A Report on the 2018 Arlington Bluebell Walk & Farm Trails
I am delighted to announce that this year marks another milestone. We have now raised over one million pounds since the Bluebell Walk started in 1972. Thanks to our visitors, an overall total of £1,057,096 has been raised for the 73 local charities involved in helping to run the event over the years!
This is even more notable as this year the weather badly affected attendance, especially for the first two weeks when it was dull, dank, cold, and wet on many days thanks to the ‘Beast from the East’. So there were virtually no bluebells in the early days of opening, but we did have a stunning display of white wood anemones, the best for many years.
The car park was closed for several days to protect the surface but with few visitors during that time the road verge easily accommodated their cars.
The weather thankfully changed on 19th April when we had the warmest April day since 1949, which quickly brought forth the bluebells and visitors! But there was more calamity to come - on Monday 30th April it rained all day, which meant that Cruse Bereavement Care only had 8 visitors. Still, this is not the worst we have seen as many years back I remember it snowed hard on the day we opened and we only had 6 visitors! It proves again that having a successful year is totally reliant on the weather. A few days after all that rain this year, Arlington Village and St Pancras Church had 3 gloriously hot days over the Bank Holiday, raising £9,714.
We were proud that last year the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) thought that the Bluebell Walk was unique and warranted two prestigious prizes, presented to us at a memorable evening in Petworth House. I hope we will have similar success this year with other competitions we are entering. I will reveal the details if we are successful! I am also pleased to say that we have just been awarded a Certificate of Excellence by TripAdviser due to the great reviews that visitors have posted. We did receive a similar Certificate in 2015, but then bizarrely found our page had been removed with no notice, apparently due to their head office realizing we are only open for 5 weeks each year when their criteria is that attractions must be open for at least 6 months a year. It will be interesting to see if they act in this inconsistent way again!
We must not forget that the Farm Trail elements play an important part in attracting families in particular to visit. This is possible entirely due to the generosity of the Appleton Family and their staff. We should like to thank them for tolerating the inevitable disruption from having hordes of visitors whilst trying to carry on with their day to day farming activities, which this spring has been difficult.
The annual Bluebell Walk and Farm Trail could not happen without the involvement of the charities (23 this year) so to them and their hardworking dedicated volunteers a special thank you, especially to those where the weather was not on their side, such that the amount they could add to their funds was far lower than expected. Next year their fortunes here may change.
Thanks to those persons who help us in their various vital ways, by boosting our presence on the vitally important social media platforms, by ensuring all goes smoothly at Bates Green, so our visitors have such a great day out that they recommend us to their friends visit and plan to come back next year.
Our planning for next year starts immediately, and is an on-going process until we open next spring! We must ensure that Beatons Wood is kept in tip top form to encourage the profusion of white wood anemones followed by the English bluebells, also implementing minor changes that will enhance the experience for all those who will visit us in 2019.
John McCutchan on behalf of the Bluebell Walk Partnership
This message was added on Thursday 31st May 2018
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