Dogs in the copse

The copse at Trelissick is used as our woodland activity centre; it is home to our Saturday green woodworking club and offers a fantastic setting for children’s educational activities, barefoot walking and family learning groups. Because of the way we all enjoy and benefit from this woodland area, along with the apparent rise in dog walkers using the countryside at Trelissick, we have decided to make the copse a dog-free area.

We realise that this move may prove unpopular but our decision has been made after careful consideration, respect for the users of this site and recent experience. The latest clean up of the copse collected more than sixty bags of dog poo from within the fenced off area and, several weeks ago, a den building exercise involving four and five year old children ended with a number of the children, parents and materials adorned with a pungent coating of dog poo!

We have hundreds of acres of for you and your dog to explore at Trelissick – from the park and woodland walks to Tregew and Roundwood Quay. It is for a very specific set of reasons that we don’t allow dogs in Bodger’s Copse :

  • Dog poo and children’s activities don’t mix
  • Allowing your dog into this area, no matter how well behaved it is, distracts learning groups and disrupts activities
  • Some people, especially children, are frightened of dogs however friendly your dog may appear to you

We are aware of the public demand for more dog bins situated throughout the park, however the rangers here are a small team dedicated to a large area of countryside, which also includes the North Helford River. The task of emptying the dog bins is contracted out to the local council who need direct, vehicular access to the bins. This is why all three dog bins on the estate are situated on or near roads and the reason why it is not possible to place them in the park or woodland.

– The Trelissick and North Helford ranger team.

 

 

Posted in Trelissick

Spring days at Trelissick

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The beautiful spring came; and when Nature resumes her loveliness, the human soul is apt to revive also -Harriet Ann Jacobs

May is upon us and spring has well and truly declared itself at Trelissick: April has come and gone and, despite its reputation for being all months in one, was mostly spectacular skies and sunshine.

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Swallows, one of the true heralds of spring, have returned from their astonishing odyssey over the Sahara and can be seen swooping and head skimming their way around Pill farm, where the ranger team are based. The orchards around the farm grounds are also brimming with pink and white blossom, abundant in its promise of sweet autumn apple harvests.

An amble through the park or a stank along the woodland walks in the coming days will affirm that all but the most reluctant trees are bursting their buds in a barrage of fresh green leaves, casting shade on constellations of celendines and primroses as they cluster along the footpaths, speared by the occasional spike of rust-tipped sorrel.

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The clearance work that was carried out down at Roundwood over the last few years has brought the woodland floor back to life. Beneath towering beech trees and twisted sessile oaks, you can find a haze of bluebells broken here and there by clans of delicate, white flowered wood anemones. 

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If you decide to venture further, across to the paths and tracks of Tregew, you will find them crowded with towering alexanders, cow parsley and hogweed, whilst spindly stitchwort and brazen patches of pink campion stand out defiantly from the seasonal dress code of green. When walking in this area, please consider the skylarks that have returned to nest the stubble fields. This species are one of the classic British songbirds but are becoming increasingly rare owing to habitat loss. Skylarks both nest and feed on the ground during the spring months, making it extremely important that dogs are kept on leads in this area. We manage the cutting of these fields to allow for nesting times and leave the stubble to provide plenty of food.

We hope to see many of you soon, enjoying the wild flora and fauna of spring at its best…..

The ranger team, Trelissick and North Helford

Posted in Trelissick

Spectacular stinging nettles

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Stinging nettle [Urtica Dioica]

You will surely have noticed, on your walks around the countryside this spring, the sheer green abundance of armoured Urtica growing in the hedgerows and the woodlands, the footpaths and the fields.

Nettles are one of the vegetable world’s richest sources of iron making them invaluable for those who may be suffering from anaemia, during menstruation or just for general strength and energy. These plants are incredibly rich in vitamin c, indispensable as a tonic and antioxidant, and great for eczema, skin, hair and eyes. Vegetarians might also take note; nettles are ten percent protein, which is more than any other vegetable with the exception of hemp.

When gathering nettles, soup is my initial inclination but the nettle and sorrel risotto recipe I have included at the end is a great combination of both edible plants.

I am quite evangelical about stock – I sincerely believe it is fundamental to making great soup or risotto and so I have included basic recipes for both chicken and vegetable stock. You can just use bouillon if you wish and I’m sure the results will be delicious but great stock can elevate soup to a world beating standard.

Garlic bread is a perfect accompaniment to nettle soup and if you can find some ramsoms then the recipe further down the page is well worth a try!

Picking

Nettles start picking up steam in our hedgerows from the end of March and are probably at their best through April and the beginning of May. After this time the plants can become a bit course and hairy.

If you are picking nettles from your garden then a strimmer is your friend; strimmed nettles will send up new growth which is perfect for eating – keep harvesting and strimming and they will keep coming!

Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall suggests that ‘a carrier bag is the standard measure’ when collecting nettles and I suppose that may suit us all. Wear a pair of substantial gloves if you want, although if you grasp the stem firmly below the top leaves then you can avoid being stung quite successfully. Pick only the tips and first pair of leaves of young green nettles for soup. It must be remembered that from May onward, the nettles may have begun to flower and these keen individuals are best avoided for culinary purposes.

Note: Both the soup and risotto recipes included here have been taken from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall. This is simply because I have tried many recipes and these are the best examples I have found – his method of thickening the soup with rice makes a fantastically light and refined soup.

The stock and butter recipes are my own, hence the rambling, scatter-brained instructions. Forgive me….

Nettle soup 

Serves six

Around 150g nettle tops
30-35g knob of butter
1 onion, peeled chopped
1 large or 2 smallish leeks, trimmed, washed and finely sliced
2 celery sticks, chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp white rice, such as basmati
1 litre vegetable (or chicken) stock
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
6 heaped tbsp thick, plain yoghurt, to finish
1 small bunch chives, to finish

Pick over the nettles, wash them well and discard any tough stalks. Melt the butter in a large pan over medium-low heat, add the onion, leek, celery and garlic, cover and sweat gently for 10 minutes, stirring a few times, until soft but not brown. Add the rice and stock, bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Add the nettles, stirring them into the stock as they wilt, and simmer for five minutes or so, until the rice and the nettles are tender (very young nettle tops will need only two to three minutes). Season with plenty of salt and pepper.

Purée the soup in two batches, reheat if necessary and check the seasoning. Serve in warmed bowls, topping each portion with a large dollop of yoghurt and a generous sprinkling of snipped chives.

Chicken stock recipe

Almost any parts of a chicken will do for stock; breast is not really suitable and is kind of a waste to use but legs, drumsticks, carcasses, neck and wings are perfect and flavoursome. Sling them in a large pan with any or all of the following; onions, celery, leeks, carrots, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves, thyme. Cover with cold water and then bring slowly up to a simmer; the slower this process happens the better really, it all depends on how much time you have. When the stock has reached a gentle simmer, keep at a medium temperature and skim off any impurities that have risen to the surface. You can continue to simmer [and skim every now and again] for anything from one to four hours, depending on how chicken-y you like your soup. Strain it through a sieve. This stock would keep in the fridge for up to four days or, if you are making a big batch, divide it up and freeze it in meal sized quantities.

I find it most convenient to make a chicken stock after we have had a sunday roast. Just throw the carcass into a pan with any root veg and/or herbs you may have left over and proceed as before; it really is very little hassle this way and totally worth it, both in terms of flavour and nutrition.

Vegetable stock recipe

Most vegetables are great for stock although I don’t trust courgettes for this purpose – they just seem wrong. A base of onions and leeks is needed; carrots and celery are good and in Europe they swear on including celeriac, for increased vigour and health. Chop them or grate them into a large pan. Include peppercorns, thyme, garlic and bay leaves for greater depth of flavour. Bring slowly up to a simmer and skim off any impurities that have inevitably shown themselves. Simmer for 40 mins – 1 hour. Leave all the veggies to cool in the stock then strain through a sieve. If you have time, leave all the veggies in the stock overnight and then strain it in the morning; this will give you a far more pronounced vegetable flavour.

Ramsoms/wild garlic [Allium ursinum]

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Allium ursinum, also known as ramsoms, wild garlic, buckrams and bear’s garlic is a wild relative of chives, native to Europe and Asia. The plant is so called because of the fondness the brown bear [Ursus arctos] is said to have for its bulbs.

These plants can be found, often in large, carpet-like quantities, growing in shady deciduous woodlands with moist soil. In Britain, ramsoms are frequently associated with bluebells [Hyacinthoides non-scripta] and are considered to be an Ancient Woodland Indicator [AWI] species.

Ramsom leaves are edible and can be used as a salad, herb, cooked as a vegetable, in soup or as a replacement for basil in pesto. In Cornwall, there is a variety of Cornish Yarg wrapped in wild garlic leaves.

Ramsom [wild garlic] butter

In my opinion, ramsoms make a far superior garlic butter to the one you can make from bulbs. It is more delicate, fresh and assumes a wonderful bright green colour that is ultimately correct to serve in the spring.

A handful of ramsoms [more or less is just preference]

A block of softened butter

A food processor

Method: Blitz it until bright green. If mix becomes too ‘liquid’ then chill for 20-30 mins before serving. Delicious spread thickly on slices of crusty baguette.

 Common sorrel [Rumex acetosa]

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Common sorrel [Rumex acetosa] is a perennial herb in the same family as dock leaves. It has been cultivated for centuries across Europe and used in soups and salads.

Sorrel has a zesty, sharp flavour that is often compared to kiwi fruit. This taste is because the plant contains oxalic acid.

Sorrel and nettle risotto

Serves two

Around 100g young nettle tops
About 900ml vegetable (or chicken) stock
30g butter, plus extra to finish
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
175g risotto rice, such as arborio
Sorrel leaves – up to half the quantity of nettles – finely shredded
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
50g finely grated matured goat’s cheese, parmesan (or vegetarian parmesan) or other strong hard cheese, plus extra to serve

Wash the nettles, pick them over and discard the tough stalks. Bring a large pan of well-salted water to a boil, throw in the nettles and bring back to a boil. Blanch for a couple of minutes, then drain. When cool enough to handle, squeeze the nettles to extract as much water as possible and chop finely.

Heat the stock until almost boiling, then keep warm over a low heat. In a large, heavy-based pan, melt the butter over a medium-low heat. Add the onion and sweat for eight to 10 minutes, until soft and translucent but not browned. Add the rice, stir to coat the grains, pour in a third of the hot stock and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring, until almost all the stock has been absorbed, then add the chopped nettles and a little more stock. Keep adding stock a bit at a time, making a new addition when the previous one has been absorbed, until the rice is nicely al dente (you may not need all the stock) – around 20 minutes in all – and the texture is loose and creamy. Stir in the sorrel, and season to taste. Dot a little butter over the risotto and sprinkle on the cheese. Cover, leave for a few minutes, then stir in. Serve straight away, with more grated cheese on the table.

 

I hope I have encouraged you to try some of these delicious, very nutritious foods that grow wild and in abundance throughout our hedgerows and woodlands in the spring and summer.

– Joe Harris

Woodland warden, Trelissick and North Helford

Posted in Join In, Trelissick

Why do we have grazing animals at Trelissick?

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As many of our keen-eyed visitors will have noticed, the time of year when the cows come back to Trelissick has arrived.

You may also observe that we have created a fenced off area at the bottom of the park to prevent these cows from wandering in. We hope this will encourage you to picnic, play and enjoy the beach over the coming months of sunshine [of course they will be!]

Why do we choose to have grazing animals at Trelissick at all?

The simple truth is that livestock grazing has played a crucial part in shaping the landscape that we all enjoy today. Using farm animals helps to promote a rich and diverse habitat of plants, fungi and animals [particularly insects] by controlling the more aggressive species which would otherwise come to dominate these areas. In turn, the insects that depend upon the livestock provide a vital food source to local populations of birds and bats.

Grazing is also a more gradual, gentle method than cutting or burning and gives the littler lifeforms more time to move around or escape whilst the work is happening. Long term, grazing is also more cost effective and sustainable than the use of machines.

Cattle are fantastic for this type of management because they use their tongues to pull vegetation into their mouths. As a result they do not graze too close to the ground and leave tussocks which are havens for insects and small mammals. Cows are also not very picky about what they eat and so don’t target flower heads and other herbs, essential for the future diversity of these areas.

Aesthetically, seeing farm animals moving around the landscape, for many, brings the views to life and is a timely reminder that the living countryside is both a source of food and employment.

We hope that you will enjoy seeing the cows and the brilliant work they do for us over the coming spring and summer months.

– The Trelissick and North Helford ranger team

Posted in Trelissick

Logging on the Fort

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Frosty Days on the Estate

This gallery contains 4 photos.

  The cold, dry weather allows perfect conditions for woodland work, as well as photography.

Gallery

Clearance Work on the North Woodland Walk

The Ranger Team of staff and volunteers have been carrying out thinning and clearance work on the North Woodland Walk. Much of the area which we are felling this year is important characteristic oak fringe woodland which surrounds the river banks and is a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The work involves coppicing the holly understorey and removing beech seedlings to encourage oak regeneration. This also allows more light to reach the woodland floor, encouraging a proliferation of woodland wildflowers and heather and is ideal for many insect species. In turn, this provides food for many woodland bird species including tree creepers, firecrests, black caps and the rare lesser spotted woodpecker. We also have the only recorded site on the river for the very rare Barbastelle Bat which is dependent on these ancient oak woodlands.

To maintain this area in a favourable condition for the wildlife it supports it requires thinning to encourage the native sessile oak trees and coppicing of the other species. Coppicing is a very ancient form of woodland management where broad-leaved trees are cut down to their base on a rotation. The coppiced stools re-grow producing many stems and will be harvested again in 15 years’ time.

The clearance work may appear drastic to start with but we leave oak trees and some other standard trees to grow on. These standard trees will eventually form the canopy in many years to come. Unfortunately the majority of the trees are very badly squirrel damaged and the thinning work will help to protect the oak trees which are left as the squirrels tend not to like the large gaps between the trees. The timber produced will be used for logs and charcoal and the brash piles are left for the benefit of wildlife. Some of the wood will be used by Dave the Bodger for free wood working courses held in the Copse in the Parkland most Saturdays.

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Posted in Trelissick