Feb 16 2022

Trusts work together for People and Nature

Despite the circumstances around the ongoing pandemic, the ‘Reconnecting Grantham to its Historical Landscape’ project has continued on an upward trend. The project has gone from strength to strength, rounding off 2021 in a great position meaning that 2022 has got off to a flying start.  

 

Early in 2021, there were multiple roadblocks to the project’s progression, with impacts being felt across both partner organisations, the Woodland Trust and the National Trust. Despite these issues, the whole project team pulled together, recognising the potential limitations but powering on with the help of staff from both organisations and the fantastic and utterly invaluable volunteers. 

 

The now thriving Guided Walks programme began with small steps (pun intended) offering a chance for the public to explore the project site, often being the first point of contact for local people to understand the scale of ambition the project has for the forthcoming years. Since May 2021, 20 walks have been hosted, covering 148km and welcoming 189 walkers to learn about the free-to-access green space and woodland on their doorstep. Many of these walks have been led by volunteer guided walk leaders. 88% of survey respondents said their experience on the walks had been “excellent” and 80% wished to attend a similar event in the future. Amongst many other lovely comments about the walk leaders and the walks themselves, one respondent said their walk was “really fascinating with insights to local history both about the woodlands as well as local history. The Reconnecting Grantham stuff was very interesting”. 

 

 

Throughout the year and with unwavering enthusiasm and commitment, the volunteer Wildlife Monitors have been traversing Londonthorpe Woods and Bellmount (plus Belton Parkland) surveying birds (our key indicator of the sites health), butterflies and waxcaps. They have amassed a great amount of data, all of which is being input into the British Trust for Ornithology and the United Kingdom Butterfly Monitoring Scheme. 

 

The Woodland Working Group have in the last six months begun their work programme, moving through the woodland ensuring it is maintained to a high standard for both safety purposes and aesthetically. Collectively the WWG have amassed almost 100 volunteer hours – bravo and thank you! 

 

We will soon be recruiting for various voluntary roles to contribute to the project – so keep your eyes peeled if you’re considering volunteering your time. 

 

The Reconnecting Grantham work covers Londonthorpe Wood, all the way down to Fifth Avenue and Bellmount including it’s Thorpe Fields. In September 2021 we hosted 5 walks as part of our contribution to Heritage Open Days. Grantham Dramatic Society took on the roles of Lord Brownlow, Vesta Tilley and more, to bring our local history to life as a guided walk group were led from Belton House, up the Eastern Avenue of Lime and Chestnut trees to be the first people welcomed into Bellmount Tower for a number of years. We also hosted a military history walk through Alma Park and Wood, discovering the hidden secrets of the site’s contribution to the World War efforts. 

 

More recently, visitors will have noticed that Londonthorpe Wood’s car park has been closed for improvements along with the development of an access track and cycle route leading to Alma Park industrial estate. The tracks and cycle route are complete and the brand-new car park opened in mid-January 2022. Changes made are improved access points, disabled parking, bicycle stands and all access compost toilets. We hope for the site to become a place people will visit time and again! 

 

 

In December 2021 Belmont Community Primary School pupils planted over 100 trees in Alma Wood. Welcoming Key Stage 2 students and members of the Friends of Belmont School group was extremely rewarding and they did it all incredibly fast – kudos to them all! The Woodland Skills group then completed the planting effort as they spent 5 days across Londonthorpe Woods and Bellmount learning the ins and outs of working in forestry and woodland management, led by the charity Hill Holt Wood. The group were sourced from Sleaford and Grantham Job Centres as part of our partnership working to enhance skills and learning for local people currently out of work. We’ll be hosting two more of these courses in 2022. 

 

Thank you to all of our super volunteers for their invaluable support during 2021. Going into 2022 we are looking forward to working on the project with you! 

 

Dominic Fieldhouse – Community Development Officer (Central England)

Amanda Brookes – Volunteering Development Officer (Central England)

Images by Dominic Fieldhouse

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