Chapel House Forest Plan
Chapel House Forest occupies an area of 333 hectares and is situated at the southern end of Lake Windermere close to the hamlet of Staveley in Cartmel near Newby Bridge. The north eastern corner referred to as Astley’s Plantation is freehold, and the remaining land is leased from United Utilities on a 999 year lease dating from 1954.
The majority of the forest was planted on grazing land in the 1950’s and 1960’s mainly with spruce, larch, Scots pine and western hemlock. Coupe felling to restructure the even aged forest started in the 1990’s and several areas have been successfully replanted. Boggy areas and associated alder Carrs are common throughout the forest and in 2005 a storm caused catastrophic windblow damage to the south-east corner of the forest which has since been cleared and replanted.
Sitka spruce is the predominant species with larch also extensively planted with growth rates and timber quality being good, apart from where planted too near bogs where growth has been checked. Oak, birch and sycamore can be found on the lower slopes in surrounding woodland. At higher elevations in the forest birch and alder is more common.
Chapel House is situated wholly within the Lake District National Park. One small area of Ancient Semi Natural Woodland (ASNW) is located on the lower western slopes adjacent to neighbouring semi-natural woodland. The ancient woodland status of this area dictates that there is a presumption to maintain native species in line with current Forestry Commission Policy.
Chapel House is an important area for wildlife diversity and has areas of high conservation value. The habitats vary from the Ancient Semi-Natural Woodland of Bells Close Wood on the western boundary, through the coniferous woodland, up to the open heather-filled knolls. The woodland contains many watercourses, marshes, bogs and ponds, and a reservoir at ‘Simpson Ground’. These areas provide habitats for a range of flora and fauna, and are noted for their insect and aquatic life.
Archaeological features are minimal because the predominance of rocky outcrops and wetland will have severely limited land use in earlier periods. A potash kiln in Bell Close Wood has been identified by the Lake District National Park.
This is a popular site for low impact, informal recreation. There are limited facilities which include:
• Gummers How car park which holds approximately 30 cars and its accompanying picnic areas.
• Small parking area adjacent to Barrowbanks entrance (3/4 cars)
• 4 miles of public footpath
• 1.5 miles of public bridleway
The car park is mainly used by people walking to the summit of Gummers How (off our land). There is widespread use of the forest roads and other informal tracks and paths throughout the woodland area. The local community access the forest mainly for dog walking with some cycling and horse riding via the Barrowbanks entrance and along the public rights of way.
Our aim is to create a more diverse and resilient woodland, with a greater range of species and habitats. The objectives of management here are:
•optimise the financial return from timber production compatible with the achievement of other district objectives
•continue to diversify the age class structure of our even-aged woodlands and increase the value of all our woodlands and forest for wildlife
•ensure that rare and threatened habitats are protected and managed to maintain or enhance their conservation value
•utilise the land and resources at our disposal to assist communities close to our forests to enhance their environments and hence their quality of life
•provide public access to all our forests and woodlands where there are no legal or safety restrictions
What we'll do
The proposals in this plan will lead to a more diverse and resilient woodland, with a greater range of species and habitats. Substantial areas of alternative conifer species will have been established, and the range of broadleaved species and open habitat will have been extended.
Timber production remains a priority and will continue through a clearfell/restock regime with the focus on Sitka spruce but with a much broader range of conifer species and broadleaves at the lower elevations. This strategy will also contribute toward climate change mitigation and long term forest resilience.
Public use of the forest will continue to be made available with ongoing maintenance of permissive and public routes as appropriate.
The current plan outlines management proposals including felling and restocking over several decades, with felling licence approval for operations up until 2027.
For further information regarding species composition and the future management of Chapel House, please refer to the full plan below.