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Legacy that is funding Horse Power at Tarn Hows, Coniston

Visitors enjoying Tarn Hows © National Trust Images Chris Lacey

[W]ORK to restore elements of a man-made Lake District beauty spot, Tarn Hows, is being made possible thanks to the generosity of a man who loved walking in the area, and bringing his family to picnic and enjoy the landscape created there by Victorian James Garth Marshall.

Martin Pedley’s gift of £10,000, left to the National Trust in the Lake District, is funding the traditional woodland practice of horse logging at Tarn Hows. Over the next five-years Trust rangers will thin out areas of dense woodland opening up views around the tarn. Moving the felled trees, in this ecologically sensitive landscape, is the job of the nimble-footed ‘draught’ horse. They can reach places that modern, heavy forestry machinery cannot with the minimum of impact on the local ecology.

Given his love of landscape and trees, Martin’s daughters feel it is a very fitting use of his legacy, and something their father would certainly have approved of.

On a recent visit they saw how the removal of small areas of birch and conifer trees is beginning to reveal the original Victorian plan for the site by James Garth Marshall. Marshall’s vision was of clumps of trees perched on rocky knolls set against the dramatic Lakeland fells. In the 1860s, the clumps were planted with a ‘nurse’ crop of fast-growing conifers around them for protection. The conifers were to be removed once the groups were established but Marshall died before his plan came to fruition. Now the conifers, along with other tree planting and natural regeneration, dominate the landscape, masking his original design.

Over 300,000 people visit Tarn Hows every year, for its iconic views and accessible walks. Many may not realise how much work is involved in looking after it, a ‘Site of Special Scientific Interest’ (SSSI) with important bogs and other habitats that are protected by UK law.

Tarn Hows, early 1900s

National Trust woodland ranger, Richard Tanner, said: “We want to see the trees for the woods, as Marshall intended. The carefully selected trees are felled and then the timber is extracted. Horses are perfect for this job and it’s good to see them return to this well-loved landscape, working as they would have in the 19th century when Tarn Hows was created.”

“Thanks to the support of many people – through donations, gifts in wills, memberships and visits to properties – we are able to look after all the places in our care. Every penny makes a difference to what we can do.” added Richard.

Anyone interested in finding out more can join a free guided walk at Tarn Hows each Wednesday at 11am, until 26 September or visit:

To make a donation to the National Trust’s Lake District Appeal visit

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