An idyllic picture postcard scene

The Winter winds

Winter time, gently falling snow flakes and a Robin sat on the window sill looking in, an idyllic picture postcard scene.

Maybe some days we are lucky enough to have cold, crisp, still winter air and the crunch of fresh snow underfoot however our seasons and weather are becoming increasingly varied and unpredictable.

The wind coming in from the west straight off the Solway Firth can be ‘bracing’ to say the least! Sitting cosily in the warm while the wind swirls & howls can be quite comforting until your mind wanders, how are the slates on these old roofs doing? How will these massive ancient trees hold up along the drive?

Fortunately these old trees have been here over 200 years and have had plenty of weather thrown at them! Thankfully more often than not they amazingly survive unscathed, quiet some feet when you consider the sheer strength required to stay standing when you are that tall!

From time to time however there is occasional casualty, maybe waterlogged ground has let the roof plate lift or maybe the tree is just very old.

We are very fortunate here at Blaithwaite to have several areas of woodland, all quite different, from Ancient native forest to our Quarry arboretum and gardens containing 42 species of tree! Diverse, unusual & unique.

The woodlands are amazing places when you take time to look, saplings constantly re-generate the woodland growing in rich soil produced by the rotting leaves of mature trees. We do help out with some strategic planting of native hardwoods but what do we do when one of our trees does fall over.

The best answer is to do our utmost to make use of every part of the tree. Dead and rotting wood can be left as a multitude of fungi will grow and hundreds of insects will find a good home. Piles of brash branches can be left to provide habitat for rodents and small mammals; sometimes it’s better not to tidy up too much!

If we can safely leave a dead tree standing the woodpeckers love them, also mason bees will burrow into the wood to lay eggs (we sometimes assist with a battery drill!)

Then there is firewood, all those who have been camping and hired a fire bowl and been kept toasty warm with seasoned logs straight from the estates woodlands.

Then we have the big limbs and tree trunks, too good to chop into firewood and after a 100 years or more growing deserving to be put to good use. So several days cutting, lifting and dragging (ably and enthusiastically assisted by the boys) and we have a good haul of Oak, Beech, Ash, Cherry, Holly, Scots pine and more!. All loaded up, strapped down and off to our local friendly and very obliging timber yard.

A few weeks later and we have lots and lots of milled boards to collect. Once cut open the grains and colours of the different woods are fantastic, all left ‘live edged’ to be as natural as possible. Stacked and undercover in the back barn we have all of our timber to fit out our new lodges.

Hexicabins and tiny woodland cottages each entirely unique and each showcasing a wonderful tree species from right here on the estate, fitted out with shelving, beds, chopping boards, tables & more!

We were fortunate to mill a wind-blown oak from the estate to use when we refurbished and extended the Coach house, our home here at Blaithwaite. The timber has dried, cracked, twisted and bent but we are lucky enough to live with this amazing old tree in our home. It will be holding our roof up for many years to come and once it was just a tiny acorn.

We hope you come to visit our new timber lodges and enjoy the beauty of real wood from right here on Blaithwaite Estate, or ask us about planting your own tree in our woodlands.