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Meet Selena the sheepdog and the woolly conservators of Hatfield Forest this June




Coot and chicks (11300861)
Coot and chicks (11300861)

As summer beckons, the team at Hatfield Forest are hoping visitors will flock to the medieval hunting ground to see flora and fauna including the rare breed sheep who act as "woolly conservators" and sheepdog Selena. Here Helen Hooker and Elizabeth Reeve, from the visitor welcome team, describe the delights of June in the woodland.

Selena and the Hatfield Forest sheep (11300852)
Selena and the Hatfield Forest sheep (11300852)

Early summer at Hatfield Forest - a time when nature flourishes, as young birds and animals tentatively head towards independence. This is the perfect time to visit and enjoy the forest in all its glory.

Have you met our flock of sheep - our woolly conservators? Livestock have grazed at Hatfield Forest since medieval times and today our flock of conservation sheep continue this tradition. They help us clear areas of scrub we are restoring to wood pasture. We have 24 sheep, all hardy and rare breeds - 11 Manx, nine Hebrideans, two Jacobs and one each of white faced woodland and Wiltshire horn. Many were bred at the National Trust site at Orford Ness in Suffolk.

With digestive systems similar to a goat, the flock eats scrubby and coarse plant growth. Sheep are lighter on their feet than cattle, so will often graze wetter land, such as the marsh, at the top end of the lake, and Old Woman's Weaver.

Sheep can easily be stressed, so please ensure dogs are kept on leads and out of fenced off areas. This is particularly important as sheep can tell when a dog is not on a lead and this will worry them.

Of course, we have our own sheepdog, a Welsh collie called Selena. She is two-and-a-half years old and has worked at the forest since early 2018. Born in Wales, she comes from St Davids in Pembrokeshire and a donation from the Chelmsford Supporters' Group enabled us to buy her.

Selena the sheepdog (11300850)
Selena the sheepdog (11300850)

She works with our shepherd Ian Pease and can often be seen travelling through the forest in the back of his pick-up truck. Like many Welsh Collies, Selena has different coloured eyes - one blue, one brown.

An ancient Native American legend tells us that dogs with different coloured eyes have "ghost eyes" so they can see heaven with the blue eye and earth with the brown one at the same time.

Connecting with nature is all part of the adventure at Hatfield Forest. This summer explore this historic landscape, filled with ancient trees and home to wildlife, great and small. Why not have a go at some of the activities on our list of '50 things to do before you're 11¾' - get to know a tree, build a den or look for birds, butterflies and bees.

A favourite of ours is to picnic in the wild. Bring lots of tasty food and find a beautiful place to eat or, even better, have it in your den!

The forest is an atmospheric backdrop to a string of events this summer. We are welcoming three theatre groups bringing exciting new productions of such classics as William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. For more information and to book tickets, please visit

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hatfield-forest.

Den building (11302045)
Den building (11302045)

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