Lakes park draws red line to protect squirrels   

Red squirrel feeding at an Ambleside holiday park has taken on a new urgency this winter as grey squirrels are finally being repelled from the 130-acre grounds.

Skelwith Fold caravan park is now said to be the new front line for pushing back an army of greys which has marched into many surrounding areas.

The family-owned park is working with the Westmorland Red Squirrels charity to help ensure that its colony of reds remains strong and able to resist the invaders.

The reds are being served up with special high-energy seed blend containing oil of anise which acts as a magnet for Britain’s much-loved native squirrels.

As well as its own feeding stations, Skelwith Fold staff are also replenishing the feeders which many holiday home owners have outside their holiday caravans.

According to business owner Henry Wild, the winter feeding programme has had to be stepped up this month following the early onset of freezing arctic conditions:

“When we first came to Skelwith Fold twenty years ago there was an abundance of red squirrels, but shortly afterwards the squirrel pox struck and wiped them out,” said Henry.

“About a decade later our efforts saw the return of a new colony, and every winter we try to ensure they have enough food to keep them strong until the following spring.

“We are helped by many of the holiday home owners who hang feeders out – but from November until March, the park is closed, so we ensure these are topped up.

“We also have regular visits from experts from Westmorland Red Squirrels who do a great job in helping us monitor how well the reds are surviving.

“The news so far is all positive, but we are conscious that grey squirrels carrying a virus which is deadly to reds are not far from our park gates.

“We’ve been told that our work to protect the red squirrels has helped to create a buffer zone, and we are all determined to ensure that this is the way it stays,” said Henry.

All employees are members of Skelwith Fold’s conservation team which has helped the park gain a number of prestigious environmental accolades over the years.

These include the 2017 David Bellamy Conservation Award presented at its top gold level to the Wild family for their many green initiatives over the past 20 years.

Also this year, Skelwith Fold was crowned as Lakeland’s top holiday park in the Cumbria Tourism Awards for which more than 100 parks in the county were eligible.

Pictures of red squirrels and other wildlife have been posted on Skelwith Fold’s website (www.skelwith.com), and are being constantly updated throughout this winter.