How did this job come about?
I have previous experience of making a maze of corn at another local animal park. When Old Down set itself the bold challenge of making the biggest maze in the UK I knew I wanted to be involved. I started in May 2017 to make this dream a reality!
How do you set about making a maze exactly?
The first step was to undertake a lot of research. I was sent to mazes across the UK, and undertook research on the internet which helped me sketch out several potential designs on paper. Important factors in the design were that it be the biggest in the UK, available all year round, and fully accessible to wheelchairs and pushchairs. For this reason, the wide paths will be laid with Cotswold stone, which not only looks beautiful, but ensure a smooth journey.
When the final design was chosen I then set about marking out the paths and walls in the field. To test out the design several colleagues were sent to explore, and thankfully they all made it to the centre!
I am currently working on the paths with diggers and dumpers. By the time I’ve finished about 1,500 tonnes of earth will have been taken out and redistributed around the Estate.
Can you give us a sneak peak of what’s in store?
I can’t tell you the quickest route! But I can tell you that over 10,000 ever-green shrub plants will form the walls. The centre will be 15 metres squared with a special feature to make people want to visit again and again. We aim to have the maze open to the public in 2019 – watch this space!
When you’re not working on the maze what else do you get up to?
A typical day involves making sure the grounds are looking their best. This requires trimming the grass and hedges, fixing fences and maintenance in the Manor House, which we usually undertake in the winter. Recently the team renovated the Dove boxes, which are stood proudly at the entrance to the café. We hope some doves move in soon. No two days are the same, which is something I really enjoy about working at Old Down – that and the endless possibilities, of which the Maze is just one!