Woodchester Park, a tranquil wooded valley, contains a ‘lost landscape’ with remains of an 18th- and 19th-century landscape park. The early 19th Century gardens were associated with a Georgian mansion in the grounds of the park, which was later replaced by Woodchester Mansion.
The National Trust has been working for 17 years to reduce the area of planted woodland and increase open areas such as pasture and natural landscape. Work has already been done to return 20 hectares of land to grazed pasture, to benefit the population of rare greater horseshoe bats. The greater horseshoe feeds off the invertebrates associated with cattle and sheep, and so providing more land for pasture in turn creates more feeding areas for these rare bats. The Ebworth Centre in the Park contains a herd of conservation cattle.
The work that we carried out was scrub clearance on Scotland Bank which is at the bottom of the park. The work is part of a Higher Level Stewardship Scheme to revert the area back to grassland which is how it was 30 or so years ago.
The weather forecast was for bitterly cold weather all day but in the event it was benign, relatively warm and with bright sunshine for most of the day. Those wearing Long Johns soon regretted their caution, especially around the fire where we burned the brash.
We cleared and burned brash previously cut by the Warden, whilst he worked with a chain saw to ensure that we did not run out of material to process.
It was great to look back at the end of the day and see clearly the difference our efforts had made.