Team news for June 2017

  • Starting the path at Hole in the Wall and the Fix the Fells 10th anniversary work party

    09:33 26 June 2017
    By Ade Mills, Leo Walmsley , Pete Entwistle

    Since our last blog post we've spent much of our time working in Ullswater on the path just below Hole in the Wall. Building a stone path is never fast work and we reckon to build around 1 metre of path per person, per day. This generally depends on what the digging is like, the weather conditions and the amount of people using the path.

     Bottom section before starting work on the path

    The digging has, so far, been pretty good, we're not pulling too many large stones out of the ground and there's been no sign of any bedrock (which often has to be chipped out before we can lay the path). We've had both really hot and really wet weather over the last few weeks but only for a few days here and there, so nothing really out of the norm. We've also had one or two really busy days, but the worksite is easy to keep safe and there is plenty of room for people to get past. So, apart from a little extra time spent explaining about our work, it hasn't really affected things too much either.

     After a few days work

    As this path does get really busy at times (we're expecting lots more walkers during the summer holidays if we get some good weather) we're building the path a little wider than normal. Because of the extra width, we're maybe averaging a little under a metre a day at present.

     The path starting to take shape

    After just over a month, we're now reaching the point where we're starting to join sections of the path together before we leap-frog each other and start work again further up the path.
    Almost ready to join two sections

    With the sections joined, it's time to start filling in all the gaps with some of the soil that's been dug out. There's still plenty of landscaping work to do on this section but it's really starting to look like a footpath now.

    After filling in the gaps

    Last weekend was the tenth anniversary of the Fix the Fells partnership. As part of the celebrations, there were work parties taking place throughout the weekend up on Tongue Gill, near Grasmere. The work was part of a project that the South Lakes upland rangers are working on, and we went to help out on the Friday. Around sixty volunteers and various people from the Fix the Fells partnership organisations turned out to repair the path that had been damaged during the Storm Desmond floods. Although the weather wasn't the best we still got plenty done and everyone appeared to enjoy the day.

    Volunteers at work in the rain
  • Bracken bashing at Hartsop

    14:14 08 June 2017
    By Ben Knipe, Dave Almond, Dave Jackson, James Archer, Neil Winder, Roland Wicksteed

    Back in 2014, a 'National Tree Planting Week' took place between November 29th to December 7th. See Link to post for more information... Ullswater tree Planting week: 


    To celebrate this event, the National Trust rangers and volunteers in Ullswater planted native trees and shrubs on a steep bracken covered slope overlooking the village of Hartsop and Brothers Water near the foot of  Kirkstone Pass.
    This image is of two volunteers placing a tree tube over a newly planted tree. Over thirteen hundred trees and shrubs were planted on this slope over the week back in 2014!
    Note the vast quantities of dead bracken; this indicates there is a massive rhizome/root system ready to send up many thousands of fresh bracken fronds in Spring. By Summer they can easily exceed five feet in height! 
    'BEFORE'
    Newly planted trees need lots of 'TLC'...for instance...

    Every year in late May or early June the fast growing bracken needs to be knocked back from around the young trees. Rangers with great support from volunteer groups undertake this task; if left to grow the bracken will stifle the trees, and rob them of light and valuable nutrients. See above Image.
    'DURING'
    The most effective method seems to be to bend bracken stems over by bashing them with wooden poles; this weakens the bracken's growth for the following year. 
    'AFTER'
    The bracken has been bashed back in a wide circle around the tree to give it the best chance of putting on a good growth spurt.
    One of the planted oaks in its protective tree tube.
    Another before...
    ...and after image.
    Some prefer the use of "bracken slashers" to wooden poles; an encouraging sign is that natural re-gen is taking place as shown by this oak sapling!
    Overlooking Hartsop before and...
    ...after a large area of bracken has been cleared. Bracken clearance around the trees should ideally take place twice a year between early and late Summer. Over the course of three to five years of control  work the bracken will become increasingly weak; the hope is that with the appropriate care and attention the trees will, in a relatively short time, have grown big enough to out compete the bracken.  
  • Walling on Kirkstone

    06:30 01 June 2017
    By Ben Knipe, Dave Almond, Dave Jackson, James Archer, Neil Winder, Roland Wicksteed


    Kirkstone pass is the Lake Districts highest pass that is open to motor vehicles. It connects Ambleside in the Rothay Valley, to Patterdale in the Ullswater Valley. It stands at an altitude of 1,489ft (454m).

     



     

    The Pass can experience all sorts of weather. From blazing sunshine in the summer, to torrential rain in the autumn and heavy snow in the winter.

     



     

    Because of these extreme weather conditions the road can be very unpredictable. Throughout the year many accidents happen, some genuine mistakes, but sometimes it is because people don’t give the Pass the respect it deserves.

     



     

    The National Trust try to maintain roadside walls where possible, so every couple of years a team of Rangers from the Central and East Lakes ‘try’ and pick a sunny week to repair the numerous gaps that have appeared.

     



    This time we managed to pick the warmest week of the year. With the wall gaps identified and the ‘Stop’ ‘Go’ boards in place we could make a start.

     



     

    After a long, hot, sweaty week we managed to get a lot of the wall gaps repaired.

     




     

    So if you ever find yourself on Kirkstone Pass please take care and remember it’s not a race to get to the top, or bottom.