Axed but not out – Cumbria park’s 200 toppled trees return

The re-purposed larches have also come back as wood chips to create a soft landing in the park’s play area

AROUND 200 MATURE LARCH TREES which an Ambleside holiday park was forced to fell are now making a triumphant return to where they grew up.

Skelwith Fold caravan park had to give the trees the chop this winter after the Forestry Commission discovered them to be suffering from a deadly plant disease.

The cull was necessary to prevent the blight spreading, and the park’s family owners said they were “absolutely heart-broken” at having to lose so many specimens.

But the story now has a happier ending as the larches are being up-cycled this summer across a range of building and other projects on the park.

Larches now clad the exterior of the park’s new eco-friendly offices

“We have gone from despair to delight at seeing our trees not go to waste, and instead playing a big part in our sustainability work,” said Skelwith Fold’s Henry Wild.

“For example, the sawn timber has created a stunning natural finish to our new energy-efficient office building which includes an air source heat pump and solar panels.

“The larches are also being turned into everything from fencing, planters and outdoor seating to red squirrel feeders and hand-crafted furniture for our holiday homes.

“We hope to find a good use for virtually every last splinter, even using smaller branches to create wildlife habitats, and turning off-cuts into chippings for our playground,” he said.

Gaps that have appeared in the park’s 130 acres of woodland and grounds where the trees once stood have become part of a rewilding project, said Henry.

“It’s given us a great opportunity to let nature loose and regenerate in its own way, and we’re already seeing saplings, wild flowers and other plants pushing up through the soil.

“We’re thrilled that so many unexpected positives have come out from what we originally saw as a complete disaster, and that has a very special resonance in these times,” he added.

The deadly disease affecting the park’s larches was identified as Phytophthoras, from the Greek for “plant destroyer”, which has become rampant across wide areas of the country.

Henry says he is now hopeful that Skelwith Fold’s quick response to the outbreak will help put the brakes on the spread of the blight in the Lake District.

The Wild family, which has owned the park for nearly 25 years, has won a number of environmental awards for its care of the natural world and many wildlife-friendly projects.

There is more information about Skelwith Fold at www.skelwith.com

Extracted larches have hopefully put a stop to the spread of the tree disease threating the park’s woodlands

 

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