A day at Roseberry Topping

Last week we spent a day at Roseberry Topping doing a few different tasks…

Roseberry Topping

At just 1,049 feet (320m) high, Roseberry Topping may not be the biggest hill you’ll ever see, but it will certainly be one of the most distinctive. Its shape, caused by the combination of a geological fault and a mining collapse in 1912 has made the hill one of the most beloved and recognisable landmarks in the Tees Valley area. While many visitors come to conquer the hill, there’s plenty more to do besides with a fantastic array of habitats to discover.

This ensures that the Ranger Team are kept busy (not that we’re complaining!).

First off, we investigated a site known as ‘Elephant Hole’, so called due to its enormous size. The hole is relatively close to a public footpath so it is important that fencing is kept in good condition to ensure safety and with some of the fencing in disrepair, we scanned the area surrounding the hole and noted areas for improvement.

Checking out ‘Elephant Hole’

Our next job for the day was to put up a couple of Tawny Owl nestboxes in and around Newton Wood and Cliff Rigg Wood, both of which surround Roseberry Topping. The nestboxes were built by our handy volunteers before Christmas…

Tawny Owl chicks start to explore their surroundings well before fledging, and so when putting up each nestbox we needed to make sure there were nearby branches for them to use. We also ensured there was a clear flight path to each box entrance and that they were facing in a south-easterly direction to avoid harsh sunlight and inclement weather for our little feathered friends.

We will be monitoring the nestboxes this year to see if they become occupied. It may turn out that they are not used this breeding season, but if they remain in place they can provide a roost for owls next winter and provide nesting space in the future.

And finally, some routine repair to a set of well-used steps leading out of Newton Wood…

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Chris | National Trust

Chris | National Trust

The start of winter…

Today’s post is a short summary of some of the things the ranger team have been doing since the start of winter…

We were particularly busy during the latter part of 2011!

Taking out a large stretch of European Gorse at Beacon Hill, a SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) on the Durham Coast kept us busy (and warm) over much of December – we spent at least 9 days cutting this out by hand (which is INCREDIBLY sharp to the touch and resulted in lots of thorn-based injuries). The gorse in this case was encroaching on a habitat of higher conservation value (Beacon Hill is made up of magnesian limestone grassland – a nationally scarce habitat which supports a rich variety of wildlife), and because it was over represented and inappropriate for its location, it was necessary to reduce its coverage.

Gorse cutting at Beacon Hill

We also continued to take out Rhododendron at Penshaw Wood throughout December…

Burning Rhododendron at Penshaw

The rangers also put up a section of stock fencing at Port Mulgrave on the Yorkshire Coast (which was very rewarding on what was a wet and blusteringly windy couple of days).

Putting in a fence post at Port Mulgrave

A nice way to finish before the Christmas break was installing a bench at Roseberry Topping dedicated to a local woman, Dorothy May Evans. A quote engraved on to the bench read ‘UNTIL THE GREAT DAY DAWNS’.

Bench with Roseberry Topping in the distance

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Chris | National Trust

Chris | National Trust