Helsington Barrows, part of the National Trust's Sizergh Estate near Kendal, is a favourite place of mine in the summer months.
As well as the butterflies on sunny days, there are all the wildflowers around you. And as you ramble around enjoying the 360 degree views to the Lakeland and Pennine fells, you'll notice a strong aromatic scent coming up from your feet - that's the Wild Thyme you're walking on! It is a creeping species with light purple flowers in little clusters. It is particularly fond of the ant hills scattered around the hillside, but it is a hardy plant well adapted to the thin acidic soils here, and to the grazing of our tenant farmer's Galloway cows (who look after the site all year round for us).
Be careful now: the saying ‘ants in your pants’ comes from sitting on ant hills and then getting ants in your pants! Gently rub your hands through the Thyme for a scent that can be taken back home with you. The smell is better to take back home with you than all those yellow meadow ants, anyway...
I am a Ranger at Sizergh Castle. I have been with the Trust for 5 years and my job consists of a wide range of things from woodland management and coppicing, walling, general estate work and visitor engagement. There is lots of great wildlife on the Estate, which is my main passion. So, for instance sometimes I get to help people spot Hawfinches...as a "twitcher" myself this is a real bonus: a hobby I get paid for! It's not just birds though - with over 100 species now on my Sizergh list I am starting to develop a keen interest in butterflies and scarce flora when times are quiet for birds in the summer months.