Haweswater Highlights from 2023

Badger in the buttercups by Denise Godsmark who visited our Badger Hide this year.

As the curtain closes on 2023, grab a brew and a mince pie and check out some of the highlights from Haweswater this past year…

January

We kicked off the year with the exciting news that we received Landscape Recovery development funding, we had some new roles to recruit, and were looking for an Administrator, Community Engagement Officer, Ecologist, Research Assistant and a Social Scientist.

The year also started with some very wet weather which led to Swindale Beck’s flood plain doing it’s thing to perfection. It spilled out onto its floodplain as it is meant to, but within hours of the rain stopping, it was all back in the channel again like the rain had never happened.

We had a visit from the then CEO of the Environment Agency, James Bevan as part of the European Riverprize celebrations.

Our team had some great fun learning new skills on a Tree ID course and an introduction to Lichens day.

As ever, our volunteers were hard at work, out with our Wardens – processing seeds in the nursery and removing tree tubes.

Our hardy volunteers and Wardens removing tree tubes in wintery weather. Image taken by Warden Spike.

February

The first of February saw the official first anniversary of Celebration Wood – a huge thanks to everyone who has supported it so far. Whether in memory of a life or to mark a special occasion, every tree in Celebration Wood has a story.

Our volunteers were out plating a new hedge and removing old deer fences.

We celebrated International Day of Women in Science, with our then Conservation Scientist Ash.

With the help of Northern Arb, A and R Landscapes and West Cumbria Canoe Club, we installed an Osprey platform. Fingers crossed for some future nesting.

We waved a fond farewell to Hannah, who’d been on loan to us as a Warden from RSPB Ouse Fen in Cambridgeshire.

Ceramic markers, made locally by Coco Ceramics, are placed in each tree in Celebration Wood. Image taken by Wild Intrigue.

March

The hotly anticipated paperback of Wild Fell was released! Get your copy here.

We celebrated the fantastic contribution of the (growing number of) women on our team on International Women’s Day.

The number of jobs that have been created through our regenerative farming approach was highlighted in the Guardian.

Ever busy, our volunteers were out tree planting and taking care of the nursery.

The first Wilderness Programme took place.

Wild Fell, written by our Site Manager Lee Schofield is an award-winning book telling Lee’s personal story of fighting for nature on a Lake District hill farm. Image taken by Lee.

April

Lambing and calving time kept our farming team busy.

Our Badger Hide re-opened for another season, supported by our fresh faced new Badger Hide Guide volunteers.

The Shap Outdoor Festival kicked off its first ever year, and we were excited to be involved.

We were part of the Rewilding Britain report into how rewilding increases jobs.

One of the years highlights is the return of migratory birds such as Pied Flycatchers and Redstarts, who come all the way to Haweswater from West Africa to raise their chicks here

Angus the lamb was the last lamb of the year to be born, and was sadly orphaned so was bottle-fed by the team. Image taken by Nature’-friendly Farming Apprentice Elli.

May

We celebrated International Dawn Chorus Day with a guided walk. Why not book on one of next year’s events.

Our team were up with the lark (or ouzel) on Ring Ouzel surveys. Sadly numbers were heavily down this year, which was a pattern seen across the UK.

Cumbria Badger Vaccination Project volunteers began the task of vaccinating the Badgers at Haweswater.

Our volunteers were out on Dipper surveys and recorded 17 territories.

We took part in Nature Friendly Farming Week promotions, with our farming team highlighting the moments they were most proud of as Nature Friendly Farmers.

A beautiful Dipper, just one of the species surveyed by our team this year. Image taken by Dave Morris.

June

We celebrated National Volunteers Week and all the fantastic contributions of our volunteers – whether on the farm, out doing practical conservation, in the tree nursery, welcoming visitors into the Badger Hide, admin tasks, visitor surveys, bird surveys…. We couldn’t do what we do without them!

We received funding from FCC Communities Foundation, to restore our old Cumbrian Spinning Barn and create a new space for visitors.

Ospreys were regularly spotted going over, giving us hope for use of the new platform in future!

Thriving was launched, a film all about regenerative farming across Cumbria, that we are proud to be part of.

Marsh Fritillaries returned to Haweswater!

The distinctive checker board pattern on the wings of a Marsh Fritillary, which returned to Haweswater this year. Image taken by Lee Schofield.

July

Cumbria Connect was officially launched!

Our volunteers were out seed collecting and bracken bashing – they’re a hardy bunch!

We celebrated National Meadows Day with a guided walk through Swindale.

Sheep shearing kept our farm team busy.

New Warden Pete joined the team.

Fell Pony Adventures took out intrepid wild campers to explore Haweswater’s wild side.

Landowners, farmers and conservationists from the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales , including us here at Haweswater (pictured), joined forces in an ambitious partnership to create one of the UK’s largest nature-focused landscape programmes called Cumbria Connect. Image taken by Gosia Niemczura.

August

At Nature’s Pace ran Family Discovery Days in the woods.

We said a fond farewell to our Conservation Scientist Ash but a big welcome to new Tree Nursery Assistant Julia.

Water Voles were released here and at nearby Lowther Estate – the first in the Lake District for many years!

Having discovered Marsh Fritillary butterflies here in June, we surveyed for their caterpillars and found thousands!

We hosted our first Cumbria Farmer Network event, and will hopefully do more in future.

The first Water Voles were released here, bringing this cute species back for the first time in decades. Image taken by Wild Intrigue.

September

Hay making time! It was a little later than usual due to a very wet August, but we made hay whilst the sun shone in September.

We were finalists in the BBC Radio CumbriaMake A Difference Awards’ in the Green category.

Hazel Gloves Fungus was re-found this autumn, after being discovered last year – the first record for Northern England!

Bringing in the hay is a full community effort by our staff, volunteers and neighbours. We cut our hay in late summer to give all the wildflowers chance to set seed. It will feed our livestock over the winter. Image taken by Lee Schofield.

October

Already the largest native tree and plant nursery in the Lake District, we extended our nursery and added a super new polytunnel. Our dedicated team of nursery staff and volunteers grow tens of thousands of trees and plants, from seed they collect on-site, and plant them back out as part of our landscape restoration work.

Soldiers helped us to restore Sale Pot!

Luing cattle were added to our herd of conservation grazers – joining our Belted Galloway and Highland cows.

We competed in the Penrith Winter Droving – Drover’s Cup. Turns out we’re great at hay bale carrying and tug of war, but not so good at throwing eggs or eating mash.

A Great White Egret was spotted on Swindale Beck, an unusual sighting this far inland. It was enjoying the large numbers of fish present thanks to our river restoration work.

Our Drover’s Cup team. Image taken by Becki Schofield.

November

Our team of staff and volunteers returned to Sale Pot to make some finishing touches.

The wonderful Woodland Wildlife Hide by our partners Wild Intrigue, re-opened for another season. Book your place for 2024!

We added another new team mate – Administrator and Bampton Guru Lucinda.

Haweswater Tweed was launched!

Red Squirrels are just one of the gorgeous forest animals you can photograph from Wild Intrigue’s Woodland Wildlife Hide. Image taken by Wild Intrigue.

December

We celebrated our volunteer’s contributions with a Christmas party and planted a tree for them in Celebration Wood.

Pied Flycatchers had a record breaking year on RSPB reserves including here at Haweswater.

Some of our fantastic team of volunteers, celebrating with staff, their incredible contribution this year, next to their Bird Cherry tree in Celebration Wood. Image taken by Lee Schofield.

That’s a wrap! Thank you to all our colleagues, volunteers, partners, members, supporters and followers for all your support in 2023. Here’s to more adventures in 2024.

Discover more about the work of the RSPB and United Utilities at Haweswater here: wildhaweswater.co.uk
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