Latest news from Leo Walmsley

  • Making progress at Hole in the Wall

    07:37 31 October 2017
    By Ade Mills, Leo Walmsley , Pete Entwistle

    Just a quick post with a few before and after shots of the path repairs at Hole in the Wall in Ullswater. We've been working on the path for around six months now so it's still very early days for the development of vegetation in the landscaped areas but it gives a good indication on how things are taking shape.

    The following two photos are of the lowest section of path, that we completed first, so it's had the longest time to "green-up".

     Lower Section (before)

    Lower section (after)

    As we progress higher up the hill the work has been more recently completed so this is reflected in the development of the grass.You can see in the following two photos how we wind the path through the eroded area, this reduces the gradient and also helps the path appear more natural, much like the difference between a canal and a meandering river.

     Middle section (before)

     Middle section (after)

    The final pair of photographs show a section of path towards the top. We've completed more work above it but the grass seed has only just started germinating.

      Upper section (before)

      Upper section (after)

    We'll be back working on the path next year so we'll put more grass seed down on any bare areas and, if required, revisit the path in future years to put extra seed down. We'll then let nature do it's thing and allow any wild seeds from the surrounding vegetation take hold and eventually we'll be left with a much narrowed and sustainable footpath winding it's way through the heather and bilberry up to the Hole in the Wall.
  • An update from Hole in the Wall

    06:29 27 September 2017
    By Ade Mills, Leo Walmsley , Pete Entwistle

    Over the last month we've been continuing our work over in Ullswater, on the footpath leading up to Hole in the Wall.

    Building a stone footpath is slow work which is dependent on a wide range of variables such as; how hard the digging is, how busy the path is, the quality of rock, and the width of the path.

    The following two photographs show roughly two months progress. In that time three of the team have worked on this section and roughly 30 metres of path have been pieced together.

    Middle section, 21st June

    Middle section, 16th August

    Once a section of path is completed, it's time to landscape the path. The following two photos show the same bit of path before and after landscaping. The bank of spoil to the left has been levelled out, after removing any turf that would be covered over in the process, and this has been used to edge the path. Surplus stone has been dug into the ground around the path to give it a more natural look, and finally grass seed has been scattered over the whole area.

    Middle section before landscaping

     Middle section after landscaping

    A section of landscaped path, further up from the previous photos can be seen below.

    Freshly landscaped section of path

    As we've moved higher up the path the digging has become more challenging. The path has become littered with large boulders and sections of bedrock which all has to be removed before the new stone footpath can be built. Occasionally a boulder may be too large to move, or the bedrock too hard to break and in those instances it can usually, with experience, be worked around.

    Working in ground like this is obviously more challenging and tends to slow down progress, in addition more rock and less soil is excavated which creates more difficulties with landscaping.

     Removing a sizeable chunk of bedrock from the path

    We’ve now completed just over half of the path repairs up at Hole in the Wall so we’ll be working through until late autumn and returning to finish things off in spring next year.
  • Continuing our work at Hole in the Wall

    16:57 12 August 2017
    By Ade Mills, Leo Walmsley , Pete Entwistle

    Since last posting here, we've spent much of our time working on the Hole in the Wall project over in Ullswater.

    We've been making decent progress and the lower section of path is now really starting to take shape.

    The following photographs give an idea of how the path is developing. You can see how much narrower the new stone path is compared to the wide eroded path and how we've snaked the path to make it more pleasing on the eye and also to remove some of the gradient.

    Bottom of path (before starting work)

    Bottom of path (after landscaping)

    The next two photos show how we've used the spoil that was generated to landscape the path. While building the path, the soil that was dug out was mounded on the left hand side of the footpath. Once the stone work was completed, we removed the turf on the right hand side of the path and shifted the majority of the soil to where the turf had been. This gave us plenty of earth for reprofiling the right hand side of the path. We created humps and dips to make the area less attractive to walk on, which should help guide people onto the stone path rather than cutting the corner. The turf that was removed was used to edge the path to prevent soil falling back onto the stone pitching. We then reseeded the whole area so it should start blending in nicely in a few weeks time.

    Lower section (after finishing, before landscaping)

    Lower section (after landscaping)

    In between working on the path below Hole in the Wall we've also been running regular volunteer work parties on a section of path lower down the valley with the Fix the Fells volunteers. We've been concentrating on drain building, landscaping and adding a few short sections of pitching. The path is now starting to look much more defined and should better handle any heavy downpours.

    Fix the Fells volunteers hard at work
  • 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
  • Helicopter lifts and starting work at Hole in the Wall

    12:27 15 May 2017
    By Ade Mills, Leo Walmsley , Pete Entwistle

    With just a few days left to spare before the helicopter lifts, we managed to fill the last of the 325 heli-bags with stone that we need for this years upland path repairs. This gave us enough time to put out the warning signs and make sure we were fully prepared.

    The first lift, over in Ullswater, was the larger of the two jobs. The bags were flown straight across Grisedale valley to the path leading up to Hole in the Wall. Although the weather conditions were tricky due to the constantly changing wind direction, we managed to get all 260 bags over to the work site in three days.

     Moving the stone to site

    The next week we started work on the path. The first job was to unload just over half of the bags and move the stones a few metres down the path to exactly where the path would start.

    Moving the rock into position

    After a couple of days we had the bags emptied and the stone where we wanted it.

    The emptied bags

    With the bags emptied it was time to start building the path. We've recently been joined by a new team member, Jonny, who previously worked for the National Trust in North Yorkshire. Since he's never done stone pitching before, Pete gave him some one on one tuition for a couple of days to help bring him up to speed. After being taught the basics of what to do, it'll be just a matter of lots (and lots...) of practice and the rest of the team being on hand for when any help or advice is needed.

    Jonny starting to get to grips with stone pitching

    After a few days of working up at Hole in the Wall, it was time to get the rock moved for the path repairs on Stone Arthur. With perfect weather conditions we managed to get all 65 bags moved to position in less than five hours. We'll be starting the repair work on Stone Arthur late summer/early autumn time.

    Moving the bags on Stone Arthur
  • Getting ready for for the helicopter lifts

    10:57 07 April 2017
    By Ade Mills, Leo Walmsley , Pete Entwistle

    It's that time of year again when we start getting ready for another season of repairing upland footpaths.

    This year we're working on two paths that were damaged during the Storm Desmond floods in 2015. The larger of the two projects is at Hole in the Wall overlooking Grisedale valley, for this job we've been filling 260 bags with rock that we'll use for stone pitching and drainage work. The rock has been gathered on the opposite side of the valley and will be flown by helicopter to site.

    Bagging rock in Grisedale

    Our second job is on the path leading up to Stone Arthur, just outside Grasmere. This will require an additional 65 bags of stone that will be gathered around Greenhead Gill.

    The helicopter lifts are due to take place at Hole in the Wall on 26th and 27th April and at Stone Arthur on 28th April, but there's a chance this will change particularly if the weather isn't suitable for flying. The paths will remain open during the heli-lifts but there is a possibility of delays, if you're in the area please take advice from the onsite marshals.
  • Building a stone ford at Low Hag Wood

    11:26 08 March 2017
    By Ade Mills, Leo Walmsley , Pete Entwistle

    Since the start of the new year we've spent much of our time carrying out flood prevention work at Low Hag Wood, Windermere. Low Hag Wood originally formed part of the gardens at St. Catherine's Estate. You can read more about the history of St. Catherine's here... Link

    We have been making path improvements to help manage any flooding of Wynlass Beck such as that which occurred during Storm Desmond in 2015. During the storm there was so much water in the beck that it caused a large pipe, designed to take the beck under the path, to back up. The water was then pushed down the path and damaged fields, properties and the track-ways below.

    The pipe before starting work

    To prevent this occurring again it was decided that we'd build a stone ford that would take any excess flood water over the top of the pipe and back into the beck.

    The first job was to select suitable rock from the surrounding woodland and collect it in our power barrow.

    Unloading the first barrow load

    Once we'd gathered enough rock to keep us going we began to construct the stone ford.

    Ready to start the job

    We used large rocks raised out of the ground to create the edge of the ford, using large stone meant there would be plenty of height difference between the the top of the ford and the pipe.

    Checking the levels

    After a few weeks we had gathered enough rock, and put them into position, to create the frame for our stone ford.

     The completed frame

    With all the edging stones in place we started to fill in the sections leading out from the pipe. These were built at an incline to help prevent water flowing out and over the top of the ford.

     Building the middle section of the ford

    Once the stones had been laid for the middle section the next job was to cover over the pipe. As this would take the full force of the water, and we'd had to use smaller stone to keep the extra height above the top of the pipe as low as possible, we used cement to prevent the stonework being damaged.

     Pipe before starting the stonework

    The stone was built in courses following the line of the pipe,

    Close-up of the concealed pipe

    Once all the stonework was completed we filled all the gaps with soil to help everything blend in a little better.

     The finished pipe section

    With the top of the ford being about knee-height above the original ground level we needed to form a ramp up to this new height. We again collected some large stones to form the edge of the ramp and started to fill in the ramp with surplus rock.

    The first side completed

    With both edges complete we covered over the rock with soil that we'd dug out during the work as it had a high proportion of gravel which compacted well to form a good surface.

    The finished section of path
  • We're Recruiting!

    08:44 02 February 2017
    By Ade Mills, Leo Walmsley , Pete Entwistle


    If you've ever fancied the Lake District fells as your office here's your chance to live the dream... *

    We are currently recruiting for a fixed-term, until 1st April 2019, Assistant Ranger (Uplands) here with us in the Central Lakes.

    Click here https://careers.nationaltrust.org.uk for further details and to apply.

    *Note: Good weather can not be guaranteed.
  • Fixing the landslide at Seldom Seen

    11:48 30 November 2016
    By Ade Mills, Leo Walmsley , Pete Entwistle

    As part of our work on the path at Seldom Seen we have also recently repaired a substantial landslide, around ten metres in length, which was washed away during heavy rain.

     Landslide from below

    The first part of the job was to build the path up to it's original height. Using large stones (the same as we use for path building) a dry stone wall was built and the area behind the wall was filled in with material excavated from elsewhere on the path.

     Building up the revetment wall

    The top side of the path had also been badly eroded by walkers trying to find a new route around the landslip. This area was re-profiled and a trench dug into the bank to take water away from the revetment wall and send it through stone drains at either side.

     View of the landslide from the path

    Once the revetment wall was completed and back-filled we covered the path surface with pinnel. Pinnel is a type of gravelly soil that compacts down very well to form a hard surface. This was dug out from around the washout and from the path above. It's very labour intensive to dig but gave the path a really nice solid finish.

     Repaired path showing the drainage

    Finally the top of the wall was turfed and landscaped to discourage people from walking on the edge and potentially causing damage.

     Landslide from a slightly different angle

    The new section of path has made a huge difference and will help prevent the area becoming further eroded by people trying to pick a route around it.

     Repaired section of path

    Beyond the landslide a stone path was built incorporating stone drains to prevent water running down on to the area that had been washed out.

    Footpath beyond the landslide
  • Continuing our work at Seldom Seen

    10:56 08 September 2016
    By Ade Mills, Leo Walmsley , Pete Entwistle

    Since our last blog post much of our time has been spent continuing the repair work on the path above the former mine workers cottages at Seldom Seen.

    The photograph below shows a section of path that has started to erode quite badly. An old stone drain is at the bottom to allow a small beck to run across the path, but as the stone on the path above is very mobile this fills quickly with rubble. To stop further erosion and prevent the drain blocking up we decided that the best option was to pitch the whole section.

     Bags ready in place to start work

    The stone drain was replaced and a new path was built.

     Repaired section of path

    Directly above this section the path had really gullied out, you can see in the next picture just how high the bank has been cut away once the new path had been built.

     Path repaired before landscaping

    One of the most important aspects of our job is trying to blend a new path in with the surrounding landscape. The following photo shows the same section of path once the bank has been graded. A large quantity of soil had to be removed (which was used for landscaping elsewhere) to create a more natural bank this was then turfed and seeded to help stabilise the bank and also speed up the vegetating process.

    Newly landscaped path

    The next section that we worked on had suffered a serious landslide which can be seen in the following photographs.

    Starting work on another section

    The new path includes much better drainage to help reduce the volume of water flowing down the path which should help reduce the chance of another washout.

    Completed path

    To help prevent the soil in the bank falling back onto the path when it rains the side of the path has been edged with large boulders which will be continued along this full section. We'll also spot turf the area and put down plenty of grass seed to try and stabilise it all.
    Close-up of the landscaping on the bank