Category Archives: Events

Glow worms, lichen and Clare

Two fascinating nature reserves feature in Langdyke’s programme of events for July together with a walk in the footsteps of John Clare.

On Friday, July 12 you can join the search for glow worms around the Barnack Hills and Holes.  The reserve provides a great spot for catching a view of the little creatures.

The glow worm is not actually a worm, but a beetle. Males look like typical beetles, but the nightly glow of a female is unmistakeable – lighting up to attract a mate in the darkness of their grassland habitats.

To take part in this event please meet in the car park at the entrance to the reserve off Wittering Road, Barnack at 9pm. It is a good idea to take a torch.

On  July 14  ‘A Walk with John Clare’ will give you the opportunity to stroll along in the footsteps of the poet John Clare and learn about the landscape that featured in his poetry.

John Clare by William Hilton, oil on canvas 1820

This is a unique Langdyke joint event with the John Clare Society and John Clare Cottage and sets off at 1pm on the Sunday afternoon of the John Clare Festival in Helpston.

The five mile guided walk around the Helpston area will be led by Carry Akroyd of the John Clare Society and Langdyke’s David Cowcill.

The programme includes an introduction to Clare’s life and works with readings appropriate to the places he visited and commentary on the countryside he loved.

It includes a cream tea at the John Clare Cottage with the opportunity to undertake an audio tour of the cottage and gardens..

Places are strictly limited and bookings will be made on a first come, first-served basis and the cost per person is £9 – payable on the day. To find out more (including joining instructions) and to book your place, please contact Simon Bysshe by emailing sby121@btinternet.com  or ringing 01733 253164. Sorry: But this event is now fully booked.

On Sunday , July 21 there is another opportunity to visit the unique Bainton Heath (pictured, top) which is not open to the public.

A guided walk will give you the chance to see the unique content of this site, which includes a small wood and a large pond.

It is a former landfill site filled entirely with fly ash from northern coal-fired powerstations and the railways in the 1960s.

As a result many species of moss and lichen grow there which are not natural to Cambridgeshire – but are more northerly species.

The landfill area has grown over with dense scrub to the north gradually thinning out to open grassland in the south with some bare patches with lichens growing directly on the fly ash.

It is surrounded on three sides by mature mixed woodland with a good variety of large trees and shrubs.

It is currently the home of National Grid and supports two electricity distribution systems and a sub-station. Ironically, the tall pylons have become a home for wildlife.

As a result it is not open to the public and visits can only be made there for events like this one.

If you would like to take part please meet at the Torpel site at 2pm.  The plan is to drive from there to Bainton in as few cars as possible.

The bridge at Bainton Heath: Photo by David Cowcill

See us at heritage festival

Langdyke has its own stand at this weekend’s Peterborough Heritage Festival in the city centre on Saturday and Sunday.

The festival is the UK’s largest multi-period city centre living history  festival.

The Langdyke stand  will be in the Vivacity unit in Queensgate opposite the McDonalds entrance and right next to Cathedral Square where the main event is centred.

The theme of the main event this year is’Victorians’ marking 200 years since the birth of Queen Victoria.

What’s happening at the LCT stand?

Langdyke volunteers – suppporting Artist in residence Kathryn Parsons – will be welcoming people, chatting about the trust and its work.

On view will be photo boards and information leaflets and flyers designed to encourage people to join the Trust.

Another key aim is to promote the Langdyke Museum of Objects book, due to be published at the annual meeting, full of memories about connections between nature and the people who visit the countryside. People are being encouraged to bring in objects so they can be photographed for the book.

Kathryn is running a drop-in workshop so people can come and add to our community artwork.  Everyone that adds to the artwork will get an invitation to our Saturday June event and if they come to the annual meeting they will get a free copy of the anniversary book.

A couple of poets will also be calling in to to read their poetry that relates to Langdyke countryside/nature

More details about the Peterborough Heritage Festival at https://vivacity.org/heritage/peterborough-heritage-festival-2019/

 

Two big birthday events

Plans for Langdyke’s 20th birthday celebrations later this year are progressing well.

The celebration programme includes a series of events designed to appeal to anyone who has an interest in the countryside around where they live.

And many of the happenings are aimed directly at giving the whole family a chance to enjoy time together in the countryside.

The highlight of the programme is a 20th anniversary weekend of events over the weekend of Friday, June 28 and Saturday, June 29.

We will be celebrating twenty years of positive local action for nature and heritage at our reserves and in the countryside surrounding them.

On the Friday our celebrations will centre around an evening festival at Torpel Manor Field on the outskirts of Helpston.

Between 6 and 9pm there will be music, poetry and nature and art workshops.  You are encouraged to bring your own picnic and enjoy a summer’s evening (weather permitting!) on a very special site.  The event is free to members with a small charge for non-members.

On the Saturday the fun moves to the Etton Maxey Pits Nature Reserve where between 2pm and 5pm there will be a variety of family events including pond-dipping, bug hunting, art workshops and nature trails. It’s free to members and all children.

More details will be announced soon, so keep watching this site.

What is Langdyke about?

Some observers have commented that Langdyke is an organisation just for bird watchers.  Not so.

The reserves it maintains and events it promotes for members – and non-members – gives everyone the chance to engage with nature in whatever form they want.

Whether it’s a family walk in the countryside, a summer picnic with wildlife, a chance to explore nature close up or the opportunity to burn off some of those calories by joining a countryside working party – there is something on offer for everyone.

Founded in 1999, Langdyke now manages seven nature reserves – a total of 180 acres of land – has more than 300 household members and even its own flock of sheep.

It is a purely voluntary organisation committed to making a difference to the countryside around us all.

Trust chairman Richard Astle, who lives in Helpston, wrote in the recent annual report: “We want to live in an area where nature is at the heart of our lives. Where swifts and swallows are a central feature of our summer evenings, where otters continue to enthral people as they play in the Maxey Cut, where bees and other insects thrive, not decline, and where there are far more, not less, ponds, meadows, wild flowers, hedgerows and trees.”

Although the organisation’s membership is thriving there is always room for more.  Anyone interested in joining can make contact through this website or the Langdyke Facebook page.

There is also the chance to get your hands dirty and make direct contact with nature by joining one of the working parties which meet weekly at Swaddywell and fortnightly at the Etton/Maxey reserves. They involve helping with a variety of tasks (the work isn’t back-breaking), making new friends and having a chat over a cuppa with like-minded people. There are also working events at Castor Hanglands and Barnack Hills and Holes.

You can usually find details of forthcoming working parties on the Langdyke Countryside Trust Facebook page.

Bats, newts, nightingales

An event that was so popular last year is being repeated again – but with an added extra.

A night time walk around Castor Hanglands National Nature Reserve last summer was organised to hear the Nightingale sing – with the chance also to spot Great Crested Newts as well using powerful torches.

It proved to be a great night with a number of opportunities to hear the distinctive sound of the birds.

This year the event is being held again – with the chance to also study bats

The Langdyke team are planning to use special equipment to help identify the whereabouts of the bats.

Your guides on the walk will be Mike Horne and Richard Astle who will be taking walkers to various spots to hear the fabulous sounds of the nightingales.

Mike Horne explained: ” Sadly, due largely to habitat loss, Nightingales, bats and Greater Crested Newts are becoming scarcer as the years roll along, so this is a good opportunity to reacquaint yourselves with what they look and sound like.

“The nightingales are arriving back from their over wintering grounds in the dry savannahs of sub-Saharan Africa, and if you’ve never before heard one, then this is the perfect opportunity.

“Once the light starts to fall we’ll also be on the lookout for bats. Natural England have kindly offered to bring along some hi tech equipment that will allow us to listen to the bats – and identify which species they are, as they are out hunting for their dinner.

“We’ve also got several high powered torches that will help us spot Britain’s largest newt, the Great Crested, as they swim around in the deepest parts of the ponds. ”

The event is being held on Thursday, May 16, starting at 7.30pm.

If you would like to attend you should meet at the north west entrance to the Hanglands opposite Southey Woods car park on the Langley Bush Road out of Helpston.

It’s a good idea to make sure you are wearing the appropriate clothing for the evening depending on the weather.  You are also advised to bring a torch.

Top names for evening

Planning is underway for the Langdyke Stories celebration event and annual meeting.

There are some key topics and nationally acclaimed speakers lined up for the evening.

The event, on Friday, September 13, will take on an extra special air  to mark the organisation’s 20th anniversary.

The future for nature locally, regionally and nationally will be up for discussions with a host of important guest speakers.

They include:

  • Harriet Mead, wildlife artist and sculptor and President of the Society of Wildlife Artists
  • Brian Eversham, Chief executive of the Wildlife Trust for Bedfordhsire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire
  • Jeremy Mynott, author of Birdscapes and Birds in the Ancient World
  • Mark Cocker a naturalist who has published a host of books including Birds Britannica, Crow Country and  Our Place, Can we save Britain’s wildlife before it’s too late.

There will also be updates on Langdyke business as well as a series of displays. More details including the venue and timings will be announced nearer the time.

Annual meeting speakers (clockwise from top): Mark Cocker, Harriet Mead, Jeremy Mynott and Brian Eversham

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old Sulehay spring walk

Step into Spring with a guided walk around a nature reserve noted for its amazing woodland flora including carpets of bluebells.

The walk is on Saturday, April 13 around Old Sulehay Nature Reserve – one of the last remnants of the ancient Rockingham Forest.

It is being organised by our friends at the Wildlife Trust and led by Reserves Officer Ian Hilbert.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Park and meet at Ring Haw Field Station, off Sulehay Road, Yarwell at 2pm for an introduction to the reserve and its management, followed by a walk around the wood looking at the spring flowers, and the most interesting old trees. The walk will be over by around 4pm.

Please bring sturdy footwear and clothing for the weather, plus anything else you may need for our walk, such as a stick, camera and binoculars. Donations to support the reserve management work are welcome.

Contact Rachel Price on 07734 478466

 

 

 

 

About the reserve

The reserve’s website states: Old Sulehay Forest is a fragment of the ancient Rockingham Forest, a royal hunting forest that extended from Wansford to Kettering.

In summer, glow-worms glimmer in the longer grass. Many wildflowers found here are rare in Northamptonshire, including ploughman’s-spikenard, wild thyme, viper’s bugloss, common cudweed and yellow-wort. These attract a wide range of butterflies, such as common blue, brown argus and dingy skipper. On warm spring days look for the energetic grizzled skipper in Stonepit Close, on the disused railway or the Calcining Banks.

Areas of scrub support birds such as whitethroat and bullfinch. Great and lesser spotted woodpeckers live in the woodland along with nuthatch and treecreeper. Invertebrates thrive on the sun-warmed paths and rides.

To maintain the varied habitat structure most of the grassland is grazed with rare-breed sheep and cattle to maintain low soil fertility. Using wildflower seeds collected from other limestone grassland sites in the area, Sammock’s Hill was restored from arable land. It now boasts a variety of native flowers, including cowslips, bird’s-foot trefoil, knapweed broomrape and pyramidal orchids.

How to get there

Directions and access

From the roundabout on A47 outside Wansford village (west of the junction with the A1) enter Wansford and drive down the hill to a staggered junction. At the junction turn right and then the second left towards Yarwell. Drive to the crossroads outside of Yarwell village and turn right onto the Sulehay Road. On reaching a sharp bend in the road, turn left off the road and drive along the right-hand track through the reserve to the Field Station (do not take the left-hand track as it is unsuitable for vehicles). There are three field gates on the access track that are only open when events are being held onsite.

Vehicle access

The Field Station is accessible via an ironstone track from the bend in Sulehay Road. As the track runs through the nature reserve, all vehicles users must adhere to the following instructions:
Speed limit is 5 mph
Give way to people and wildlife
Stop and look at each gateway

Pedestrian access

The Field Station can be reached via the access track, through kissing gates located next to each of the field gates at anytime (as the reserve is open access to the public). Please be aware that the track is used by vehicles for site management and events.

Parking

Vehicles may park along the hedge-line, opposite the building. Do not block access to any entrances.

Disabled parking

Disabled parking is located at the far end of the building by the Sun room (conservatory).

Hanglands event called off

Poor weather means this event has been cancelled.

There’s a chance for you to be involved in a project which will bring one of nature’s most beautiful butterflies back from virtual extinction in this country.

The Rockingham Forest ‘Back from the Brink’ project has seen the Chequered Skipper take to the wing in England for the first time in more than 40 years.

Now there are plans to hopefully re-introduce the butterfly back into Castor Hanglands this summer, where the last specimens were seen on the wing in 1973.

Langdyke is looking for volunteers to help with the preparation for this to happen.

There will be a working party on Tuesday, March 12 at Castor Hanglands – designed to help the ‘Back from the Brink’ project team prepare for the reintroduction.

The aim is to start to create suitable conditions for the Chequered Skipper to be re-introduced and thrive.

The work party will be at the Hanglands from 10am until 3.30pm that day.

Anyone wanting to volunteer is advised to make sure they are wearing the appropriate clothing for the weather, sturdy footwear and a pair of gardening gloves. A packed lunch is also advised.

Langdyke trustee Mike Horne is the person to contact if you need more information. You can email him at mikehorne@langdyke.org.uk

Langdyke’s annual meeting last year heard from Roots of Rockingham project officer Susannah O’Riordan about the work that had taken place at Rockingham.

It all started in Belgium, where – after being granted the necessary licence, a team managed to find and collect just a few dozen of the butterflies, and then carefully transported them back to this country.

In May of last year 42 adult Chequered Skipper butterflies were released into Rockingham Forest, and flew in England for the first time in – appropriately enough, 42 years. TV personality and Conservation expert Chris Packham was on hand to witness the reintroduction.

After that a dedicated band of volunteers were on site every day following the release to monitor the behaviour of the butterflies, looking at how far they moved from the release points and seeing if they could observe any egg-laying behaviour.

Only time will tell whether the project is a success and whether similar success can be gained at the Hanglands.

How to get there:

Meet at the Natural England compound in the Hanglands, off Helpston Road. Drive through the double black metal gates and down the track around 400 metres and you will see the wooden buildings in front of you

Chris Packham interview

Chris Packham

TV wildlife expert Chris Packham was at the Rockingham Forest launch. You can watch one of the interviews he gave here; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ie-eHKPVpsA

 

About Rockingham Forest

Rockingham Forest is a collection of ancient woodlands that once formed William the Conqueror’s favourite hunting forest. It is situated in North East Northamptonshire between Stamford and Kettering.

Time to come a’wassailing

Get out those old pots and pans – because we’re hosting a wassailing event.

Traditionally the event involves groups of wassailers drinking lots of alcohol and moving from orchard to orchard – singing, shouting, banging pots and pans and even firing shotguns in an effort to make as much noise as possible to awaken any sleeping tree.

We’re not expecting our event to be quite so riotous – but it will be fun and is aimed at providing an afternoon out for the whole family.

It is taking place at Etton High Meadow on Saturday, January 26.

The site hosts a number of fruit trees and a recently planted community orchard with more than 70 fruit trees including local heritage varieties such as Lord Burghley and Peasgoods Nonsuch.

We hope the wassail will awaken them to bear bountiful crops of fruit next year. So please bring some pots and pans to make a noise.

The fun starts at about 3pm and will go on until about 5.30pm.

As well as the traditional wassail (in a more civilised form) there will be musical entertainment with Alan Wood singing traditional songs and various events for children including making bird feeders out of apples.

It is expected to be cold so we will be using the barn (basic, but at least sheltered) and we will be having a bonfire to help you keep warm. We’re also hoping to turn this year’s crop of apples into some  very drinkable juice. There will also be refreshments

Traditionally the celebrations vary from region to region.  

In some cases a wassail King and Queen lead the assembled group of revellers, comprising the farmers, farm workers and general villagers, in a noisy procession from one orchard to the next. 

In each orchard the wassailers gather round the biggest and best tree, and as a gift to the tree spirits, the Queen places a piece of wassail soaked toast into its branches, accompanied by songs such as:

“Apple tree, apple tree we all come to wassail thee,
Bear this year and next year to bloom and blow,
Hat fulls, cap fulls, three cornered sacks fills…”

The wassailers then move on to the next orchard; singing, shouting, banging pots and pans, and even firing shotguns, generally making as much noise as possible in order to both waken the sleeping tree spirits, and also to frighten off any evil demons that may be lurking in the branches.

The custom of apple tree wassailing is celebrated across the country, on either the new or old Twelfth Night.  An original house to house version before Christmas was designed to obtain gifts from the Lord of the Manor in exchange for a blessing.  This has evolved into what we now know as carolling.

How to get there

Etton High Meadow is on the Maxey Road just outside Etton.  

From the Helpston road go past the Golden Pheasant pub and through the village towards Maxey.  You will come to a small hump back bridge. Cross it and Etton High Meadow is about 150 yards on the right through a gate.  

There is parking on site but please drive carefully because children may be already there. It is advisable to wear warm clothing and a torch might be useful because it gets dark early.

Stroll into the New Year

Make a resolution to join our annual New Year’s Day walk – a gentle three-hour stroll through Langdyke countryside giving you the chance to shake off the old and get set for the new.

This year the walk will set off from the Hills and Holes car park, off Wittering Road, Barnack, at 1pm prompt.

The route has been planned by Langdyke member David Alvey who will also be one of the leaders and who knows the area well.

He says: “I’ve mapped out a route which I know well from multiple dog walks and will recce it a few days before to check for any specific issues, in particular muddy stretches.”

That said, it will be important to make sure that if you are taking part you wear the appropriate clothing and footwear.  

The route takes in several interesting nature sites across grazed grassland, typical arable fields (with two distinctly different forms of cultivation), some spinneys, hedgerows and even a spring fed pond and related stream/ditch. 

It provides a good overview of the Langdyke countryside.

Dependent upon the weather it is possible you could see  Red Kites, Buzzards, Yellowhammers, Skylarks and possibly Redwings and Fieldfares. 

Independent of weather it is likely you will spot corvids and, of course,  wood pigeons

The proposed route

Walk across Hills and Holes from the car park and out at the South-west corner along the public footpath that runs alongside Walcott Hall grounds.

Join the old Ermine Street route across the Western boundary of Walcott, past Southorpe Roughs SSSI and straight on to the southern end of Southorpe. Then back along the road through Southorpe  (a little narrow and with no footpath in places but is now a 20mph limit). 

We pass the Wildlife Trust reserve (SSSI), Southorpe Meadow and then continue out of the village towards Barnack picking up the public footpath along the old disused railway (through ‘Ufford Bridge Station’ which is potentially the only really muddy bit of the route). 

Turning left back into Barnack to enter near the cricket club and back across the road into the Hills and Holes. This takes about 1:30 hours walking the dog but that is at a brisk pace.

Short cut

There is a short cut across to the north end of Southorpe for those wanting a shorter walk (or weather is bad) and an extended route to take in a fourth SSSI (Southorpe Paddock) further to the south of Southorpe. This means a walk along a narrow unrestricted road and over a blind bridge so whilst New Years Day should be quiet on the roads I think it does present a more significant risk to participants.

  • Suitable walking footware is only really required if we have particularly heavy rain (or snow) or the local hunt or agricultural machinery has churned up sections of the path. The going underfoot is fairly dry and stable even in mid-winter.