Autumn gold puts Cumbria park on wildlife red alert

Henry Wild (above) says autumn colours this year will be a big draw – but wildlife could face a harsh winter

Henry Wild (above) says autumn colours this year will be a big draw – but wildlife could face a harsh winter

Cumbria’s celebrated autumn colours are getting an early start this year, says an Ambleside holiday park, and could trigger a September gold-rush to the county.

Skelwith Fold caravan park is now advising thousands of its visitors not to leave it too late if they want to catch nature’s seasonal fireworks party.

Park director Henry Wild says trees throughout the 130-acres of parkland are just on the cusp of an incredible display of yellow, red and orange foliage.

The spectacle could hand Cumbria a winning hand in the race for autumn visitors, he says, and provide a fitting finale to the county’s “staycation” summer.

But, believes Henry, the early kaleidoscope of colours and onset of berries could also mean a red alert for the park’s abundant wildlife.

Early September, but autumn mists are already in evidence

Early September, but autumn mists are already in evidence

According to ancient folklore, he says, a harsh winter could now be in store which will diminish the food supplies on which species such as roe deer and red squirrels rely.

For that reason, Skelwith Fold is now drawing up plans to ensure that its winter wildlife feeding programme is able to cope with all the hungry mouths.

“As soon as the cold weather begins to bite each year, our park sees a friendly invasion of different species which come down from surrounding high ground to find shelter and food,” he says.

“The park already plays host to a large range of resident wildlife, so the swollen numbers obviously place extra pressure on the limited natural food supplies.

“When these extra guests arrive, we set up a series of feeding stations around the grounds with a mix of foods for different wildlife diets.

“It’s proved very successful over the years – but the colder and longer the winter, the more we have to ensure that the stations are kept permanently topped up.

“If Cumbria’s feast of autumn colours is going to be followed by a famine for wildlife, we are determined not to be caught out, and are laying up extra supplies now,” added Henry.

The park, he said, remains full staffed throughout the closed winter season until re-opening in March, and all team members play a part in Skelwith’s wildlife welfare policies.

The business has for many years been an annual recipient of the David Bellamy Conservation Award at its top gold level, thanks to its many initiatives to protect the native flora and fauna.

“Within days of our closing each year, the animals begin to re-assert their presence – and we turn from a busy holiday centre into a bustling wildlife park,” said Henry.

“It does give us plenty of extra mouths to feed, but the sight is a delight – and we’re determined not to let anyone go hungry this year!” he added.

There is more information about the park at www.skelwith.com

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