Wild Boar Woods are officially known as Gilpinpark Plantation which is a beautiful and historic wooded corner of South Lakeland. The entrance to the wood can be accessed from the rear of the hotel: cross the car park to the gate. Looking south on a clear day, you'll get a view along the Gilpin Valley towards Morecambe Bay and Lancaster.
Many more things can be seen from wildlife to sites of historic interest in an ideal adjoining facility for any guest of the Wild Boar. Enjoy a choice of pre-arranged activities from clay pigeon shooting, archery, motorised sports to the more serene mapped historic woodland trails.
Over many years this woodland has seen many more activities in its long past such as being a Sweet Chestnut coppice, for which records exist back to the 16th century. The last major felling here was in 1915 when the entire wood was coppiced for charcoal, for the production of gunpowder and methanol, used as explosives in the First World War.
There are many Retting Ponds to be found in these woods used to supply the textile industry in Kendal, to produce quality linens and sailcloth. This industry thrived until the 1850s. The ponds have since been drained and have been colonised by wetland species.
The Gilpin Valley was the site of numerous watermills powering a flourishing textile industry, which can be further explored on foot from the Inn with help from a copy of The Wild Boar History Trail available on request at reception. Above the old slate quarry- one of several in the wood- is a carpet of Bluebells in May and Foxgloves in early summer.
The woods provide a natural habitat for Foxes, Badgers, Grey Squirrels, Otters, Lizards, Adders and Slow Worms, whilst Red Deer and Roe Deer frequent the woods.
Birds to be found in the woods include Dunnock, Fieldfare, Goldcrest, Green Woodpecker, Jay Nuthatch, Redwing, Treecreeper and an array of birds of prey like Buzzard, Goshawk, Peregrine Falcon, Sparrowhawk plus Tawny, Eagle and Short Eared Owls.
For guests who would like to find out more about the woods and enjoy the marked trails there are Wild Boar Woodland Trails available at reception. So whether you just want a relaxing stroll in private woodland or to pre-book a more exhilarating outdoor activity, the Gilpinpark Plantation can certainly provide an extra element to any visit to the Wild Boar.
Birds and Trees around the Wild Boar Woods
Birds - The Wild Boar Woods
Blackbird (Turdus merula)
While male blackbirds live up to their name, confusingly, females are actually brown, often with spots and streaks on their breasts. You'll quite often spot these birds hopping along the ground with their long tails up in the air. In winter, migrant blackbirds from northern Europe join our resident birds.
Redwing (Turdus iliacus)
This winter visitor is the UK's smallest thrush, but still manages to reach our shores all the way from Scandinavia. The redwing is most commonly encountered as a winter bird and is the UK's smallest true thrush. Its creamy strip above the eye and orange-red flank patches make it distinctive. They roam across the UK's countryside, feeding in fields and hedgerows, rarely visiting gardens, except in the coldest weather when snow covers the fields. Only a few pairs nest in the UK.
Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
In October, watch out for fieldfares returning to spend the winter in the UK. Fieldfares are large, colourful thrushes, much like a mistle thrush in general size, shape and behaviour. They stand very upright and move forward with purposeful hops. They are very social birds, spending the winter in flocks of anything from a dozen or two to several hundred strong. These straggling, chuckling flocks that roam the UK's countryside are a delightful and attractive part of the winter scene.
Mistle thrush (Turdus viscivorus)
This big, bold spotty thrush is very territorial when it comes to its favourite berry bushes. Listen for its harsh 'football rattle' call. This is a pale, black-spotted thrush - large, aggressive and powerful. It stands boldly upright and bounds across the ground while in flight, it has long wings and its tail has whitish edges. It is most likely to be noticed perched high at the top of a tree, singing its fluty song or giving its rattling call in flight.
Song thrush (Turdus philomelos)
Speckle-breasted song thrushes are always a joy to see in the garden. A familiar and popular garden songbird, whose numbers are declining seriously. Its habit of repeating song phrases distinguish it from singing blackbirds. It likes to eat snails which it breaks into by smashing them against a stone with a flick of the head.
Great tit (Parus major)
Great tits are green and yellow with striking glossy black heads, white cheeks and a distinctive two-syllable song. They feed on seeds and scraps either left on the ground, or on bird tables and in nut feeders, often using their bigger size to boss the other birds off the food!
Coal tit (Periparus ater)
This small tit has a black head with white cheeks and a white stripe on the back of its head. They are very active and agile birds, often seen in flocks with other small birds feeding in woods and hedgerows, as well as on feeders. They take any excess food and store it for eating later. In winter they join with other tits to form flocks which roam through woodlands and gardens in search of food.
Blue tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)
A colourful mix of blue, yellow, white and green make the agile blue tit one of our most attractive garden visitors. In winter, family flocks join up with other tits as they search for food - flitting onto bird feeders, or feeding on seeds and scraps left on bird tables and on the ground.
Long-tailed tit (Aegithalos caudatus)
Looking like a ball on a stick with their long tails and small bodies, you'll probably notice long-tailed tits most when they are in small, excitable flocks of about 20 birds. Both males and females are black, white and pale pink, with distinctive white crowns. Gregarious and noisy residents, long-tailed tits are most usually noticed in small, excitable flocks of about 20 birds. Like most tits, they rove the woods and hedgerows, but are also seen on heaths and commons with suitable bushes.
Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)
The male is unmistakable with his bright pinkish-red breast and cheeks, grey back, black cap and tail, and bright white rump. The flash of the rump in flight and the sad call note are usually the first signs of bullfinches being present. They feed voraciously of the buds of various trees in spring and were once a 'pest' of fruit crops.
Greenfinch (Carduelis chloris)
With its twittering and wheezing song, and flash of yellow and green as it flies, greenfinches are truly colourful characters. Females might be brown, but don't confuse them with female house sparrows - when she flies off, you'll see the yellow in her tail and wings. Nesting in a garden conifer, or feasting on black sunflower seeds, it is a popular garden visitor, able to take advantage of food in town and city gardens at a time when intensive agriculture has deprived it of many weed seeds in the countryside. Although quite sociable, they may squabble among themselves or with other birds at the bird table.
Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)
Arguably one of our most colourful finches, both male and female chaffinches have black and white wings, and a green rump. Males have a pinky face and breast and a blue-grey crown, while females are sandy brown. Its patterned plumage helps it to blend in when feeding on the ground and it becomes most obvious when it flies, revealing a flash of white on the wings and white outer tail feathers. It does not feed openly on bird feeders - it prefers to hop about under the bird table or under the hedge. You'll usually hear chaffinches before you see them, with their loud song and varied calls.
Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris)
The treecreeper is small, very active, bird that lives in trees. It has a long, slender, down curved bill. It is speckled brown above and mainly white below. It breeds in the UK and is resident here. Birds leave their breeding territories in autumn but most range no further than 20 km. Its population is mainly stable
Nuthatch (Sitta europaea)
The nuthatch is a plump bird about the size of a great tit that resembles a small woodpecker. It is blue-grey above and whitish below, with chestnut on its sides and under its tail. It has a black stripe on its head, a long black pointed bill, and short legs. It breeds in central and southern England and in Wales, and is resident, with birds seldom travelling far from the woods where they hatch.
Green woodpecker (Picus viridis)
The green woodpecker is the largest of the three woodpeckers that breed in Britain. It has a heavy-looking body, short tail and a strong, long bill. It is greeny-grey on its upperparts with a bright green rump and red on the top of its head. They have an undulating flight. They climb up tree trunks and branches and will move around to be on the side away from anyone watching.
Great spotted woodpecker Dendrocopos major
About blackbird-sized and striking black and white. It has a very distinctive bouncing flight and spends most of its time clinging to tree trunks and branches, often trying to hide on the side away from the observer. Its presence is often announced by its loud call or by its distinctive spring 'drumming' display. The male has a distinctive red patch on the back of the head and young birds have a red crown.
Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola)
The woodcock is a large bulky wading bird with short legs, and a very long straight tapering bill. It is largely nocturnal, spending most of the day in dense cover. Most of the birds in the UK are residents; in the autumn birds move to the UK from Finland and Russia to winter here. The breeding population has been falling recent years, perhaps because of fewer habitats as conifer plantations become too mature for woodcocks to find open enough breeding areas.
Woodpigeon (Columba palumbus)
Woodpigeons are our largest and commonest pigeon. They have small, round, grey heads, white neck patches, a pink breast, and greyish bodies. You've probably heard its cooing call and the loud clatter of its wings when it flies away.
Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)
A large, long-tailed game bird. Males have rich chestnut, golden-brown and black markings on body and tail, with a dark green head and red face. Females are mottled with paler brown and black. They were introduced to the UK long ago and more recent introductions have brought in a variety of races and breeds for sport shooting.
Robin (Erithacus rubecula)
The UK's favourite bird - with its bright red breast it is familiar throughout the year and especially at Christmas! Males and females look identical, and young birds have no red breast and are spotted with golden brown. Robins sing nearly all year round and despite their cute appearance, they are aggressively territorial and are quick to drive away intruders. Despite its cute appearance, both males and females hold winter territories and will aggressively drive away intruders. They are the only garden birds to sing throughout winter.
Dunnock (Prunella modularis)
A small brown and grey bird. Quiet and unobtrusive, it is often seen on its own, creeping along the edge of a flower bed or near to a bush, moving with a rather nervous, shuffling gait, often flicking its wings as it goes. When two rival males come together they become animated with lots of wing-flicking and loud calling
Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)
The wren is a tiny brown bird, although it is heavier, less slim, than the even smaller goldcrest. It is dumpy, almost rounded, with a fine bill, quite long legs and toes, very short round wings and a short, narrow tail which is sometimes cocked up vertically. For such a small bird it has a remarkably loud voice. It is the commonest UK breeding bird, although it suffers declines during prolonged, severely cold winters.
Goldcrest (Regulus regulus)
The goldcrest is the UK's smallest songbird and is dull green above and buff white below with a distinctive orange or yellow crown stripe. It is a widespread species, closely associated with coniferous forest. In winter it will join with flocks of tits and other woodland species. In the UK it occurs widely save for in treeless areas such as on the Fens and in northern Scotland. It suffers in very cold winters and the recent successive mild winters are a cause for optimism.
Raven (Corvus corax)
The raven is a big black bird, a member of the crow family. It is massive, bigger than a buzzard. It is all black with a large bill, and long wings. In flight, it shows a diamond-shaped tail. It breeds in the west and north only. Most birds are residents, but some birds, especially non-breeders and young birds wander from their breeding areas but do not travel far.
Jay (Garrulus glandarius)
Although they are the most colourful members of the crow family, jays are actually quite difficult to see. They are shy woodland birds, rarely moving far from cover. The screaming call usually lets you know a jay is about and it is usually given when a bird is on the move, so watch for a bird flying between the trees with its distinctive flash of white on the rump. Jays are famous for their acorn feeding habits and in the autumn you may see them burying acorns for retrieving later in the winter.
Magpie (Pica pica)
Magpies seem to be jacks of all trades - scavengers, predators and pest-destroyers; their challenging, almost arrogant attitude has won them few friends. With its noisy chattering, black-and-white plumage and long tail, there is nothing else quite like the magpie in the UK. When seen close-up its black plumage takes on an altogether more colourful hue with a purplish-blue iridescent sheen to the wing feathers, and a green gloss to the tail. Non breeding birds will gather together in flocks.
Tawny owl (Strix aluco)
The tawny owl is an owl the size of a pigeon. It has a rounded body and head, with a ring of dark feathers around its face surrounding the dark eyes. It is mainly reddish brown above and paler underneath. It is a widespread breeding species in England, Wales and Scotland but not found in Ireland. Birds are mainly residents with established pairs probably never leaving their territories. Young birds disperse from breeding grounds in autumn.
Short-eared owl (Asio flammeus)
Short-eared owls are medium sized owls with mottled brown bodies, pale under-wings and yellow eyes. They are commonly seen hunting during the day. In winter, there is an influx of continental birds. They are of European conservation concern and so are an Amber List species.
Buzzard (Buteo buteo)
The Buzzard is now the commonest and most widespread UK bird of prey. It is quite large with broad, rounded wings, and a short neck and tail. When gliding and soaring it will often hold its wings in a shallow 'V' and the tail is fanned. Birds are variable in colour from all dark brown to much paler variations; all have dark wingtips and a finely barred tail. Their plaintive mewing call could be mistaken for a cat.
Peregrine (Falco peregrinus)
The peregrine is a large and powerful falcon. It has long, broad, pointed wings and a relatively short tail. It is blue-grey above, with a blackish top of the head and an obvious black 'moustache' that contrasts with its white face. It is swift and agile in flight, chasing prey. The strongholds of the breeding birds in the UK are the uplands of the north and west and rocky seacoasts. Peregrines have suffered illegal killing from gamekeepers and landowners, and been a target for egg collectors, but better legal protection and control of pesticides (which indirectly poisoned birds) have helped the population to recover considerably from a low in the 1960s.
Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis)
A large hawk, almost as large as a Buzzard. Seen close to it has a fierce expression with bright red eyes and a distinctive white eyebrow. Its broad wings enable it to hunt at high speed, weaving in and out of trees, and its long legs and talons can catch its prey in flight. The female is substantially larger than the male. In late winter and spring it has a 'sky-dance' display. Goshawks are still persecuted and their nests are frequently robbed.
Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
The broad, rounded wings and long tail of sparrowhawks are adapted for flying between trunks and branches enabling them to weave in and out of trees at high speed. They never hover like kestrels.
Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
A kestrel is often a familiar sight with its pointed wings and long tail, hovering beside a roadside verge. Numbers of kestrels declined in the 1970s, probably as a result of changes in farming and so it is included on the Amber List. They have adapted readily to man-made environments and can survive right in the centre of cities.
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
The mallard is a large and heavy looking duck. It has a long body and a long and broad bill. The male has a dark green head, a yellow bill, is mainly purple-brown on the breast and grey on the body. The female is mainly brown with an orange bill. It breeds in all parts of the UK in summer and winter, wherever there are suitable wetland habitats, although it is scarcer in upland areas. Mallards in the UK may be resident breeders or migrants - many of the birds that breed in Iceland and northern Europe spend the winter here.
Greylag goose (Anser anser)
The ancestor of most domestic geese, the greylag is the largest and bulkiest of the wild geese native to the UK and Europe. In many parts of the UK it has been re-established by releasing birds in suitable areas, but the resulting flocks (often mixed with Canada geese) found around gravel pits, lakes and reservoirs all year round in southern Britain tend to be semi-tame and uninspiring. The native birds and wintering flocks found in Scotland retain the special appeal of truly wild geese.
Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
The moorhen is a medium-sized, ground-dwelling bird, and is usually found near water. From a distance it looks black with a ragged white line along its body. Up close it is olive-brown on the back and the head and underneath it is blue-grey. It has a red bill with a yellow tip. It breeds in the UK in lowland areas, especially in central and eastern England. It is scarce in northern Scotland and the uplands of Wales and northern England. UK breeding birds are residents and seldom travel far.
Coot (Fulica atra)
All-black and larger than its cousin, the moorhen, it has a distinctive white beak and 'shield' above the beak which earns it the title 'bald'. Its feet have distinctive lobed flaps of skin on the toes, which act instead of webs when swimming. It patters noisily over the water before taking off and can be very aggressive towards others.
Little grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
A small, dumpy grebe which often appears to have a 'fluffy' rear end. It readily dives when disturbed, surfacing unseen some distance away. In summer it has a bright chestnut throat and cheeks and a pale gape patch at the base of the bill. It can be noisy, with a distinctive whinnying trill.
Grey heron (Ardea cinerea)
The largest European heron. It can stand with neck stretched out, looking for food, or hunch down with its neck bent over its chest. In flight it holds its neck retracted and has large rounded wings. It is usually solitary although several birds may feed fairly close together. It stalks its food, often standing motionless for some considerable time. It usually feeds close to the bank or shore, but may wade out into shallow water.
Eagle Owl (Bubo bubo)
The Eagle Owl is one of the most powerful owls in the world. It is Eagle Owl an inhabitant of Europe and Asia, and is a rarity in Great Britain. It is characterized by its very large size (26 to 28 inches long), the two tufts of feathers on its head and the large orange eyes. It is the largest of the European owls
Trees - The Wild Boar Woods
Sweet Chestnut (Castanea sativa)
Probably introduced to Britain by the Romans who made flour from the nuts, Sweet Chestnut can grow to 30 metres in height. It has massive spreading branches and the bark has characteristic deep parallel ridges which arch sharply near ground level. At 25cm, the leaves are amongst the longest of any tree in Britain and are glossy green and toothed. The male and female flowers form on the same long, upright stalk, the female part being at the base. After pollination, the male flowers die but the stalk remains above the newly formed cluster of nuts. Surrounded by a spiky green case, the nuts only develop fully in good years in the UK.
Sessile Oak (Quercus petraea)
Usually taller and straighter than the English or Pedunculate oak, Sessile Oak has longer leaf stalks and lacks the small lobes at the back of each leaf which point backwards on the Pedunculate Oak. The Sessile leaves taper into the stem at the base. The Sessile Oak tends to grow on poorer acid soils in the western and northern parts of Britain. As a result, Sessile Oak does not support the same diversity of wildlife as the Pedunculate.
Alder (Alnus glutinosa)
Common near water, can reach 20m in height. Mature trees have rather sparse crowns. The bark is brown or grey and has fissures. The leaves are quite rounded & hazel like in appearance, but often have an indented tip. The female catkins are cone like. After the winged seeds are released, the female catkins remain on the tree for some time.
Silver Birch (Betula pendula)
Silver Birch is a short lived deciduous species growing to some 30 metres in height. When young, its branches are upright but become more spreading and pendulous with age. The leaves are quite pointed and have rows of large toothed edges interspersed with smaller teeth. Female catkins are smaller and turn from green to brown during the spring. The bark is generally silver-white in colour and smooth, but near the base it can be rough and fissured with rectangular shaped plates. Silver Birch was one of the first trees to colonise Britain after the last ice age and tends to grow in fairly dry light soils, but only where there is plenty of light.
Downy Birch (Betula pubescens)
Downy Birch can grow to 25 metres in height and has brownish grey bark which is quite smooth and has no rough fissures near its base, distinguishing it from Silver Birch. The branches are more upright than Silver Birch and are not pendulous as the tree matures. The leaves are broader with a much blunter tip than Silver Birch. The teeth on the leaf margins are generally all of the same size. The leaf stalks are hairy and the catkins similar to those of Silver Birch. Downy Birch tends to grow on moist, peaty soils and can form woodlands. It is often confused with Silver Birch which hybridises readily with it. In Britain, the true Downy Birch is just as common as Silver Birch.
Rowan (Sorbus aucuparia)
Also known as a Mountain Ash, the Rowan is a slender tree with ascending branches reaching to 15 metres. It has grey-brown bark and tends to grow on poor soils and in areas with high rainfall. It produces dense clusters of small creamy white flowers in May. Later in the summer clusters of berries form which are a striking bright orange. A native tree, it grows to its greatest height in mountainous areas.
Hawthorn (Cretaegus monogyna)
Most commonly seen as a deciduous thorny shrub in hedges, the Hawthorn can grow to a height if 12 metres as a small tree. It has flaky, bright brown bark. The small white flowers appear before the leaves and turn pink as they mature. Its bright red berries are known as haws and are usually ripe during September. The Hawthorn makes an ideal species for hedging in any wildlife garden as it supports much more wildlife than do urban hedge varieties such as Leyland Cypress.
Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus)
The commonest member of the Maple family in Britain, Sycamore is native to mountainous areas of Central Europe. It can grow to a height of 35 metres in Britain and when mature is sometimes broader than it is tall. The bark is smooth and silvery grey until the tree matures when it gets somewhat rougher. The leaves are dark green and have five lobes with toothed edges. Flowers are produced on long strands that hang down with up to 100 flowers on each strand. The familiar seeds are produced in pairs and have wings situated at about 90° to each other.
Hazel (Corylus avellana)
Hazel is most commonly seen as a shrub because of its lack of a main trunk. Hazel woodlands are usually managed by regular cutting known as coppicing so that each hazel sends up a large number of near vertical branches from ground level. Easily recognisable at any time of year, hazel is characterised by its yellow brown twigs and its developing green male flowers known as catkins during the winter. In spring these catkins open out to release their pollen and appear as long yellow strands.
Wild Cherry (Prunas avium)
The wild cherry usually has single trunk and can exceed a height of 25m (75ft), although often it is less. Suckers are produced from the cherry’s shallow roots, especially if the main trunk has been felled. To obtain fruit, more than one tree must be planted because they are completely self-sterile. The cherries are yellow-red at first, and blackish-red when ripe. They are an excellent eating fruit, but can be bitter.
Beech (Fagus sylvatica)
Beech trees can reach 40m in height and have widely spreading branches. The oval leaves have veins protruding from the edges. The leaves start out yellow-green and turn shiny dark green later in the season. The rich brown leaves of autumn often remain on beech in hedges into the winter. Beech trunks have smooth, silver bark. The mast is a case of four sections which falls from the tree in autumn and opens to allow the seed inside to germinate. Beech seedlings can often be found in large numbers in the woodland during the spring.
Douglas Fir (Pseudotsuga menziesii)
A coniferous tree originating in western parts of North America, it is widely planted in Britain as a valuable timber producing tree. The needles leave the shoot in all directions and have two white stripes underneath. They smell of oranges when rubbed. The bark has large fissures and is dark brown. The tallest specimen of any tree ever recorded was a Douglas Fir. It reached 127 metres and grew in British Columbia, where it was felled in 1895.
European Larch (Larix decidua)
One of the most common deciduous conifers, meaning that it loses its needles in the winter. The tree can reach 30-45 metres in height and has downward-sweeping branches that turn upwards at the ends. The twigs are rough and brown while the main trunk is greyish-brown and has fissures. The needles are bright and first appear as pale green 'whorls' during the spring. The cones can remain on the tree for several years.
Holly (Ilex aquifolium)
The Holly tree is characteristic. An evergreen, it has dark green, shiny leathery leaves with undulating margins edged with sharp spines. Occasionally, the upper leaves or even all the leaves lack the spines and lobes. Holly can grow up to 20 metres in height but is also found as a leafy shrub growing close to ground level where its spines prevent it from being grazed by animals. Its bark is smooth and grey. Holly produces tiny white flowers in May. By July the green berries have formed which ripen to the familiar red berry by September. These often provide a valuable food supply to birds such as Thrushes during cold winter months.
Yew (Taxus baccata)
A long lived tree, sometimes reaching 2000 years. Mature trees are rather short but tend to be broad. The evergreen needles are dark green. The flaky bark is rather reddish in colour. Trees are either male or female with tiny flowers in early spring. Clouds of yellow pollen appear from the male tree if knocked when in flower. The poisonous red berries are called arils as they do not fully enclose the seed. Preferring alkaline soils, Yew is often found in old church yards.
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