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Pierrepont Open Farm Sunday Postponed

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We regret to announce that the Open Farm Sunday event which is due to be held at Pierrepont Farm on 11th June has been postponed.


Unfortunately, one of the farm’s much loved cows has registered a second inconclusive TB test result last week. This is an incredibly stressful time for tenant farmers, Mike and Bev Clear and our thoughts are with them.

As soon as we are able to confirm a revised date for Pierrepont’s open day, we will announce details on the website.

To ensure you keep up to date with any CRT news, please subscribe to our newsletter by clicking on ‘newsletter signup’ at the top of the page. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Elaine conquers the Cotswold Way

Elaine Conquers Cotswold Way

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Elaine Spencer-White has once again shown that nothing will get in her way of helping the CRT achieve our Dorset Dream…!

Having set off from Chipping Campden on Friday 28th April, Elaine faced high winds and difficult terrain as she trekked along the 102 mile ‘Cotswold Way’, finally arriving in Bath on Thursday 4th May; shattered, but victorious!

The Cotswold Way is the first of Britain’s National Trails that runs along the Escarpment crossing some truly beautiful country and through historic ‘honey-stoned’ villages and market towns. However, the going is far from easy and the challenge for Elaine was amplified as she took on the demanding trail solo, walking an average of 15 miles a day, with an artificial knee.

Elaine Sencer-White at Bath Abbey

However, despite facing variances of altitude of between 300 and 400 feet several times each day, along with an excruciatingly cold wind and generally poor weather, Elaine took the difficult route in her stride. On the final day, she left Tormarton early and arrived safely at Bath Abbey at around 3.30pm; and although chilled to the core, she still took the time to send us a jubilant selfie from her final destination!

We are hugely grateful for Elaine’s dedication and hard work in taking on this challenge in aid of the Gordon Beningfield Dorset Farm Appeal. Both the CRT and Elaine would really appreciate any retrospective sponsorship donations, which will go directly to our Dorset Farm appeal…it’s not too late to donate!

Please click here to visit Elaine’s Virgin Money page to make a secure online donation.

A Dawn Chorus Blog

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A Dawn Chorus Blog by Sarah Stannage, CRT Director

My daughter Lottie (aged 5) and I decided to head out to the Countryside Restoration Trust (CRT’s) Twyford Farm in the Ashdown Forest to experience something truly magical as part of International Dawn Chorus Day.

On the Saturday we stayed overnight at the Farm’s B&B run by CRT Tenant Farmers Liz and Bob Felton, who greeted us with a wonderful and warm welcome along with Bruce and Colin – the farm’s working sheep dogs who immediately became my daughter’s best friends. After breathing in the views from Bellflower Cottage and watching Bob feed the sheep and lambs we settled in for the night and set the alarm.

It’s 4.15am. We are awake, just. According to my weather App it’s quite a mild ten degrees centigrade outside so we’re dressed in our coats and wearing our wellies we meet up with Dr. Vince Lea, CRT’s Head of Wildlife and five other CRT Friends to hear the springtime twittering, tweeting and chirping of the wild birds. According to Vince the Dawn Chorus is all to do with territory and raising chicks. The male birds want to show off to any females in the area and warn their rivals by letting them know that they have found the best patch of delicious take-away food! Without a doubt singing is really hard work, so only the strongest males are the ones that can boast and sing the loudest. And it’s this that shows the females which male is best placed to feed hungry chicks!

4.30am As we head out to the farmyard the wren is definitely the first bird to sing out followed by a distant pheasant, usually it’s the robin that starts off the chorus but as we head towards the lake and stop by the running stream we can hear an abundance of robins. This burst of singing seems to awaken the fields, lake and woodland around us. Then a song thrush, a few notes lower than the robin starts up with its repeating phrases. Within just a few minutes a chiffchaff, singing its common name joins in, the sound of which for some reason makes my daughter giggle. It’s almost impossible to identify individual birds given the cacophony of notes, melting and merging together. The Dawn Chorus has started.

4.35am The animals seem to join in, I spot a chattering grey squirrel and a silent but boisterous hare emerge.

4.39am There is a rich chorus of farmland and woodland bird species now; robins, mistle thrushes and blackbirds have a backing group of blackcaps and plump woodpigeons. The thrushes are joined by a chiffchaff, so now there are resident and migrant birds in unison. Everything is singing at once! This is the dawn chorus. We can just about make out a woodpecker with its distinctive drumming somewhere in the distant trees, possibly a great spotted woodpecker but this was subject to much debate within the group.

4.44am Rather belatedly a wood warbler, a woodland specialist, wakes up and joins in the chorus although it’s really difficult now to identify individual songs as the soundscape crescendos. There’s also a pied wagtail singing in there somewhere, I think and certainly one had made a nest in the engine of Farmer Bob’s tractor as he was waiting patiently for the eggs to incubate (around 13 days) and the nestlings to fledge (a further 14 days). The sparrows are close to the barns, they like to make the most of the cattle feed available and it’s a great example of how traditional farming practices support nature.

4.55am There’s enough daylight now for me to see my child’s face and her look of total wonderment.  The chorus is still ringing out across the woodland and meadows although I can hear the song level reducing as the light level rises.

5.00am What greater privilege could there be than to be walking amongst friends and hearing the rising birdsong in the annual renewal that is spring. We’re off for some breakfast and a quick nap before helping volunteers and Liz and Bob get ready to welcome visitors and local families to take part in Bluebell Day.

This was truly an incredible experience and something that will stay with my daughter and I forever. The sad fact is less than 10% of today’s children have access to wild spaces compared to 40% a generation ago (Source: Wildlife and Countryside LINK). My heart sinks further at the thought that very few children or even adults have ever heard the Dawn Chorus.

We are working hard at the Countryside Restoration Trust to address this issue and reconnect people of all ages, including children, with the wildlife on our farms. Please support our work to protect the farmed countryside, its wildlife and the people with the knowledge and skills to look after it. When you join as a CRT Friend, you will receive invitations to free events including the Dawn Chorus walks next year, your support will also help us nurture the experiences, the memories and childhoods of future generations to come.

I would like to extend my thanks and admiration to Dr. Vince Lea for sharing his knowledge and insight into the special world of birdsong at dawn. A special thank you also to ornithologist Roger Buisson and trusted volunteer Brian Lavers for their support during the Dawn Chorus events at our other CRT’s Lark Rise and Pierrepont farms.

2017 CRT Events

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Throughout the year the Countryside Restoration Trust are holding numerous events for both Friends and members of the public.

All of the events we hold are a great opportunity to showcase the fantastic work we do on each of our farms and demonstrate how farming with wildlife in mind is not only possible but the way forward. By opening our farms and inviting supporters to learn about the importance of the British Countryside, we aim to give our CRT Friends, supporters and visitors experiences that are emotionally rewarding, intellectually stimulating and inspirational.

2017 also sees the relaunch of our Friends’ Events programme, which will include events such as a Lamb and Cowslip Walk with Robin Page, talks, wildlife walks and farming demonstrations.

Please see a list of all CRT events which will be held this year, below:

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CRT sweetpeas

Friends Subscription Price Increase

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Annual subscription price increase

As a charity we are working hard in our campaign to create a living, working countryside and would not be where we are now without your continued support. We appreciate your generosity and will always find ways to continue our important work, at the same time as offering you value for your Friends subscription.

As part of that effort, we have recently reviewed our pricing structure in relation to general inflation and a number of changes in the industry. Unfortunately we have come to the conclusion that a small price increase on all annual subscriptions is necessary in order to maintain our Friends programme. We have taken steps to minimise our internal costs, but we also want to run a sustainable organisation that is able to deliver the best possible services to the Countryside and to you, our Friends – now and in the future.

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The Hedge Cutting Debate: Less Cutting More Management

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There are rules on when to cut a hedge. Hedge cutting is legally banned in the UK from 1st March to 31st August, in order to protect nesting birds on farms. In 2016, Defra made the decision to extend the hedge cutting ban to include the month of August.

This was based on analysis of bird nesting records provided by volunteers to the British Ornithology Trust. They identified buntings, Bullfinches and Linnets as likely to be active in nests until the end of August. In a call to repeal the August ban, a campaign supported by Farmers Weekly, the NFU and the Country Land and Business Association (CLA), is questioning the “evidence” used to justify the non-cutting period.

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Walking for the Dorset Dream

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Elaine Spencer-White is not letting the Cotwolds get in the way of her ambition to help us reach our Dorset Dream.

Having taken on the 78 mile Wessex Ridge in 2016, Elaine Spencer-White is once again donning her walking boots as she takes on a new challenge in support of the Gordon Beningfield Dorset Farm Appeal.

On the 28th April, Elaine will be walking the Cotswold Way, a 102 mile National Trail along the Cotswold Escarpment. Starting in Chipping Campden, she should arrive in Bath eight days later.

We caught up with Elaine to learn all about this incredible challenge…

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Daffodil Festival

Kempley Daffodil Festival

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The CRT is taking part in the Kempley Daffodil Festival walks on the weekend of the 18 and 19 March 2017.

A section of the walk crosses Awnells Farm in Much Marcle, and Viv Geen, the Monitoring Officer with the CRT in Herefordshire, is leading a guided walk across this section; talking about the wildlife and traditional Hereford cattle on the farm.  Join the walk as part of the Daffodil Festival and learn about this beautiful countryside.

Please note: all walks start from Kempley.

For further details please click here.


For more information about CRT events please visit the ‘latest events’ section on our homepage.

CRT Trustee

Become a CRT Trustee

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This is an exciting opportunity to join the Countryside Restoration Trust’s Board of Trustees.

Do you have recent and relevant financial experience – including a good understanding of developing financial strategy, ethical investment policy and financial controls principles?

Do you have a professional accountancy qualification or demonstrable equivalent experience?

Do you have experience and an understanding of regulations and compliance in terms of financial reporting for the charity sector including knowledge of the new SORP 2015 and its implications for CRT’s reporting requirements?
Then we could use your help! Read More