Friday, September 27, 2019

My year as the Graduate Trainee

Jessie, 2018-2019 Graduate Trainee for Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership

I don’t have long until my contract with the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership is up, and what a year it has been! I have been the graduate trainee working on the Traditional Boundaries Project.

When I started, this project had hardly been touched and my first task was to produce a GIS map with some hedgerow and dry stone wall boundary data that was collected in 2016. This was a challenge in itself as I had forgotten how to use GIS after university!  It was a great excuse to learn more though and I have continued to use these skills throughout the year.
I went out visiting 25 different farms across the area, all part of the PHLP Farmer Network Group, to discuss hedgerows and walls. This was all new to me, and so I was a bit nervous at first, but after the first few farms I was happy to have a brew and discuss what the farmers want restoring. Our Traditional Boundaries project aims to have a positive effect on landscape and Natural Flood Management but of course we also want any restoration work to be beneficial to the farm on a practical level.

After initial discussions I was able to develop the boundary maps and then spent a time visiting and assessing every single boundary (about 360 of them!) so that we can develop a list of boundaries which can be restored as part of the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership.
I have also helped 2 farmers apply to Hedgerow and Boundary grant schemes, a different pot of funding which will be beneficial to boundaries of their choice.

My biggest achievement to date has to be the organisation and delivery of the Lancashire and Westmorland Bowland hedgelaying Competition in March. This is an annual competition which is held across the Forest of Bowland, and we decided this year to host somewhere around the Hill. I couldn't have done this without the help of Dave Padley, who organises the competition (competitors, judges and prizes). I then developed the event further by involving local businesses and the local church hall. There was stalls, cake, a guided walk and lots of local people! All the money raised went back into the Sabden village economy and all agreed it was a great success!

Competitors at the Bowland hedgelaying competition
Inside Sabdden Church hall for the hedgelaying competition. 

Through this event, and other activities, I found my new call to fame and was interviewed a few times on BBC Radio Lancashire. I also sent out press releases to try and tell more people about the amazing work I have been doing, plus writing blogs.

Through my role, I was also lucky enough to join in with some of the PHLP training opportunities. As well as the planning and overseeing, I have got stuck in with a number of beginners hedgelaying and walling courses and managed to improve my skills. In August, I was one of 8 participants who passed their Level 1 Dry Stone Walling test (after 10 days of training in all weathers!).

We still have a few places on our next beginner's hedgelaying course at the beginning of October if you fancy it? Please get in touch via

Participants on the level 1 dry stone walling course. 

Dry stone walling course level 1.

Throughout the 12 months I have been lucky enough to meet some great people through our volunteering opportunities. I have been involved in planning and leading various volunteer tasks and have loved getting involved in the different conservation activities. We have just visited the Peak District with some of our volunteers to learn some new skills and to find out more about what the Dark Peak National Trust do.

Volunteers after Balsam pulling in Barley. 

Volunteers tree planting with the Ribble Rivers Trust

Participants on the hedge laying beginners course

The Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership is led by the Forest of Bowland AONB, which is in turn part of the EUROPARC Federation. Through this link, I was lucky enough to head to a 4 day conference in Germany which was focused on young people and looking at more ways of getting more young people into nature conservation. The trip was really useful, and I learnt a lot and was able to network with people from across Europe.

In my last few weeks before I leave, I am finishing two main projects:

Over the past few months I have been developing a guided route around the Downham area, producing information to be collated into a leaflet focused on the traditional boundaries. I will be launching this with a guided walk on Thursday 3rd October 10am from Downham Car Park. It would be great if you wanted to join me for this scenic 4 mile walk, and I will be talking more about the walls and hedgerows which are so important in our landscape.

Some of the views from the new Traditional Boundaries Downham walk

Some of the views from the new Traditional Boundaries Downham walk

To leave my final mark, I will be arranging the installation of some stone waymarkers at various points on the Hill. I have developed the idea and design of these to reassure people they are heading in the right direction when they reach the top of the hill. We would always recommend taking a map whenever you go for a walk up the hill – but hopefully these signs can reassure your map reading skills!

Thank you to everyone in the Pendle Hill Landscape Partnership team, I have thoroughly enjoyed this year working with you, and I have learnt so much which I can now use to progress on to the next step of my career.


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