Christmas trees conserving the Peak District landscape

How buying a tree from the Longshaw estate can help keep countryside and wildlife protected.

Atree from Longshaw is not just for Christmas, says National Trust ranger Mark Bull.

It’s more of a family day out coming here than buying a cheap tree

“Buying a premium grade tree from us is actually going to support your local countryside throughout the year,” he said.

“People who love the Peak District tell us they come to us for their Christmas tree because they like to give something back to help conserve the local landscape and wildlife.”

Last year Mark and his team of National Trust rangers and volunteers sold over 1,200 freshly-cut trees at Longshaw, with all profits going back into their work to conserve the countryside of the Peak District.

“The money raised helped us plant new oak, rowan and birch trees in our wood pasture project, and to set up bird boxes for barn owls, kestrels and tawny owls which led to over a dozen young birds of prey growing up on food caught in our hay meadows,” said Mark.

Buyers of Longshaw trees also helped build a new path so people with pushchairs and wheelchairs can get around the estate easier, and helped cover dry stone wall repairs to keep livestock off the roads.

This year the money raised will also go into providing habitats for wading birds like snipe on the estate, bird boxes for the nationally rare pied flycatcher in Padley Woods, and conservation work to encourage dragonflies and damselflies.

Longshaw trees come straight from the estate, from other Peak District nurseries, or from other sustainably managed UK growers to meet demand, said Mark.

Customers can reserve a tree in Longshaw’s own tree nursery to be cut closer to Christmas, or choose from a range of Norway Spruce, Fraser Firs, Lodgepole Pine and ‘non-drop’ Nordmann Firs to take away.

“The Spruce actually smell a lot nicer than the Nordmans, and will easily last three or four weeks if they’re cut fresh, kept cool before you put them out in your room, and then watered regularly,” said Mark, adding that many budget commercial trees will have been cut early in November.

Generations of families have bought their trees from Longshaw since the National Trust began selling specimens from their own plantation in the 1970s.

Children who used to come along with their grandparents are now bringing their own children, said Mark, and other customers have replanted their trees and have them growing in their own garden.

“It’s more of a family day out coming here than buying a cheap tree from the supermarket,” said Mark.

“You can visit our new trail in the woods, and take Grandma and Grandad to the cafe, because we have our ‘buy a tree, get a free cup of tea’ offer running too. And of course there’l be lots of birds and maybe even deer to see too.”

For more information on the Christmas tree scheme or the estate visit National Trust - Longshaw

Tree Keeping Advice

If your tree is cut fresh, and kept cool before you put it out in your room, and then watered regularly, even varieties like firs and spruces will last 3-4 weeks, said Mark Bull.

Most medium trees will need around a pint of water a day, and keeping trees away from radiators will also help.

Christmas Tree History

The traditional tree became fashionable when Prince Albert brought one over from Germany for Queen Victoria in 1841. But trees have been part of Christmas (and the winter solstice) for thousands of years.

Ancient Egyptians marked the end of winter by bringing palm trees into their homes, and early Britons kept evil spirits away by placing evergreen branches above their doorways.

Where to buy a tree

If you can’t make it to Longshaw, there is a Christmas Tree Festival being held at Millhouses Methodist Church.

There is expected to be a display of at least 30 trees this year.

The launch is on Thursday December 7, from 6pm-7.30pm with festive fruit punch and mince pies, plus entertainment from the children of Sheffield Performing Arts. Public openings are then held on weekends in December.

Public openings:

Saturday Dec 9th, 2pm-5pm

Sunday Dec 10th, 2pm-5pm

Saturday Dec 16th, 2pm-5pm

Sunday Dec 17th, 2pm-5pm

Friday Dec 22nd, 2pm-5pm

Saturday Dec 23rd, 2pm-5pm

Christmas Eve, 10.30am-4pm