May 10 2019

New Events and New Nature at Smithills

Despite Bolton’s damp public image we’ve seen an unusually dry spring which has followed a record breaking summer for high temperatures. This has led to some excellent sunny days for our spring events as well as new species for our biodiversity list.

This spring we offered something for the whole family, especially when we welcomed back Rusticus Events. Rusticus run events both at Skipton Woods and Smithills where actors bring the woods alive with colourful and charismatic characters.


This spring guests brought their family to discover the secrets of spring at Smithills. With the help of a friendly sheep, they found Mother Nature herself. She showed the children how to create a spring potion that would help bring back life after the cold winds of winter.

It has clearly worked! Since this day our wildlife volunteers have been surveying the insects of the estate and there are newcomers.

Both ashy and tawny (above) mining bees were found on the butterfly transect by our wildlife volunteer Jim Ormerod. The curious bee fly (below) was spotted further along the path. All three have not been recorded at Smithills before and the bee fly may well be the first ever recorded in Bolton. Don’t be fooled by the bee fly – it is certainly no bee. It is in the same order as the humble house fly (diptera), but has evolved to look like a bee and act like a hummingbird.

After the insects come the birds, including the stunning goldcrest and lesser redpoll, photographed by local supporter John Tabor. Both birds use the coniferous areas of the estate to find food as well as using the dense needles for cover.


The goldcrest is the smallest bird in Britain and can normally be heard before it is seen. It’s song is so high pitched that it is best heard by children. The lesser redpoll pictured below is a male who is developing summer plumage – red forehead and chest along with black feathers around the beak.

This wildlife and the trees they live among can offer great inspiration for the creative. Spring 2019 saw our first ever Art and Walk Workshop. Run by Joe’s Watercolours, guests were taught how to use colours of all sorts to capture the diversity of a forest in flower.

As well as providing inspiration, local nature can offer therapy. This spring we have run our first dementia friendly walks in partnership with City of Trees. These walks offer a safe a peaceful environment for dementia sufferers to explore and reminisce about gardens they once created, wildlife encounters from their past and Smithills itself and how their lives have intertwined with this landscape over the years.

All this demonstrates to the public and our supporters why the work of the Woodland Trust is so important. This estate and the other demonstration sites act as huge shop windows for what the Woodland Trust is doing and why woods and trees are so vital for the youngest, oldest and all in between.


If you would like any further information about the Smithills Project, please call the Smithills Office on 0330 333 5314 or email us at

Russ Hedley – Marketing & Communications Officer , Smithills

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