Team news for April 2012

  • Monday 30 April

    10:24 30 April 2012
    By Jo Day

    The Isle of Man visable on one of our Natterjack evenings

    Well April has been an incredibly busy month for us.  We've had regular patrols with the Police, with really positive results. A new interpretation panel has been erected in the car park with new safety and event signs. The NVC survey has also started and will hopefully be concluded the end of July so that we will have a map of the plant communities found on the reserve.  With the lack of rainfall on the reserve, we thought it might be a good idea to map the amount of water (or lack of it) in the slacks throughout the season.  This information can also be collated year on year to hopefully provided us with an overall picture of the hydrology of the site allowing us better management for the natterjack toads.

    Talking of which, we now have thousands of tiny tadpoles still in their comma stage.  The first hatching happened on the 20th April however they didn't become free swimming until the 25th.  Most of the tadpoles even now are mostly inactive and this is due to the cold weather.  The overall count of spawn strings to date is 241, but there is still time!

    
    Tiny commas, hatched on the 20th April
    Natterjack toads are sometimes called the "running toad" and the reason being is that they have short back legs compared with the common toad.  This enables them to chase after their food such as this amazing Dor beetle.  These beetles are great little fellas for clearing up after our grazing livestock by munching on their dung!
    Dor beetle
     Bugs are also a great source of food for the common lizard which also reside here on the reserve.  We have been seeing them dashing about since early April and this one managed to stay still long enough to take its picture...beautiful!
    Common lizard
     As well as our usual birds on site we also had a visit from this Bar headed goose which was far from it home in the Himalayas, but is thought to be an escapee from somewhere a little more local!
    
    Bar headed goose
    
    So to our collection of summer migrants of willow warblers, wheatears and blackcaps we can add the whitethroat on the 24th April.  We also had an enormous flock of 180 Sandwich terns take refuge on Hodbarrow Rerserve across the estuary from us on the same day.
  • Navigation training

    07:34 28 April 2012
    By Roy Henderson




    As part of a recent working holiday that was based at High Snab Farm , one of the things we did was have a navigation training session.  We used a walk up from High Snab and around the walk known as the Horseshoe Round as our training ground..





    On a nice sunny day when viewed from the valleys, our Lake District hills look very inviting and benign but the weather can change very quickly.  Sometimes within an hour or less, those enticing, sunny summits can become windy, rain-lashed and shrouded in low cloud.  That footpath that you could see stretching ahead of you is now lost to view and thick mist can be very disorientating.  The only safe way to deal with that situation is to have good navigation skills and equipment.  GPS has its uses but, like all technology, is not totally dependable.  Maps, compasses and the skills to use them can be life-savers e.g. maps show you where the unexpected crags are located.  So, I always give our working holiday groups the opportunity to learn or brush up and then practice map and compass work.





    The Keswick Mountain Festival is coming up on May 16-20 and I’ll be offering some free map and compass navigation sessions there.  So if any blog readers are at the festival, do come and find me – if I’m not doing a navigation session, I might be at the National Trust’s yurt on Crow Park.


    Sunny was with the working holiday group on our big mountain walk – he busied himself going around the group and satisfying himself that they stayed together!  He is really good at getting along with people.  He’ll soon be going home to his own family and I suspect even Reiver will miss him.
  • Once more unto the ... shore

    09:00 27 April 2012
    By John Atkinson, Nick Petrie, Paul Kear , Rob Clarke, Sarah Anderson


    Towards the end of last summer we started work with our volunteer groups putting a new path by the side of Windermere, through the field between Wray Castle and the Red Nab bridleway. This lovely walk has become increasingly popular with the opening of Wray Castle and the Windermere Reflections project promoting visits to this side of the lake. All these extra feet have caused the grass to become quite badly eroded, hence the need a for a path that’ll stand up to this level of use.
    
    Muddy volunteers, certainly not disappointed!
    It's a muddy job though, which isn't a problem (in fact lots of our volunteers are positively disappointed if they don't get a good covering) but does mean we couldn't carry on through the winter. It'd make too much of a mess and the grass wouldn't get a chance to recover, so we've had to wait before we could go back to it.

    However, with the onset of spring the waiting is over and we've been down there again with our first group - the Northumberland National Trust volunteers.
    
    Northumberland NT volunteers get us started for the year ahead.
    What we’re particularly proud of is the fact that most of the people who’ve worked with us as volunteers on this project have little or no experience of this kind of work and yet we’ve managed to produce a really high quality path. Many of our volunteers have commented on how proud they feel to have been involved with this and plenty have said they’re looking forward to bringing their families back to show them what they built. One of our volunteers, Ayesha, was working with us as part of her gold level Duke of Edinburgh award and said that she’d walked lots of paths whilst doing the award but had never realised how much work went into making them. She had just sort of assumed they were always there.
    
    Using the 'Whacka plate' to level it off.
    
    Quite a distance between gravel piles unfortunately ...
    So we'll back there through the summer with many different groups and if you happen to be walking past please feel welcome to stop for a chat about our work. You'll know it's us as we'll be the ones with the happy and (if they're lucky) muddy volunteers!

     By Rob Clarke, Basecamp Community Ranger
  • Sunny's holiday adventures.

    14:47 26 April 2012
    By Roy Henderson

    As Sunny is still 'on holiday' with me, I thought that the dog-loving readers of the blog might like to see pictures of some of the experiences he's had. 



    At first we were mindful of sheep and lambs until we could be confident that he understood that he should ignore them.


    It turned out that he was very obedient and he showed no signs of wanting to head off in their direction.  In fact he was remarkably obedient for an 8 month old who could easily have been over-excited by so many new people and experiences.



    Even the ATV didn't concern him and he was happy to spend some time on a lofty perch surveying a new patch.



    I don't know if he had tried swimming before but he certainly enjoyed it this time.  This was in the Elizabethan reservoir above High Snab Farm but I don't suppose that impressed him!

    Dogs are amazingly quick learners if we humans will only spend a little time teaching them.
  • Drain Run on The Band

    09:32 24 April 2012
    By Ade Mills, Leo Walmsley , Pete Entwistle

    After a hectic few months of working to get things ready in time for the opening of Allan Bank it's now time for us to focus a bit more on our upland footpath repair work.

    Over the last few weeks we have resumed our path maintenance schedule which involves us going out and clearing the footpaths and drains of rubble and checking for any future repair work. It's what we refer to as a "Drain Run" and it's basically a walk out on the high fells armed with shovels and brushes, clearing any rubble from the path.

     Drain Run on The Band

    It's an essential part of our job, as all our hard work of building the paths would soon be undone if they weren't properly maintained.

    By clearing the drains it means that they continue to flow smoothly, without any regular maintenance they are likely to overflow during heavy rain and cause damage further down the path.

    Loose stone, which has been knocked onto the pitching is also removed as it can act almost like marbles and can make walking on the path tricky. If it builds up too much people tend to walk off the path causing more damage to the vegetation next to the footpath, this can also exacerbate the problem.

     
    Clearing out a drain 

    So recently we've been out clearing the paths all over the Central and East fells at Red Screes, Yoke, Threshthwaite Cove, Gowbarrow, Megs Gill and The Band.

    Clearing the top section of The Band

    We've got a huge patch to cover but fortunately the Fix the Fells voluntary lengthsmen are also out on a regular basis helping us keep on top of things.

    As well as their other duties they also arrange regular drain runs where groups of volunteers go out and clear the paths. They then feed the information back to us, so we get a really good idea of the state of the paths in the area.

    View down The Band with Pike of Stickle in the distance
  • National Garden Scheme "Wordsworth Daffodil Legacy trail"

    11:44 21 April 2012
    By Ben Knipe, Dave Almond, Dave Jackson, James Archer, Neil Winder, Roland Wicksteed

    The 1st of April saw the National Trust open Dora's Field in Rydal in partnership with NGS. We had over 200 visitors come through the gates to enjoy the sea of Yellow daffodils and hear the history of this wonderful place.
    Every year NGS gardens across England and Wales welcome about 750,000 visitors. Most gardens which open for the NGS are privately owned and open just a few times each year. Some gardens open as part of a group with the whole community involved. The NGS donate to The National Trust which helps train the heritage gardeners of the future.
    Diane and David from the NGS
    Dave and Joyce our hard working Volunteers
    The day was a huge a success and we would love to do the same next year.
  • Lakeland bunnies.

    11:52 18 April 2012
    By Roy Henderson


    Well that’s the Easter holiday period over for another year and thankfully there were no fire problems to be dealt with.  The Trust organised a number of Easter Egg Trails across the Lake District during the Easter weekend.  Ours took place on the Monday around the lake shore, Friars Crag and Cockshot Wood area.  Although it was a bit drizzly, it didn’t dampen spirits too much and we had a good number of people come along in family groups. 


    All those who entered set forth with a trail sheet containing seven questions each with three options for answers.  Correct answers provided the letters for an anagram of BUNNIES.  That was the cue for the outbreak of bunny-hopping that you can see in the photograph above.   Successful completion of the sheet was rewarded with an Easter egg – and of course no child ‘failed’ to win an egg!  Regardless of the weather, several generations enjoyed the trail and some even came well-prepared to have an outdoor banquet at the picnic tables at the foreshore.



    Later in the week I had a newcomer join me for his first day at work.  Sunny is a friend’s dog and whilst they are on holiday for two weeks, Sunny is spending his time with us and is coming out to work with me.  He is an eight month old Labrador who still has a lot to learn but is a very fast, keen learner.  Reiver didn’t come with us because she is an elderly lady these days and is semi-retired from public duties.  She also needs some rest from Sunny occasionally!  




    We have been burning the brash and reinstating fences at High Snab where we have been hedge-laying these past few weeks.  High Snab’s farmer, Tom, is in the middle of lambing so the volunteers took turns to go in pairs to help with that.  Lambs seem to enchant everyone and I’ve never come across anyone who has not been keen to have some experience with them – feeding orphans is always popular!



    Sunny had a busy and exciting day with so many new people and experiences but he was flat out and soundly asleep as soon as he was home!
  • Elite Ranger hits National News

    09:14 17 April 2012
    By Andy Warner , Daniel Simpson, Geoff Medd, Jack Deane, Joe Cornforth, Mark Astley, Maurice Pankhurst, Paul Delaney


    The secret identity of Captain Skim can now be revealed... as Mark Astley, ranger for Buttermere & Ennerdale valleys.  As promised, here is an exclusive interview (oh, apart from the ones in the Sun, Telegraph, Mail, Express, Times, BBC Newsround, Look North, BBC Radio Cumbria, radio Merseyside etc.)
    So, Mark, why on earth are you called Captain Skim?
    Lots of rangers all over the country were nominated for a skill they had.  I've always included skimming stones in our events and family days, but I couldn't believe it when I was told that that I was going to become a super-hero called Captain Skim with the super power of stone-skimming, I thought "here comes the leg-pulling"...

    How did you become Captain Skim?
    I was chosen with four other people in the country to help the Trust promote its campaign of ‘50 Things To Do Before You’re 11¾’, and I had a right laugh.  The others were (l-r)Midas the Treasure Hunter, me, Tree-Man, Bug Hunter and Den Boy. I think I got the best name!

    What's the campaign about?
    The campaign is about getting children off the sofa and from behind the computer and into nature and allowing them to have the amazing experiences like the ones we had when we were children.
    When I was a child I spendt my whole time outdoors running around and getting messy.  But children today are so wrapped in cotton wool that they do not have the chance to enjoy the outdoors and the many adventures the natural world has to offer.
    The '50 Things To Do Before You’re 11¾' initiative is in response to a report commissioned by the National Trust which highlighted research that fewer than one in ten children regularly play in wild places compared to almost half a generation ago, a third have never climbed a tree and one in ten can't ride a bike.

    How do families get involved?
    They can download a voucher from the National Trust website for free entry to National Trust houses this weekend (21st-22nd April).  Also families can register on the 50 Things To Do website where you can tick off the list of 50 things to do as you complete them, and get rewards.
    Click here to go to the website:
    http://www.50things.org.uk/
  • New super-hero for West Cumbria

    10:05 16 April 2012
    By Andy Warner , Daniel Simpson, Geoff Medd, Jack Deane, Joe Cornforth, Mark Astley, Maurice Pankhurst, Paul Delaney

    We're feeling very honoured this week, because we have a new super-hero in our midst.  He was caught on video demonstrating his super-powers.  Bring on... Captain Skim! Captain Skim lives amongst us as a National Trust ranger. Can anyone help reveal his secret identity? We hope to have an interview with him here soon.
  • 50 Things to do before you're 11 3/4

    09:17 16 April 2012
    By Ade Mills, Leo Walmsley , Pete Entwistle

    The National Trust has just launched a campaign to try and encourage children to get outside and really enjoy the great outdoors. The new campaign is called "50 things to do before you're 11 3/4" and is a list of 50 fantastic ways to have fun outside.

     Getting close to nature

    Us Fell Rangers have done our fair share of balancing on fallen trees, damming streams, climbing huge hills and building dens. In fact all these things are often part of our job, and many of the rest of the things on the list we do in our spare time!

    So if you're after some great ideas of things to do with your kids whether it's in your own back garden or while you're away on holiday click on the link here to find out more...www.50things.org.uk

  • Monday 16 April

    08:14 16 April 2012
    By Jo Day

    Well the sun has been shining here at Sandscale (well in between the rain showers) and things have been hotting up for the amphibians. The common toads started laying in early march and as you can see from the photo below are developing quite well. With the weather conditions being what they are, they might even hatch after just 5 days of being laid. Toad spawn is unlike frog spawn and instead of being laid in clumps it is laid in double strings. The common toad spawn will stay as a double string, however the natterjack will spread out into a single string.

    The big star of the show are our Natterjacks, the reason for this is because they require such spoecific habitat that their numbers have been declining and we are one of the 60 sites it is found at. They are protected by British and European Law which means that both our rangers have to be licensed to manage them. The males started their chorus on the 24th which is the earliest it has ever been recorded and since then we have surveyed the scrapes to find about 170 strings of spawn.
    To experience the best of our Natterjacks, come to one of our guided walks starting from the car park at 7.30pm Fri 20th and 27th April 2012.





  • Lambing amost live Day 1

    16:01 13 April 2012
    By John Atkinson, Nick Petrie, Paul Kear , Rob Clarke, Sarah Anderson

    Hello everyone, I am currently on leave from work lambing my flock of Cheviot and Herdwick sheep on the hills above Coniston Water.Its a different sort of vacation to most of my colleagues or anyone else I suppose but as i have a farm as well as working for the National Trust its something i have done since i started and it is a great place to be so why go anywhere else. During the next couple of weeks i will be posting daily updates on what is happening on the farm at this time of year including a few photos of the sheep, cattle and local scenery.


    This photo is of a freshly born lamb, its mother had chosen a great place to give birth out of the wind and in the sun, the lamb is about 5 minutes old and is already up on its feet and looking for its first feed.

    Today has been nice with a few showers and hailstones but on the whole not a bad day but with a cold wind its best to get in the trees or behind a hill to find a snug place.

    I have also quite a lot of cattle on the farm and one of the cows is due soon so figures crossed i will be about at the right time. The last calf looks a bit like a buffalo and is quite a star getting his photo taken by many of the tourists  who see him in the woods.


    The sheep lamb up on the intake next to the fell and i gathered them in last week ready for lambing and they will stay in on the better ground for a month or so till the lambs are big enough to follow their mothers across the fell. I scanned the ewes in February and kept all the sheep due to have twins down near the farm house so they can be looked after better and given a bit of extra feed. The ones carrying singles much prefer to be on their natural habitat, there is the threat of predators but with just one lamb to look after they manage without any problems.

    Day old lamb with its mother





    I will post again tomorrow and will tell you a bit more about the farm and include some more photos, with about 20/30 lambs born each day i am sure there will be plenty to tell you about.

    John Atkinson Lead Ranger

    Want to read the rest? .....to read the whole of John's 'Lambing Almost Live' series of posts go to the 'Lambing Posts' tab at the top of the page. (We've moved all 14 days onto one page so you can read all the stories together.)
  • Bridge at Easedale and the Fulling Mill

    13:52 10 April 2012
    By Ade Mills, Leo Walmsley , Pete Entwistle

    Over the last week our job has been to build a bridge over Sourmilk Gill in Easedale to provide access for a team of archaeologists and volunteers to survey a Medieval Fulling Mill.

    The mill dates from at least the 13th Century and is the remains of the first Fulling Mill in the Parish of Grasmere. The ruins of the wheel pit and other structures are still visible when the bracken is down.

    Remains of the Fulling Mill

    Fulling was a process used to clean and felt wool which involved it being beaten by wooden hammers usually driven by a water wheel or walked on by people wearing heavy wooden clogs, hence the alternative name “Walk Mill” is sometimes used.

    This mill is first mentioned in 1283 when it was producing enough cloth to supply Grasmere, Langdale, Loughrigg, Rydal and half of Ambleside. By 1324 it was providing the Lord of the Manor Ingelram de Gynes with a substantial income. The tenant of the mill at the time was Rad de Grenerige (another fantastic Norse name!). At this time a sheep’s fleece was worth the equivalent of a working mans wages for a year and stealing a fleece was punishable by death. Wool was brought to the site from all over the Parish.

    In 1453 another mill was built in Langdale. This was either due to increased demand or because of the toll charged by the Township of Grasmere to the people of Langdale. You walk through this mill's remains as you exit the National Trust car park at Stickle Ghyll. The Wool trade flourished and at its peak in 1575 there were eighteen mills in the Parish.

    It is hoped that after the surveying eventually the mill will be excavated as finds from a Medieval structure such as this are few and far between.

    Rather than produce a temporary bridge, it was decided to build something more substantial that the tenant farmer could also use for access. In return he helped us out greatly by moving the beams down next to the beck. So next we had the job of moving the beams (each weighing roughly half a tonne) into position.

    The beams next to the beck

    We strapped both beams together and used our trusty winch, along with quite a lot of levering with crowbars, to move them into position to span the beck.

    Moving the beams into position

    Next it was time to get both beams level. On the lower side of the bridge we raised the beams onto a wooden frame to gain enough height above the water that the bridge would be clear when the beck is in full spate.

    Levelling the beams

    With the beams now level and joined together by threaded bars and wooden spacers, we built a stone revetment on the lower side of the bridge (next to the wooden frame). This revetment will act as a retaining wall for the river bank and also to support the bridge.

    Building the revetment

    After a couple of days we began attaching the treads and the uprights for the hand rails.

    Attaching the treads and uprights

    By the end of the fourth day we finished nailing on the final treads so that the bridge would be usable for the visiting archaeologists.

    Attaching the last few treads

    The next job was to connect the rails. We're still waiting on some more materials to finish it off properly, as we're one tread short and the hand rails for the top of the uprights have not been cut yet. But the bridge is now pretty much completed.

    The bridge after adding the rails

    Update: And here's a link to some videos about the Fulling Mill on ITV's Border News....click here
  • You can't make an omelette

    12:51 09 April 2012
    By Andy Warner , Daniel Simpson, Geoff Medd, Jack Deane, Joe Cornforth, Mark Astley, Maurice Pankhurst, Paul Delaney

    Without breaking some eggs


    And the walls came tumbling down
    ©Ennerdale & Kinniside School
    Thursday saw Rangers Dan and Paul and Volunteer Jim head off to Ennerdale School for the second phase of our garden restoration project, as mentioned before, our  Wordsworth House Gardener Amanda is designing the garden and it's new planting scheme and we're doing the hard landscaping. Today's task was to remove crumbling facing stone from the retaining walls to prepare for a more suitable sandstone arriving next week. Before long we had removed the flagstones from the wall top and set about stripping back the facing stone, alarmingly quite a lot of the retaining wall came with it so more repairs needed!! By mid morning we had made good progress and were rewarded with coffee and cake, Dan even had whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles in his coffee!!

    Yum Yum
    ©Ennerdale & Kinniside School

    We got back to it and by lunchtime were starting to barrow loads of stone into a waiting trailer it was a surprise how quickly the trailer was filled, lots more stone than we'd originally thought, but soon it was off the short distance where it will be used as backfill in repairs to a collapsed river bank and track.When we'd swept and tidied the playground the scale of next weeks task,refacing the walls, became apparent, hopefully a good turnout of volunteers and some nice weather will help us on our way, check back here and see how we're getting on, and if you're passing, pop in and say hello.

    A quick sweep up and we're ready for the next bit
    ©Ennerdale & Kinniside School



  • Outwitting sheep!

    08:18 07 April 2012
    By Roy Henderson


    Like much of the country we have been enjoying a spell of really good weather recently so we took full advantage of it to do a lot of outdoor work.


    The first big job for me and my volunteers was to join our forest ranger Maurice planting trees on the Raise Gill slopes of Watendlath valley.  The ground is pretty stony there so it took considerable effort to create holes for the planting.  The prolonged dry weather hasn’t helped either.  But, as you will have realised if you follow the blog, my volunteers are not easily discouraged.  Eventually there will be 2.5 thousand mixed hardwoods planted to re-wood an area and stabilise the slope.  You can see from the pictures just how many were planted and protected with tree-guards – sheep pay no heed to our efforts so we have to thwart them somehow!


    We now need some rain to give the trees a good start.  We have had some snow and rain but it is still so dry that we have to be vigilant about the potential fire hazard on the fells.  We hope all our visitors will be careful but we do have our fire-fighting kit ready.   A good downpour soon would dampen everything down to reduce the fire risk and would also be good for the growth of the vegetation. 




    Later in the week, I worked with a different group of volunteers litter-picking on the Derwentwater foreshore.  We cleared a large area on the isthmus (near Keswick) of a trailer of litter and also cleared a trailer of wood which we will use for a beacon.  To celebrate the Queen’s jubilee, we are planning to have a beacon on Catbells and another on Crow Park opposite Theatre by the Lake.  We were working with the usual foreshore volunteers and also with Keswick Army Cadets. 



    It was glorious weather and we were able to enjoy our lunch on Crow Park with views down Borrowdale and with Skiddaw at our backs.  What could be better?


  • 5 things to do this Easter in the South Lakes

    09:00 05 April 2012
    By John Atkinson, Nick Petrie, Paul Kear , Rob Clarke, Sarah Anderson

    To celebrate Easter we've put together one blog for both the houses and countryside teams with 5 suggestions for things you can do across our whole National Trust South Lakes patch this Easter ....

    1 Take a guided tour of Wray Castle
    Wray Castle bathed in Spring sunshine
    Open from 2nd April for another season we'll have regular guided tours of the Castle running throughout the day. House open from 10.30 every day of the week. If the weather's good you can enjoy the grounds with its great views of the lake and mountains and yellow daffodils out in time for Easter.
    visit our Wray Castle web pages (opens in a new window)

    2 Do the Children's Easter Egg trail at Hill Top or the Beatrix Potter Gallery. 
    Yummy chocolate eggs
    A quiz-based trail with an eggy-shaped chocolate prize at the end, entry is £1 and the proceeds help our conservation work here. The Trail is supported by Cadburys. You might spot some 'Easter bunnies' in Hill Top garden but don't tell Pete our gardener!You will definitely see bunnies at the Gallery as we celebrate Peter Rabbit's 110th birthday with our 2012 exhibition.
    visit our HT or our  BPG web pages (opens in a new window)

    3 Walk the quieter Western side of Lake Windermere
    Looking out on the lake from Claife Viewing Station
    You can arrive by boat from Ambleside and take a linear walk from Wray Castle to Ferry Landing (or vice versa if you arrive by boat from Bowness). Stop off to take a peak at Claife Viewing Station which is one of our Lake District Appeal fundraising priorities. We want  to build a new viewing platform inside the old ruined shell and help to recreate for today's visitors, the experience the early tourists had over 200 years ago.
    visit our Hawkshead & Claife web pages (opens in a new window)

    4 Enjoy a 'Herdy' or 'Beltie' burger at Tarn Hows
    A very local 'Herdy' burger ready to be enjoyed
    Food doesn't get much more local than this! The meat comes from our National Trust tenant farmer at Yew Tree Farm, and its beef and lamb are raised in and around the Tarn Hows estate. The van is in the Tarn Hows car park daily from 10.30 to 4.45 so once you've enjoyed a walk round the tarn you can give yourself a tasty picnic lunch with a freshly-cooked burger.
    visit our Coniston & Tarn Hows pages (opens in a new window)

    5 Cycle from Coniston to Little Langdale
    Enjoy a scenic route this Easter holiday
    Using stoney tracks, bridleways and minor roads, there are a choice of  routes to take, distance is around 15 km and there's a pub in Little Langdale to help revitalise you for the trip back! This being the Lake District you can't get away entirely without a hill but going and returning via Tilberthwaite it is possible to minimise the uphill sections; if you don't mind more of a hill, return by Hodge Close for a great free-wheeling ride down the valley.
    visit our Little Langdale web pages (opens in a new window)

    Happy Easter!

    post by Linda 
    photos | National Trust & Yew Tree Farm
  • Help needed

    04:14 02 April 2012
    By Roy Henderson

    This is a photograph I took recently.  Can anybody identify this cat?



  • Completion of the Woodland Walk at Allan Bank

    14:27 01 April 2012
    By Ade Mills, Leo Walmsley , Pete Entwistle

    Since our last update we've been continuing the path repair work at Allan Bank. With the house opening to the public for the first time on the 31st March, we've had a job to get everything finished in time!

    A lot of drainage work had been carried out over the years, but due to lack of continual maintenance it has fallen into disrepair. Much of the water entering Allan Bank comes through a gap in the wall at the top of the wood and is sent through a stone culvert underneath part of the path, and from there down to the walled garden. The culvert had collapsed and become blocked by stones and tree roots.

    Blocked culvert

    This meant that during heavy rain the culvert overflows and water is forced off-course so that it runs down the path, which has started to cause damage. It was therefore essential that we should make some improvements, so it was decided that the culvert should be taken apart and rebuilt.

    Repairing the culvert

    The first job was to remove the top stones to gain access to the drain. Next, the sides of the drain (which are like small sections of dry stone wall) were taken apart and replaced with more substantial stone. The culvert was also widened so that it would be able to cope with heavier downpours. Once any interfering roots had been removed, the top stones were placed back in position and wedged tight.

    The finished culvert
    
    Since the last blog post we have completed the restoration of a further four sections of stone steps. The steps in the photo below had become unstable and the ground had eroded beneath them, meaning they were on the verge of falling out
    
    Old steps in need of repair

    The original steps were completely stripped down and then cemented together to add extra strength. An additional step was also added.
    
    The restored steps

    To help gain height up to the steps, five wooden risers were constructed just below the new bottom step. It's hoped that eventually the risers will be removed and replaced with more stone steps which would be more in keeping. But due to our tight time scale and lack of materials, wooden risers were the only option.
    
    Steps with the added risers

    We have also continued to improve the quality of the path surface. The path below was a particularly steep section with bedrock and large boulders just below the surface. If this had been left unattended it's likely that the path would have eroded away to the rock below making it extremely difficult to walk on.

    Steep section of path before commencing work

    A series of wooden risers were built to make it easier walking down this steep slope and also to prevent the soil from eroding.
    
    Section of path with new risers in place

    The Fix the Fells volunteers once again helped us move the wooden edging into position next to the risers.

    Moving the edging into position

    With the edging now securely staked into position it was time to gravel the path.

    Gravelling and edging the risers

    With only hours left before opening time, we finished off the final bits of gravelling and edging. Our last job was to walk the path and put in marker posts to direct people around the new trail.

    So if you get the chance to visit Allan Bank, we'd love to know what you think. Either post a comment below, or if you're on Twitter, tweet us a message @NTCentralFells.