Hougun Manor Estate update

by Kay (Lord Titles Blog)

The Hougun Manor Estate is an official Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) supporting superb flora and fauna. Deer abound across the Lake District and are often to be seen on the Estate, along with badgers. Much rarer visitors are the native Fell Ponies who generally congregate around Caldbeck. They’re hardy and entirely wild and not that often spotted.

What you are probably going to see easily are the fish of Coniston - the stunningly clear waters allow you to observe trout and perch, from the shore and sometimes, more rarely pike with their distinctive long jaws armed with formidable teeth. If you take a boat trip you may discover that Coniston is also home to char - usually found in the artic! Char is a real delicacy, rivalling salmon in flavour and while most populations migrate to the sea to breed, the Coniston char are land-locked and survive entirely within the lake itself.

In addition to the fish, Coniston offers a chance to observe many wonderful bird species such as the Osprey (which particularly favours Keswick as a location) the Red Kites that fly across the whole of Cumbria. Above the Kites you’ll often see buzzards, which fly really high and therefore appear quite small! On the water itself swans, herons and ducks are commonplace, while at dusk you’ll often come across owls flying along the lakeside.

One of the reasons that the Lake District is such a popular venue for naturalists and wildlife enthusiasts is that it is home to some very rare species - red squirrels for example, are occasionally spotted in the Whinlatter Forest, whilst local farmers graze both the Hardwick and Roughfell sheep, breeds specially adapted to the upper fell-lands.

Around Coniston in particular, the Silurian slate geology means that there is often a spectacular display of bluebells and other broad-leaved woodland flowers such as wood anemone, the common dog-violet. As the woodland drops down to Coniston Water, and the soil is damper, a rarer Lake District flower, the Touch-Me-Not (botanic name Yellow Balsam) which has an unusual seed head - just touch it and it ‘explodes’, firing seed in all directions.

This incredible range of flora and fauna has been recognised recently in a project being funding by the Heritage Lottery Fund, “Conserving Coniston & Crake – caring for water from mountain to shore” is designed to improve the water quality of the area to ensure the future of the rare plans and animals that rely on the Coniston area for survival. There is an ongoing community arts project that includes the Hougun Manor Estate, and will result in interpretation boards and the publication of walk and trail leaflets exploring the regions ecology and history.

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