Thomas Bewick celebrations at NT Cherryburn

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Cherryburn © David Gill

This weekend marks the anniversary of the birth of the wood-engraver Thomas Bewick at Cherryburn in Northumberland on 10 or 12 August 1753 (see ODNB). The property is now owned by the National Trust.

Further information is available from the Thomas Bewick Society and the Natural History Society of Northumbria.

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Cherryburn © David Gill

Branding the beauty – red chair moments from Parks Canada

In a nod to the shift from the experience to transformative economy in site management and interpretation, Parks Canada has been placing red chairs in scenic locations around its National Parks. These are designed to not only provide a passive viewpoint experience of natural heritage and landscape, but also generate a proactive sense of adventure in the visitor (the transformative bit) who is encouraged to seek out the locations where the benches have been placed.

The programme has been running for around three years, having started in Gros Morne National Park and has featured in social media and advertising across the country, with each Park taking its own approach to promotion.  The hashtags #ShareTheChair and #TimeToConnect hook in to the idea of shared outdoor experience and connecting with nature to bring about wider wellbeing.

The chairs themselves have heritage background, built in the Adirondack or Muskoka style, are bright red and carry the Parks Canada organisational logo.  The chairs can also be bought from the Parks Canada website (children and adult sizes available).

It is an interesting approach by the organisation, though has attracted some criticism – but as a site intervention of experiential design which incorporates a call to action, heritage, branding, visual stimulus, and landscape interpretation, it is effective.  I hope to capture my own red chair moments in the next month and will no doubt participate in #ShareTheChair as I encourage a couple of teenagers to disconnect from their phones for a moment.

In the UK, we have seen smaller scale equivalents at individual sites with National Trust branded deckchairs, and very subtly branded picnic benches at English Heritage sites.

Directions to the first Caerlaverock Castle

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Caerlaverock Castle © David Gill

A path takes you through the woodland behind Caerlaverock Castle to the site of the first moated castle. The route is designated by discreet Ministry arrows signs (also found at Dunadd Fort).

The wood is adjacent to the nationally significant nature reserve.

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Caerlaverock Castle © David Gill

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Caerlaverock Castle © David Gill

 

 

Wicken Fen

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Wicken Fen © David Gill

Wicken Fen is a major National Trust property in Cambridgeshire, and a National Nature Reserve. The fen is a reminder of what so much of this part of Cambridgeshire would have looked like at the beginning of the twentieth century – and a reminder of what drainage and modern agriculture has done to these former wetland landscapes. There is a huge bio-diversity in the fen that makes it well worth a visit.

Working Fen Landscapes

Fen cottage at Wicken Fen © David Gill

Fen cottage at Wicken Fen © David Gill

The National Trust Wicken Fen National Nature Reserve is the home to one of the largest numbers of species and sub-species on any nature reserve in England. The extensive reed beds are home to marsh harriers and dragonflies, there is a dedicated butterfly walk, and kingfishers can be seen on Wicken Lode.

But this was also a working landscape. The reeds and sedge grasses were harvested for thatching and making reed mats, and the waterways provided food in the form of eels. The National Trust has preserved a fen cottage to remind us of what life was like on the fen. There is also a fenman’s workshop giving an idea of the range of activities that would have taken place.