VOLUNTEERS celebrated the 50th anniversary of the National Trust Working Holiday programme and marked National Tree Week with a tree planting project in the Lake District.

The 14 volunteers planted 4,000 saplings near Moss Eccles Tarn; a favourite spot for Beatrix Potter and where she and her husband William Heelis loved to boat, fish and sketch.

The area was cleared of larch woodland after the trees contracted an infection and now native broad leafed species such as oak, birch and hazel stand in their place, improving the water quality of the tarn by trapping sediment and providing a better habitat for local wildlife.

It marked the beginning of a project which will continue into the New Year and will see 4.5 hectares of new native woodland planted.

Woodland Ranger Richard Tanner said: “Home to a variety of rare plants and animals, Moss Eccles Tarn is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Although the disease left us with no option but to fell the non-native larch, it has at least given us the opportunity to change the composition of the woodland for the better; the variety of native species means that the woodland is better able to withstand disease and the effects of climate change.”

This project involved National Trust Working Holiday leaders from across the country, who joined forces to mark the 50th anniversary together.

Co-ordinating the project was Dianne Lang, who has been volunteering with the National Trust for 17 years and has led more than 120 working holidays.

She said: “There’s a huge variety of holidays, and I’ve been lucky enough to have been involved in many; from camping on the fells and fixing footpaths to clearing invasive species, dry-stone walling and hedge laying. We wanted to make a difference while celebrating this landmark anniversary, and this was the last of three tree planting projects to have taken place around the UK. It’s rewarding work - volunteers learn skills from experts and we take part in some very special projects meeting lovely, like-minded people along the way.”

For more information on working holidays with the National Trust, see www.nationaltrust.org.uk/holidays/working-holidays