PEAK of powers from Mother Nature

National Trust Peak District Appeal: National Trust rangers Myles Brazil and Gail Weatherhead looking at a veteran sweet chestnut tree at Edale End
National Trust Peak District Appeal: National Trust rangers Myles Brazil and Gail Weatherhead looking at a veteran sweet chestnut tree at Edale End

Spotlight on work done by the Peak District ‘Woods for the Future’ Appeal

Local running clubs have used the action movie exhortation ‘run for the trees!’ this year, not to warn members of approaching zombies or gun toting bandits, but to help preserve and grow the woodlands of the Peak District by raising over a thousand pounds for the National Trust’s Peak District Appeal at local races.

National Trust Peak District Appeal: Assistant ranger Hannah Cantrell and volunteer ranger Matt Hilton-Webb checking newly-planted trees above Howden reservoir

National Trust Peak District Appeal: Assistant ranger Hannah Cantrell and volunteer ranger Matt Hilton-Webb checking newly-planted trees above Howden reservoir

“Runners, climbers, cyclists and walkers are telling us they want to put something back into the countryside they love, and we’re really grateful to the organisers of fell races at Wirksworth, Ilam and Longshaw for helping us kick start our fundraising this year,” said Jon Stewart, General Manager for the National Trust in the Peak District.

“For many active people, the Peak District is effectively their sports stadium, but in a wonderful natural environment. By making a donation or choosing the Peak District Appeal as a designated charity for an event, they’re putting something back for themselves and helping our countryside for generations to come.”

Since its launch earlier this year, the Peak District ‘Woods for the Future’ Appeal has already raised £15,000 to support the National Trust’s clough woodlands project in the High Peak to bring thousands of native broadleaf trees back to the moorland valleys, to help wildlife as well as reduce flooding lower down the hills.

Money raised will also contribute to the creation this year of a new native tree nursery at Longshaw, and help plant native trees like lime, maple and yew in the White Peak to keep woodlands alive in areas that could be devastated as ash dieback disease spreads.

National Trust Peak District Appeal: National Trust ranger Myles Brazil by the veteran sweet chestnut tree near Edale End Farm

National Trust Peak District Appeal: National Trust ranger Myles Brazil by the veteran sweet chestnut tree near Edale End Farm

This autumn, some of the money raised is already going into the planting of 300 new trees in areas affected by ash dieback in Dovedale and Taddington Woods, including native oak, lime, field maple and alder.

“We’re asking anyone who loves the woodlands of the Peak District to think about how they can help,” said Jon Stewart. “That might be running for the trees, or sponsored events by families, churches or community groups, or asking your walking, cycling or mountaineering group to step, pedal or climb for the trees instead.”

He added that £10 would pay for a new tree sapling to be planted with a temporary protective guard, and each native tree could eventually set seed and lead to a dozen or more trees in future.

National Trust rangers and volunteers will be choosing their own favourite trees to highlight why trees and woodlands are so important to Peak District people.

National Trust Peak District Appeal: Volunteer ranger Lu Watkins with daughters Olivia and Sophie in an old oak tree at Longshaw

National Trust Peak District Appeal: Volunteer ranger Lu Watkins with daughters Olivia and Sophie in an old oak tree at Longshaw

“We’re asking lovers of our National Park to nominate their own favourite Peak District trees after making their donation,” said Jon. “Just tag a picture of your trees with #peakdistrictNT on social media and then we can all appreciate them.”

Donations can be made at: National Trust Peak District Appeal

300 year old sweet chestnut tree at Edale End Farm

Open grown trees like this tend to spread wider and higher than trees in woodland, and often show marks where farmers have removed branches to use their machinery in nearby fields.

“As trees grow older, they veteranise, which means things go wrong with them, a bit like people. But it’s not a bad thing, because holes and dead wood create habitats for insects, birds and bats,” said Myles.

“Sweet chestnuts have been here since the Romans who ate their chestnuts, like we do at Christmas. Birds, squirrels, mice and badgers eat them too.

“My advice is to sit under a tree you like for 20-30 minutes and stay quiet. You’ll then see all the birds and insects that live there coming in, and even get to know how that tree sounds, especially if there’s a breeze.”

200+ year old sessile oak at Longshaw

Longshaw is cold and windswept in winter, which often makes trees like sessile oaks smaller than they would be elsewhere. Some of this tree’s low branches touch the ground, possibly after being pulled down to spread the tree’s crown and produce more acorns for pigs many years ago.

“This is a majestic, old playful tree,” said Lu. “It draws you in to bounce, clamber, swing or just to sit under it to rest and de-stress.”