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Middle Sixth Countryside Management visit to Holkham Hall

Recently the Middle 6th Land Based Studies pupils went on a 3 day study tour of the impressive and innovative Holkham Hall Estate in North Norfolk.

This estate, the ancestral home of Coke family, consists of 25,000 acres of deer parkland, woodland, varied farming enterprises, an anaerobic  digester supplying gas to the national grid, a national nature reserve, a pheasant shoot and beach. This was a fantastic opportunity for the pupils to see land management of the highest quality, achieved by  significant investment to ensure the sustainability of the estate. The core message from Lord Coke was that he wanted to leave the estate in a best condition for generations long into the future – something we hope will inspire our pupils who will one day manage swaths of our countryside and rural businesses.

The pupils spent the first morning with the head game keeper viewing the game larder and having a recap on trapping pests and controlling predators. A very instructive tour of the kitchen garden followed, where the students sampled the raspberries and grapes straight off the vine. The next day saw a tour of the anaerobic digester, this modern method of using silage for renewable energy production was a big hit with the students who enjoyed watching the heavy machinery and at least one was heard to say “this is proper farming, I love it!”. Of course the chance to climb on board a tracked tractor was an added bonus.  The afternoon was spent touring one of only two privately owned national nature reserves and hearing of the challenges that increased access can cause to a delicate site.  

The evenings were spent at an activity centre where the boys and girls threw themselves into climbing, archery, laser quest and the Jacobs ladder.  This was a very useful confirmation of knowledge trip for the middle 6th which also helped to show them the range of career options that become open to them once they obtain a countryside management qualification.