I had cause to take a walk through the woods at The Wild Boar recently, led very proficiently by Charlie Lemm, the son of Andy and Michelle who manage The Wild Boar Inn. Having forgotten my wellies, I was relieved that the Inn had a choice of sizes to borrow – and we needed them!
Expecting to find not much more than a few old trees – after all it is an ancient woodland! – I was amazed at the range of trees, wildlife, history, art and activities that makes this 72 acre site a very special place indeed.
There are various trails through the woods, well marked and graded. A wonderful example of an ancient Sweet Chestnut stands beside the many trunks of coppiced sweet chestnuts, the wood having been used for charcoal in the production of gunpowder and methanol explosives in the First World War. Continuing on the military theme, the former rifle platforms are evidence that the woods were used for target shooting by volunteers of the Rifle Corps in the Great War. Our map shows ‘HellFirePass’ and ‘Blighty Don’, memories perhaps of action in the Crimean and Boer Wars. Even earlier than this, the woods supported the thriving textile industry in Kendal, supplying softened flax fibres from the many retting ponds, now drained and colonized by wetland species.
Beautiful examples of alder, silver birch, hawthorn, holly, hazel and wild cherry take their place amongst the majestic douglas fir, sessile oak and sweeping larch. The variety of trees is dwarfed in number only by the range of birds and wildlife that can be spotted in the woods; over forty different species of birds including mistle thrush, treecreeper, greater spotted woodpecker, pheasant, sparrowhawk, eagle owl and peregrine falcon. In Springtime Charlie and little brother Alfie have the delight of watching via webcam some of the eggs hatch in nesting boxes secreted in the woods. If you happen to find yourself in the right place at the right time the quick of eye might see foxes, badgers, squirrels, otters, lizards, adders and slow worms, red deer and roe deer.
- Written by: +Tina Taylor