Dalesman April 2011: Mulgrave Woods

Dalesman April 2011 – Mulgrave Woods

Landscaping by Humphrey Repton at Mulgrave

Landscaping by Humphrey Repton at Mulgrave

As a tree lover myself, it was a pleasure to meet Jim Mortlock, head forester for the Mulgrave Estate, near Whitby.

It was clear that Jim took real pleasure and pride in the woods he cares for, and, as he took me round the estate, I could see why.

He works to a plan laid out by Humphry Repton some three centuries ago – but this is the time scale a forester has to think in. Standing in open parkland by the estate office, Jim pointed out how the swathes of woodland that he is still planting contribute to Repton’s landscape vision.

And, as he pointed out the views, it was clear that Repton’s vision was coming to fruition. There were stands of trees across the treetops, cradling the green vale of pasture and parkland. Here, large specimen trees were things of beauty in their own right.

Across the fields were breathtaking views of the sea and cliffs at Sandsend.

And the well-managed woods, said Jim, were full of wildlife. He showed me trees that he’s kept for woodpeckers to nest in. He likes to see the deer, which are a small, managed population that don’t damage his trees.

As for the flowers, after years of being shaded out, Jim says that thinning out firewood has rejuvenated them, producing carpets of primroses and bluebells in spring.

The policy of mixing decidous and evergreen trees showed its visual benefits when I visited, as dark evergreens provided a foil to the brilliant autumn colours of the hardwoods.

The estate has recently invested in state of the art machinery to cut logs for firewood. Income from these logs has paid for new access tracks into the woods, which are available for public access on selected days.

To buy firewood, or to visit the woods, see http://mulgrave-estate.co.uk/index.php/land-use/access/

About Helen Johnson

Freelance writer specialising in Yorkshire's history and heritage.

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