It's Spring and time to transform South Ormsby Estate - column by Jon Thornes, custodian at South Ormsby Estate

The spring flowers and blossoms are blooming and the birds are singing as the weather gradually warms on what could be a great year here in the Lincolnshire Wolds.

Lincoln Red Cattle on the South Ormsby Estate. (Picture courtesy of South Ormsby Estate)
Lincoln Red Cattle on the South Ormsby Estate. (Picture courtesy of South Ormsby Estate)

Across 3,000 acres of beautiful Lincolnshire Wolds countryside, our estate is transforming as the seasons change, with both the natural world and our local producers having a spring in their step.

To encourage tree sparrows, yellow hammers and other farmland birds to make their home here, our Saturday Club volunteers have installed a total of 100 nesting boxes in the parkland around South Ormsby Hall. Earlier this year, the club took part in the RSPB’s Big garden Birdwatch, spotting dozens of garden birds, waterfowl and even a buzzard. Meanwhile, we’ve continued planting new hedgerows across the estate to create more wildlife habitats with a target of 1.1km of new hedgerow planted this year.

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Important work has taken place to help care for St Leonard’s church in South Ormsby, with holes and cavities in its centuries-old stonework being filled and sealed. Volunteers also had the chance to learn some traditional building techniques, getting hands on with the ancient skills of building and producing mud bricks using local material, a press and plenty of elbow grease.

With Easter just around the corner, the head distiller at Massingberd-Mundy Distillery in Driby is hard at work on his next limited edition creation: A rich, dark chocolate gin which will be available to buy from our website in early April. Just 150 bottles of Cacao Gin will be available, and once they’re gone, they’re gone… but don’t worry, our two flagship gins - Burrell’s Dry Gin and Marie Jeanne’s Pink Gin - are available year-round.

The team caring for our glorious original population Lincoln Red cattle are keeping a close eye on the weather, looking out for the opportunity to introduce our new calves to the lush pastures of the estate. Once we’re confident that the frost has passed, they’ll spend most of their lives living outdoors, enjoying a forage-based diet. This means they’re not only fit and healthy, but they have a much reduced impact on the environment and they’ll play a role in supporting biodiversity and fertilising the soil. Across all our arable and livestock farming we’re in the process of converting to organic status, with everything grown to the highest standard.

The arrival of spring also means it’s a great time to get out and about to enjoy the great outdoors and it’s been wonderful to see more and more walkers taking to the trails across the estate. We have a series of walking routes across the area which we’ve worked hard to open up for the public and you can find a map of these, from a short 4km route to our tougher going 9.5km Tennyson Trail, on our website or at the Old School in South Ormsby.

From April 30 to June 5, we’re excited to be hosting daily walking tours in partnership with the Lincolnshire Wolds Outdoor Festival. As well as being guided along a route through the estate, you’ll learn about the wildlife, history and future for our beautiful part of the Wolds.

On these walks, we’ll explain how we look after one of the world’s largest herd of one of the most rare types of Lincoln Red cattle and you’ll get to visit the Massingberd-Mundy Distillery to see how award-winning small-batch gins are produced. Of course, we can’t let you come without giving you a sample, so you’ll be able to tuck into a freshly prepared beef bap, try some of our gins (if you’re over 18) and you can even try out an experimental luxury dessert the team’s been working on. You can do all of this for just £5, but if you register as a Friend of South Ormsby Estate, it’s all free.

To find out more about our walks, visit www.southormsbyestate.co.uk/woldsoutdoorfestival or visit www.woldsoutdoorfestival.com for more walks during the Lincolnshire Wolds Outdoor Festival.