One man went to mow

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IF the thought of mowing the lawn is off-putting, spare a thought for Dan Hall.

He spent two hours mowing a meadow at the multi-million pound Saltholme nature reserve, near Hartlepool, so that people could enjoy a new trail.

Since February, Dan and a team of staff and volunteers have been planning, marking out and mowing a zigzagging path to create a new trail at the wildlife reserve and discovery park.

The pathway meandering through the meadow is now open for visitors to explore.

The meadow at Saltholme is set to get even better thanks to a boost of more than £6,000.

With funding from the Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) and The Veolia Environmental Trust through the Landfill Communities Fund, new cattle grids have been installed so that Shetland sheep can perform their own style of mowing when they graze the meadow over the winter.

The sheep are notorious for trying to escape. So the new cattle grids take away the flock’s temptation to stray onto other parts of the wildlife reserve.

Emma Birnie, of Saltholme, said: “In July and August, the meadow is bursting with bumblebees, wildflowers and tuneful birds like skylarks – it’s a summer experience not to be missed.

“For younger visitors, it’ll be like trekking through a jungle filled with butterflies, dragonflies and rustling grasses.

“There are fewer traditional hay meadows than there once were, so we’ve been doing lots of work to make the meadow at Saltholme even better for wildlife.

“Over the coming winter, our flock of sheep will be out in the meadow, grazing the grass to keep the more vigorous plants at bay, leaving wildflowers plenty of space to grow in the spring.”

Margaret Cobbold, executive director of the Veolia Environmental Trust, said: “I look forward to seeing the meadow flourish, which I am sure will be enjoyed by all the reserve’s visitors.”