Green fingered colleagues from The Cumberland return to Cumbria Wildlife Trust for volunteering day

Published on
2 November 2023

A hardy band of well-meaning souls from the Commercial and Intermediary teams at The Cumberland spent their Halloween volunteering rather than chasing ghosts.

Picking up their shovels, putting on their woollies and leaving their desks behind, the group ventured into the great outdoors to build team rapport and make a positive difference to the wildlife in the local area.

Thacka Beck, Penrith is an urban nature reserve containing many different habitats. Managed by Cumbria Wildlife Trust for over 10 years, it consists of three main areas - the beck itself, the river and a wetlands area, together with two small fenced-in meadows. The site is home to a wide range of bird species and many other forms of wildlife.

Hosted by Shannon Horrocks from the Trust, 13 members of staff spent the day connecting with nature, and each other, whilst learning new skills and contributing to efforts toward grassland restoration and wildflower plug planting.

The team spent a good portion of their day plug-planting wildflower seedlings into one of the meadows to help introduce diversity. High levels of rain in previous days had led to pretty wet conditions underfoot but The Cumberland troop were not to be deterred. A light sprinkle in the morning was followed by a mostly dry but overcast Cumbrian afternoon, allowing the dedicated group to home between 350-400 plants during their time in the meadows.

In between planting out the seedlings, Shannon took time to explain the aims of the Trust and in particular the plans for the site. The group learned that the meadows are grazed by local cows over winter and left to flourish as a wildflower meadow in summer, hopefully becoming a blossoming habitat and a valuable source of food for bees, butterflies and other such insects.

[Not really needing evidence, the significant amount of cow dung was proof enough for the team that recent cow grazing had indeed taken place!]

An integral part of a much wider issue, UK grasslands store billions of tonnes of carbon in their soil and offer a natural solution to the fight against climate change. Most grassland in the UK today is farmed, with only a small percentage left to grow and develop naturally. This ‘unimproved’, species rich grassland continues to decline, which is why the work completed by Cumbria Wildlife Trust and its volunteers is so important.

At the end of a wholesome day, with cold fingers but full hearts, the autumn sun set on our team of happy helpers. Despite it being Halloween, they were happy to report that no ghosts were recorded.

The team look forward to revisiting the site next summer when the meadow should be at its best.