Storm Desmond, which devastated parts of the Tyne Valley early in December, also caused havoc to some of our mature trees at Minsteracres.

“We lost about 7 in all, some of them more than 100 years old.” says Andrew Pennington, the environmental consultant who manages the 110 acre estate.

“We have lost larch, beech, lime, horse chestnut and Cyprus trees, and the risk is that the gaps they have left will make space for the wind to get in and potentially bring down others. Larch trees especially are shallow rooted and once one is down it’s very likely that others will follow.

“It’s sad to think that the trees we have lost have been enjoyed by previous generations and are now gone for ever.”

Storms Dec 15 x 4 resized

As part of Minsteracres’ 20 year environment plan around 2000 trees have been planted in the past two years, but it will take decades before they reach the size of the ones that have been lost.

“We won’t see these trees reach maturity – even my grandson won’t, but we’re planting them to protect the future of the estate,” says Malcolm Railton, one of the team of volunteers who are helping to restore the grounds.

“The problem is that there hasn’t been a proper management programme for the estate in recent times. Ideally, the trees we’re putting in should have been planted 30 – 40 years ago,” says Andrew. “On the up side, we are in the process of planting around 1000 bluebells, snowdrops, anemone and wild garlic bulbs which will thrive on the woodland floor.

Storms Desmond Dec 15

“It’s been devastating to lose these mature trees, but the future of the woodland is being protected with the replanting programme.”

In the meantime, the programme has been delayed somewhat while Andrew and the conservation volunteers clear away the fallen trees and tidy up the debris. “It’s hard work, but satisfying!” adds volunteer Kevin Page.