Cumbria Crack

Volunteers pull together to ‘Fight the Aliens’

Volunteer Dave Emery Balsam Bashing cropped

On Saturday 11th July, the area around Rydal saw a targeted effort from 60 volunteers to hand pull an infestation of non-native Himalyan Balsam. This pervasive species reproduces rapidly and spreads quickly, smothering and pushing out our indigenous plants, particularly along riverbanks, lakeshores and the edges of streams.

The ‘Fight the Aliens’ event was organised in partnership between conservation charities Friends of the Lake District and South Cumbria Rivers Trust.

Ruth Kirk, Landscape Engagement Officer with Friends of the Lake District said: “With the impact and restrictions of Covid-19 regulations we initially thought we would not be able to go ahead with our second year of a mass balsam bash around the Rydal area. We had great success last year but Himalayan Balsam is a pesky blighter and needs repeated pulls for a number of years to stop it spreading.

“Thankfully, as lockdown relaxed, we were able to go ahead with the event with volunteers working safely in small groups. We were delighted that so many turned out to help and make such a difference. We have pulled and strimmed millions of the plants and we think this is probably one of the biggest balsam bashes ever undertaken.

“The task of ‘balsam bashing’ is not technical and is very satisfying. Elbow grease and the energy and enthusiasm of willing volunteers are the most effective tools in fighting this alien invader. We will be having a second event on Friday 31st July. New volunteers are very welcome!”

Anyone wanting to get involved can sign up at:

Or contact [email protected]  01539 720788. Booking is essential.

The event is also supported by the National Trust, Lake District National Park, Lowther Estates, Rydal Estate, C&S Hodgson (Rydal Hall Farm).

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