Oct 18 2019

Smithills Update 14th Oct 2019

Hello all

A slightly lengthier update – lots of exciting stuff coming up!

Tree planting time!

First of all… next month is tree planting time! It seems not that long ago that we were all out in the hail planting trees at Walker Fold. We planted over 6000 trees over those two weeks, and we are planning to do it all again in November!

We will be expanding the area we planted in March, planting in the fields alongside Burnt Edge Lane. We will again have two weeks’ of planting, split as follows:

  • w/c 18 Nov and w/c 25 Nov (Monday to Friday) – community groups and schools will join us 10am to 12pm and 1pm to 3pm each day
  • 24 November – volunteer task day
  • 30 November – public tree planting day (booking link if you know anyone who wants to come – https://tinyurl.com/bcfsmithills )


All of this links to the Woodland Trust’s campaign the Big Climate Fightback, through which we are asking one million people to pledge to plant a tree. If you’re going to join us in November, you can add your name to the pledge to plant a tree here.


Lantern Parade

Our Autumn family friendly event is the Lantern Parade, which this year has a theme of ‘creatures of the night’ (!!!) – Rusticus will be conjuring up a story involving an owl, a bat and an emperor hawk moth, and taking audiences on a dusk walk around Smithills Hall and the old garden centre. (Walker Fold is not being used because of the access works happening there this month).

The event is on 27 October.  Timings are 4pm to 8pm.


Task Day

 Andy has organised the next task day – this will be ‘beating up’ some of our new tree planting blocks (i.e. checking the progress of the trees, noting any which need replanting). We will be assessing a couple of blocks which suffered sheep damage in the summer. This really helps us to manage the new plantations – with thousands of new trees to check on, this task day will be extremely useful for the Estate!


Meeting point is SMITHILLS HALL – the group will need to car share to the compartments we will be working in.

Book on here – the email confirmation now contains all the text from the event description, including the meeting place.


Social enterprise update

Our lovely coffee & cake company, The Cakery, will continue to be at Walker Fold until the end of the year. We are pleased that they will also be there during tree planting weeks to help us all thaw out with hot drinks!

Yesterday, local company Forest Horizons ran a foraging event on the Estate which was very well attended – the group even did some woodworking as well! If you spotted a yurt on Walker Fold car park yesterday, that was Forest Horizons – and a good thing they had the yurt too, as the rain came down late afternoon!

Tomorrow sees the start of a really exciting new programme which Karen has set up with the Small Woods Association and Bolton at Home. We will be working with both organisations to run an eight week programme providing training to Bolton at Home residents who would like to gain skills in conservation management. They will be learning basic woodland management, and greenwood crafts. Their base will mainly be Dunscar Wood (which the Woodland Trust owns) and Dean Mill at Barrow Bridge. The course will have Level 2 OCN accreditation. Karen has worked really hard to get this off the ground and we are really excited to see where it will lead – watch this space!


Myerscough College / Schools’ Explorer Days

 We’re really pleased that we will again be working with Myerscough College this academic year. They will be visiting on a number of Tuesday afternoons, and our Education Volunteers will again be supporting the students on site. We are also about to confirm further dates with Bolton Council for more of the Smithills Explorer Days, aimed at both primary and secondary schools. Again, our Education Volunteers will be involved in this. Through these two initiatives and also the schools’ sessions during our tree planting weeks, we have really expanded our engagement with local schools this year.


Guided Walks group

Yesterday saw Alex and Pete out on their new guided walk route – A Further Introduction to Smithills Estate. Following on from their previous walk, this route looked at a different area of the Estate, and focussed on the history of the Ainsworth family (who owned Smithills Hall and Estate), including the mass trespass of 1896. This was very well received by attendees – thank you Alex & Pete!


There are a couple more walks coming up in October:

19 October – Autumn Wildlife Walk: Rob B and Mike will lead a walk through the Estate focussing on the species which make Smithills home. 1.30pm, approx. 2 hours.

27 October – A Short Introduction to Smithills Estate: Clive, Rob A and Doug will lead a walk from Walker Fold through woodland and heathland, explain the habitats and history we have on the Estate. 2pm, approx.. 2 hours.


All walks start at Walker Fold, and you need to book a place if you want to join – https://woodlandtrusttickets.cloudvenue.co.uk/volunteerledguidedwalk


Wildlife group

We’re really pleased that Greater Manchester Ecology Unit will be working more closely with the Wildlife Group, chairing meetings and helping us to plan training for 2020. Stuart Fraser from GMEU chaired his first meeting of the Wildlife group in September. The meeting included updates on monitoring – our butterfly surveys are now coming to an end (they have been a real highlight of the year so far, with some beautiful images from Jim and Peter!), and the leaky dam surveys are continuing (see below). The group are also continuing to look for notable, veteran and ancient trees on the Estate, as well as sharing news of wildlife sighting when they are out walking. Richard is also now an Ancient Tree Verifier! As always, great photos are coming from the group.


Out monitoring the leaky dams… photos by Sheila Shaw


Wardens update

Our Wardens have been out on Mondays and Thursdays patrolling the estate, keeping an eye on the footpaths and any incidences of fly tipping. They have also been checking on our tree planting, and so far have found an excellent survival rate! This year’s weather has been much kinder to the trees. Full info in the minutes attached.


Community walks

In September we led a Welcome Walk, in conjunction with Bolton City of Sanctuary, a charity which works with refugees in Bolton. It was a beautiful sunny day and a great walk through the woods, with City of Sanctuary providing a lovely lunch afterwards.

Anne and Clive joined us for our second Walk and Talk at the start of the month. We had some new faces attend, and after a rain-free walk through Barrow Bridge we had delicious soup and sandwiches – lots of chat, lots of new friendships made! Again this was run in conjunction with Bolton Council of Mosques, who provided free transport to the walk for those who needed it, and helped us to publicise the event.

Alex and Pete joined us for October’s dementia-friendly walk, again a few new faces as well as our regular group. This month we made sound maps – stopping at points along the walk, listening to sounds around us, and recreating this on paper. As always, City of Trees worked with us on this, leading the activity after the walk.

Left: Heading out on our dementia-friendly walk at the start of the month; Middle: some of the people who joined us for our Walk & Talk; Right: some of the group on our Welcome Walk in September

Our next community walks are:

  • Walk & Talk – 5 November 11am, starting from Smithills Hall
  • Dementia-friendly Walk – 7 November 11am and 2pm, starting from Smithills Hall
  • Carers’ Walk (with Greater Manchester Mental Health Service) – 11 November 10am starting from Smithills Hall


St Katherine’s Blackrod

 I went along to St Katherine’s Church in Blackrod to speak about our work here at Smithills – I was invited because the parish have chosen us as their charity for their Harvest Festival collection, for which we are very grateful. They also created a fabulous display about our work here, and were particularly pleased to hear that some of our volunteers (Rob B and Sheila) are now also looking after Lady Mabel’s Wood, which is linked to the history of the Church.

Volunteer hours

Hours so far this year are now at 4200… we could well hit 4400 (last year’s total) this month…!


Work being carried out on the Estate this month

Please be aware that there will be work taking place in Walker Fold Wood to create a new access path; work on the Mast Road entrance to install a new gate; and work across the Estate to control Japanese knotweed. There may be some disruption to permissive footpaths in Walker Food Wood (NOT the tramway path which will remain accessible). Something to be aware of if you are planning walks!

Have a wonderful week all!

Vicky Entwistle- Smithills Engaging Communities Officer

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