Clare’s our next topic

John Clare expert Professor Simon Kovesi is Langdyke’s  next online guest .

It is particularly appropriate for Simon (pictured, above) to be the speaker on Wednesday, November 25 (7.30pm) as the Trust continues to push ahead with its John Clare Countryside vision.

John Clare

The peasant poet from Helpston regularly wrote about the local landscape in his poetry. Simon will be talking about Clare, his poetry and links to nature during the conversation. He is currently head of English and Modern Languages  at Oxford Brookes University, having previously studied and/or taught at the universities of Glasgow, Dundee, Nottingham Trent and North Carolina at Chapel Hill (USA).

He is vice chair of the John Clare Society. His PhD was entitled Sexuality, Agency and Intertextuality in the Later Poetry of John Clare(Nottingham Trent, 1999).

Among his specialities is the  the relationship between literature and the natural world. 

The conversation will be an online event.  You can join by clicking here or pasting the link below into your browser

Students on our reserves

The team who tackled the area of Crassula

Students taking part in expeditions to gain their Duke of Edinburgh scheme qualifications have been working on the Etton Maxey nature reserve.

The youngsters, from Stamford Endowed Schools, have been using their half-term break to work towards either their Silver or Gold standard awards – taking part in a series of hikes and volunteer work programmes.

Around 120 teenagers, carrying heavy back packs full of clothing and camping gear,  have been walking from a drop-off point at Greatford across country to the Etton High Meadow barn before carrying out work tasks on the Etton Maxey site.

Usually the pupils would be carrying out the expeditions in the Lake District, but Coronavirus restrictions have meant that this year activities have been curtailed.

And so after conversations with Langdyke trustee David Alvey part of the programme this year has involved working with Langdyke on a variety of reserve tasks.

These have included cutting down willow, removing hawthorn and digging layers of crassula. The youngsters have been overseen by teachers and parents working to tasks set by Langdyke volunteers including David Alvey, David Cowcill, Richard Astle and David Rowell.

David Alvey said: “It’s been a great opportunity to open up our reserves to a new younger group of people.  They have set about their tasks with a great degree of determination and have done a really good job.  They have also been able to learn about the nature on the reserves at the same time and ask questions of our volunteers.”


Fourteen parishes back scheme


John Clare Countryside update by Richard Astle



We are hearing so much at the moment about the crisis that is facing our natural world, fueled by the emotive programmes of David Attenborough and the new “Earthshot prizes” that Prince William is backing. 

There is a real sense that we have to act now if we are to have any chance of helping nature recover and avoiding mass extinctions across the planet. 

And those extinctions are very definitely not just happening in the coral seas or the rainforests.  Right here in Langdyke country we are losing our cuckoos and our swifts all too rapidly.  Once common birds are now scarce and many butterflies are far rarer than they were even 20 years ago. 

And did you know that the once abundant European eel, which can wriggle its way up into the ponds and brooks of Castor Hanglands as part of its epic voyage from the West Indies, has declined by 94 per cent!  Wow.

So, do we wring our hands and hope that Sir David and Prince William can sort it out for us?

Not at all – across the area, fourteen of our parishes have now signed up to create parish nature recovery plans and teams of local people are meeting to discuss what actions we can take locally to restore nature and help wildlife thrive in our villages and across the wider countryside. 

Bainton and Ashton residents are creating mini wildlife meadows and planting trees and native shrubs to give winter berries for birds and spring blossoms for pollinators, while the Castor team are looking at meadow creation along Splash Lane. 

In Peakirk they are preparing to sow pollinating plants by the village hall and in Glinton there are ideas for creating wildlife meadows along the main roads into the village.

These are all small, but very important steps.  The power of this local approach is that residents are leading the way – we aren’t waiting for the Council or a national charity to show us what to do.  And as residents we take pride in our countryside and our villages and can keep an eye on what is being planted and manage it in the future too.

Each of these parish plans will need people to help volunteer to plant trees and hedges, create wildflower strips, conduct surveys and manage the sites on an annual basis.  If you would like to get involved please email me and I will put you in touch with the team in your parish.  You will have the satisfaction of making a difference to your local area and being part of a global effort.  If you value nature, this is your chance to make a real difference.

The parish nature recovery plans are part of the overall John Clare Countryside project which involves all the parishes and key organisations such as Langdyke, PECT, Nene Park Trust, Sacrewell Farm, Natural England and the Wildlife Trusts.  You can find out more details here  

Richard Astle
Chair, Langdyke Countryside Trust

Butterfly talk on agenda

Susannah O’Riordan – a key figure in butterly conservation and the Back from the Brink project in Rockingham Forest – is our next online guest.

 In Conversation with …. butterfly expert Susannah will be held via Zoom on Thursday, October 22 at 7.30pm.

Chequered skipper Carterocephalus palaemon

Among the important work Susannah has carried out has been the re-introduction of the Chequered Skipper (left) into woodland in the area after an absence of many years. Further work this year to help the re-inroduction was delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic. This important project will obviously be part of the conversation with her.

The main picture (at the top) is of a Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) and was taken by Brian Lawrence

The event is the latest in a series of In conversation with …  online chats organised by Langdyke for its members during the Coronavirus pandemic when outside events have not been possible

To join the event click here or cut and paste the link below into your browser

Your do not need to dowload any software.  Please note the link will not work until the start time of the event.

David’s goal benefits all

Introducing David Alvey – a Langdyke trustee with a keen interest in linking nature and your wellbeing.

As part of a new series on the website – Langdyke people – we asked him a few questions about himself.  Here are his answers …

Name:  David Alvey
Role in Langdyke: Trustee and board member
In your role with the Trust what areas do you specialise/lead in?  Nature requires us to think on a landscape scale if we are to avoid just delaying its deterioration so my primary role is helping to develop the John Clare Countryside vision. Whilst essential and a great starting point conserving small pockets of nature reserves will not deliver the environmental change required to reverse the declining trends in nature that are all too obvious. Providing this nature rich countryside links perfectly into my other passion for improving my own, our members and our communities mental well being. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted our need for green space, I was already working to establish links with local mental health charities. The pandemic has just encouraged this collaboration and our need for a countryside that benefits nature and people.
What got you involved with the Trust?
Walking my dogs around the fantastically accessible countryside around Barnack built on my lifelong love of gardening and wildlife. This enjoyment made me determined to actively give something back to the local environment. This was firstly through the “Friends of Barnack Hills and Holes” and then, following its incorporation at the end of 2017, through Langdyke Countryside Trust.
Favourite place in nature:
That would have to be Orkney Islands in Scotland but almost any of the Scottish islands are a close second (not just because of the Whisky distilleries!). More locally it is simply the best maintained farmland in this area illustrating that we can live alongside nature if we have the right attitude and expectations.
What do you most love about nature?
The way it can always surprise you and so easily regenerate if we just stop fighting against it, work with it and provide it with enough space to make its own “decisions”.
Things that make you happy …
The simplest of natures wonders being available right on our doorstep. We might not have the most high profile species in our countryside, although there is an impressive array, but even the common species of birds, flora and fauna that we can see every day, if we take time to look, show off nature’s amazing capabilities. Just spending a few minutes watching a Red Kite over the garden has the same restorative powers and a lot lower carbon footprint than a trip to the Mull to see White Tailed Eagles. Another great example if we give nature a helping hand it will come and visit us!
Things that really annoy you …
The number of people wanting something to be done by someone else about a particular topic but not willing to get involved or change their own life choices to actually make it happen.
What is your hope for nature in the next ten years?
Locally, whilst a mountain range separating the Welland and Nene valley’s would be nice, more realistically a real change in the way we interact with our local environment as individuals and collectively. Sustainable use of our resources and a responsibility for our use of the local countryside could lay the foundations for a brighter future for ourselves, our children and their children. At a national and international level recognition that we all share the same planet and we all deserve to equally benefit from it.
Anything else you want to say?
A quote from Dave Goulson’s book The Garden Jungle has certainly made me think. “Most parents and grandparents will do anything for their children except, it seems, leave them a decent planet to live on”. I am still trying to adapt and change and it is not easy but every little step makes some small contribution.

You can meet more Langdyke people here