Mrs Marjorie Mills, bequeathed the Lumsdale Valley to the Arkwright Society in 1996. Her wishes were; that the Valley and its buildings were maintained in a state of picturesque decay, that the natural habitats were preserved and that the public has safe access to the Valley.
Honouring this passionate legacy is a huge challenge that requires constant work and attention. Without this managed care, the Valley and its natural habitats would quickly become overgrown, the buildings would crumble and the site would no longer be a beautiful and safe place to visit.
In ensuring that this doesn’t happen, the Lumsdale Steering Group of the Arkwright Society hold regular Volunteer Working Parties to care for the Valley.
Having focused on the protection of the industrial archaeology in 2017 (particularly the SPAB Project), the focus of 2018 was on our Woodland Management Plan. The aim was to improve the health, structure and biodiversity of the trees in order to protect against environmental damage, to protect the wildlife by creating a wildlife corridor through the valley and to use judicious tree planting to stabilise wetland areas against water erosion and minimise silt build up in the ponds.
Throughout 2018 there were regular Volunteer Woodland Management Working Parties, expertly led once again by Jan Wilson. Excellent work has been done, through fair weather and foul, with good humour and enthusiasm always in great abundance. An enormous thank you goes out to all those involved. Each month, path/step clearing, step surveys and litter picking is carried out but the additional projects have been many and varied:
- January - the important task of protecting the principle and largest area of truly wild bird habitat in the valley, the Bottle Tip and upper valley wetland areas, was begun. Laying of existing saplings, together with dead hedging, created a barrier to deter people from entering this very precious area. To improve this hedge, ten native hazel saplings together with wild roses raised from seed gathered in the valley, were planted.
- February - native species development continued with the planting of wild garlic on the hillside behind the Paint Mill. Ongoing tree management meant that more dead hedges and woodpiles could be created, as both barriers to footfall erosion and habitats for fungi and insects.
- March - 410 whips of English native understorey trees were planted, all kindly donated by the Woodland Trust. These went into several key locations. The main groups were used to form a native hedge between Bentley Brook Foot Bridge and the fallen wagon stone. A partly laid/dead hedge was created alongside the planting. This will be treated as a wild hedge to develop bird habitat and will be laid on a seven to ten-year rotation. The second area was a random belt of whips across the lower slope of the Bottle Tip again to improve the bird habitat. The fence was repaired at the same time. The trees will be coppiced in groups on a seven to ten-year rotation with some individual trees being earmarked for development into mature specimens. The third area planted was a section next to the Lower Pond to again create bird habitat. This will be similarly coppiced – practising this traditional skill will be a superb learning opportunity for the volunteers. Holly was also planted beneath the Saw Mill, creating a barrier to protect the monument against climbing.
- April – continued reinforcement of various dead hedge barriers, digging out a drain to avoid flooding, clearing in the Lower Bleach works and continued clearing of the rhododendron opposite the Smithy.
- June - skills learnt during the SPAB project were put to good use and extra soft capping in the Lower Bleach Works carried out. Native blue bell seeds were planted high on the slope above the brook in the beech trees opposite to the Paint Mill.
- July - the wildflower meadow next to the Lower Pond was cut back and the hay removed to help promote wildflowers rather than grass. The wall adjacent to the Upper Bleach Works, which had been pushed into the stream, was stripped back and re-bedded using the Lumsdale lime mortar recipe from the SPAB week – further use of SPAB week skills!
- September - Bone Mill tidied, with particular sensitivity to the archaeology.
If you would like to be part of this extremely valuable volunteer team that care for the Valley have a look at our ‘Volunteering’ page for more information on how you can get involved.
Visitor Impact Management
Visitor numbers have increased steadily, mainly due to word of mouth by folk who visit this ‘magical hidden gem’ (the words most often written about the Valley on Tripadvisor) and also through television and radio documentaries and articles written by Valley visitors in the local and national press.
Therefore, as well as a managing the Woodland we also have a plan in place to manage the increasing number of visitors to the Lumsdale Valley most efficiently and sustainably. This plan takes into account the need for the visitors to have a high quality experience but at minimum detriment to, or unnecessary deterioration of, the Valley. The plan also ensures that visitors to the Valley have minimal negative, and maximum positive, impact on the lives of local residents.
The Visitor Impact plan therefore covers a range of issues including; traffic and parking, health and safety, environmental damage considerations including ground erosion, damage to buildings, litter etc.
Please help us care for the Valley by showing consideration for the local residents and by respecting the ancient buildings, the woodland and the wildlife of the Valley.
If you would like to see a more detailed copy of our Woodland Management Plan please contact our volunteer manager at the Arkwright Society on 01629 823256