Thursday, 31 October 2013

Sculpture trail and family fun at Anglesey Abbey

Today we opened our new sculpture trail at Anglesey Abbey. The families who've been working on the project since August 'cut the ribbon' and followed the trail through the grounds. Cambridge News sent a photographer, so keep an eye on the local paper - we might be in it!

Strung high in the trees, the giant butterflies look spectacular against a perfect blue sky, while the spider's web and spider have been hung lower so everyone can see the beautiful pewter casts that the children made a few weeks ago.

And we finally got our first sight of the crocodile which the children had dreamt up at the start of the project and which had been brought to life (well, almost) by Angus from the Anglesey gardening team. It's lurking on the bank of the Lode, just near the mill.

The urn at the south end of the Coronation Avenue is now doing duty as an egg cup for the enormous willow egg, spoon and wooden soldiers. We stopped here for a group photo, but the egg is so big, it was difficult to get everyone in!

The sculpture trail project is the third collaboration between Anglesey Abbey and the Croft Child and Family Unit. Funding from BBC Children in Need through Arts and Minds has enabled children and parents to work with artists, creating some of the features that have helped make Anglesey a popular destination for families and community groups, like the Dream Dome and tunnel in the Wildlife Discovery Area, and the prints in Lime Tree Lookout. This year, artist Jane Frost has been encouraging the children to 'think big', and is impressed with how much they've achieved in a relatively short time. The project has been so successful that the Croft Unit have invited Tabi, who helped the children cast the pewter droplets for the spider's web, to run a workshop at the Unit itself. 

After the launch of the sculpture trail, we were busy down at the Discovery Cabin with hands-on activities for visitors. Susie Turner, who's worked with the Croft previously, showed children how to make beautifully detailed leaf prints. 

Willow weaving was really popular, with quantities of baskets, wands, crowns and birds being made (and a few things that were harder to identify). We also had den building, mini land art and printing with stamps. 

So, a busy day, but a lot of people had a lot of fun and went home happy.

Kate Boursnell
Community Reporter

Monday, 28 October 2013

Walk the Fens

It's the last week of the Great British Walk this week. We had our longest walk of the festival at Wicken and Anglesey on Saturday. Keen walkers set out from Anglesey Abbey for an 8 mile walk and Wicken Fen for a 13 mile walk. It wasn't all hard work though, both groups met up at the Red Lion in Swaffham Prior for a pub lunch half way around. Nearly fifty walkers descended on the pub for a well earned lunch break before walking back. 

I lead the 13 mile route from Wicken, it turned out to be one of the most interesting routes across the fens; it avoided too much road and there weren't any straight long stretches where you can see where you will be walking for miles ahead of you, which often occurs on the fens and is disheartening if you have tiring legs!

The route included Walking along Wicken Lode to Upware, then along Reach Lode to the bridge where we got great views over Burwell Fen which had Lapwings and Redshank gathering along with herds of Roe Deer to spot running around. We took a break at the portrait bench by the bridge sharing our snacks with the figures of the entomologist, eel catcher and fen skater. Then it was across Tubney Fen and long a slightly muddy track to Swaffham Prior where we saw a confused Tawney Owl. 

The return journey took a long Devils Dyke to reach so we got our history fix whilst admiring the views you get from being a few feet higher, then walked along Reach Lode back to the bridge and followed the cycle path to Wicken, passing the Highland Cows on Burwell Fen.

Lois Baker
Community Ranger
Wicken Fen 

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Orfordness Rangers Day

Today I am at our annual rangers get together for the East of England where we visit another property and find out what they're working on and share ideas and experiences.

We are at Orfordness on the Suffolk coast which a really interesting place. It used to be owned by the MOD which results in a really unique landscape where there is a very rare shingle habitat with delicate plant communities and marshes with important wetland birds combined with ex military buildings and the danger of unexploded ordanance if you step off the tracks!

We have been finding out about the EU LIFE project at Orford which has worked on managing water levels and subsequent habitats on the marsh and raising local awareness of the importance of the habitats on the ness. We have also been discussing the challenges which future sea level changes and erosion will bring to the site in the long term. There are a lot of community aspects to the projects, last year I spent a couple of days here helping with a community consultation around access to the point.

To find out more visit

Lois Baker
Community Ranger
Wicken Fen

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Soggy Scouts....

Today, on what has to be the wettest day of the year so far I am getting drenched in a field with the only group of people mad enough to be outside the scouts!It's Newmarket District Scouts activity day so 400 scouts are braving the weather to have a go at a range of activities including archery and canon races. We're here to give them a chance to have a go at geocaching, we've hidden some caches at the site specially. Geocaching is just one of the activities scouts can have a go at Wicken. We are also giving out fifty things to do before you are eleven and three quar ters scrapbooks too, I think we can tick off run around in the rain! The successfull cachers are collecting things to make some wild art can you tell what it is? The Chief Scout Bear Grylls has also come to visit, can you spot him the picture?! Lois Community Ranger Wicken Fen

Friday, 11 October 2013

Families create giant art for half term sculpture trail at Anglesey Abbey

Children and parents from the Croft Family Unit are transforming willow, fabric, metal and natural materials into four amazing wild art sculptures for Anglesey Abbey.  
This Inside Out project, funded by Children in Need through Arts and Minds, gives families an opportunity to create art together in a safe and supportive environment. Activities are facilitated by artist Jane Frost who’s been working with the families once a week since August. The children decided they wanted to make giant butterflies and bees, an enormous egg and spoon and an oversized spider and spiders’ webs, so Jane’s been helping them turn their ideas into reality.

Today we made shiny droplets for a giant spider’s web. Jane’s daughter Tabi, a professional metalsmith, showed us how to make moulds from acorns, berries and leaves and pour molten pewter into them. The children made lovely things, it was brilliant fun . . .  and we all got to have a go!

At the end of the session, the children were asked to reflect on how their experience had helped them achieve some of their aims, and it’s clear that the whole project is getting a definite thumbs up from everybody.
If you’d like to follow the sculpture trail and have a go at creating some art yourself from natural materials, we are running sessions at 11am and 2pm on Wednesday 30 October. Normal garden admission charges will apply but it’s free to take part, and there’s no need to book.
Our giant wild art sculptures will be around for a few weeks, weather permitting, so come come along for an autumn walk in our lovely grounds, and be inspired!

Kate Boursnell
Community Reporter
Anglesey Abbey

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Brambles, Brambles, Brambles

The Cambridge National Trust volunteers are a group of volunteers that support National Trust properties in and around Cambridge, doing various conservation tasks every Sunday. They last helped at Wicken in February  clearing out a barn.

Today we did things slightly differently and instead of getting CNTV to help with a task at Wicken I asked them to help me out at  one of the local schools we work with. We've been working with Waterbeach primary school  since 2008 and they have a great outdoor space for forest school lessons. The advantage of a large outdoor nature area is looking after it and around a third has been inaccessible for the last dew years due to being overgrown with brambles. So CNTV came out today to help me and a teacher clear the brambles away. Thanks to their hard work we opened up a lot of new spaces for den building, created a new path around the in accessible part of the outdoor area and tidied up the existing . It was a bit scratchy but there were lots of berries to eat while we worked!

Pics Below!

Community Ranger
Wicken Fen