May 1, 2020
Reflections on meteorological conditions in Redesdale by Jennifer Care, Revitalising Redesdale Farming and Wildlife Officer.
From glorious sunny days, donning sun hat and sun cream, to cold days with sleet going sideways, attired in wellies, lots of layers and full waterproofs, leading practical conservation tasks in Redesdale has me out in almost all weathers. The challenge is to be prepared for the conditions on any given day.
This is not as easy as it sounds. The climate of the Rede Valley can be quite different from that in Newcastle when I set out. As confirmed by residents, weather also varies within the catchment and forecast predictions for Redesdale are not always reliable.
In late February 2019, I was working with volunteers helping restore an amazing peatland site near Elsdon, by removing self-seeded non-native Sitka spruce. In the space of only seven days we had magnificent sunshine (enough to bring out the sun cream), thick fog which reduced visibility to only a few metres and then snow!
I’ve learnt from experience that having options for extra layers is generally a good idea – and to make sure volunteers know to be well prepared too. Many of the volunteers are very experienced at this, bringing mats to sit on for eating lunch, waterproof bag coverings and even waterproof socks!
However, I was caught out last December. I was heading up a hill near Rochester with a group of volunteers for more peatland restoration work on a particularly wet site. It was late December, so cue plenty of layers, insulated wellies, fleece-lined trousers, full waterproofs, hat, welfare bag with spare warm gloves, hats etc. After a chilly start, the day became unseasonably warm and there is only so much it’s polite to take off or practical to carry. I ended up spending a day slightly uncomfortably hot!
Whatever the weather, I enjoy being out in Redesdale – if suitably prepared! In pleasant weather, it can be a relaxing and peaceful place, with big views, marvellous and unexpected wildlife encounters and amazing landscape. In inclement conditions, the wet, windy and wild weather can bring atmosphere and energy to the landscape, showing off the power of natural forces.
Then of course, after a cold, wet day out, there’s the heightened appreciation of being back in the warm and dry at the end of the day!
No practical conservation tasks are taking place at the moment, but if you fancy getting involved with this sort of volunteering later in the year then, after the restrictions imposed due to Covid-19 are lifted, please register as a Northumberland Wildlife Trust Conservation Volunteer at https://www.nwt.org.uk/get-involved/volunteer
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Revitalising Redesdale Partners are delivering a range of projects to “inspire and enable us all to care for Redesdale."
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