Latest news from Neil Winder

  • A Tribute to Volunteers 2017

    08:00 13 December 2017
    By Ben Knipe, Dave Almond, Dave Jackson, James Archer, Neil Winder, Roland Wicksteed

    Examples of the invaluable work of volunteers ...in and around the Windermere area.


     
    Working Holiday Group

    Lake-shore revetment work Cockshott, Windermere.

    Windermere School working at St. Catherine's.

    Thinning out ash and disturbing the ground to encourage growth of Touch-Me-Not Balsam in Spring..
    ..and collecting leaves for adding to the walled garden compost bins.

    Cumbria National Trust Volunteers.

    Tidying up the area in and around High Lickbarrow Farm

    and taking down an old redundant fence.

    First year Forestry students, University of Cumbria

    working on a double fence line to protect a soon to be planted hedge at High Lickbarrow...

    ...under somewhat challenging conditions!

    Stuart, long term volunteer, at St. Catherine's

    constructing a 'hedgehog house' from scrap wood.
  • Stuart...Recycling Superstar!

    13:34 06 December 2017
    By Ben Knipe, Dave Almond, Dave Jackson, James Archer, Neil Winder, Roland Wicksteed

    Stuart, long term gardening volunteer at The Footprint, has become an inspiring member of the Windermere team here at St. Catherine's.

    Stuart always has an eye on recycling so we find all sorts of useful and interesting objects refashioned from old gates and pallets. Above, he is completing his latest creation...a beautiful eco-home for hedgehogs.

    This old gate is tanalised and therefore unsuitable for firewood but rather than skip it Stuart has repaired the walled garden shed with some of the timber and made some trellis fencing with the rest.

    Stuart brought this Jasmine in from his own garden at home; here it is in the planter that he made from scrap wood with the trellis fencing behind.

    These images show planters created by Stuart for herbs and flowers which are offered for sale outside the Footprint in the Summer; donations go towards "The Walled Garden Project". 
  • Wet! Wet! Wet!

    16:51 27 November 2017
    By Ben Knipe, Dave Almond, Dave Jackson, James Archer, Neil Winder, Roland Wicksteed



    The recent heavy rainfall made Stock Ghyll Force near Ambleside look particularly impressive.



    However the volume of water has caused many problems. For instance, the little clapper bridge over Wynlass Beck at Millerground  became choked with debris.



    The bridge was giving a good impression of being a weir.


    Finally the debris was cleared away and the water could flow freely under the bridge once again.



    Nothing to do with the above post, but I went to the Lakeland wildlife Oasis at the weekend and took this image of one of the magnificent snow leopards!


  • 'Til the cows come home.

    15:30 15 October 2017
    By Ben Knipe, Dave Almond, Dave Jackson, James Archer, Neil Winder, Roland Wicksteed

    The National Trust Scout Beck herd of the rare Albion breed were brought in today, Sunday 15th, from their grazing land to High Lickbarrow Farm. From here they were transported to their Winter quarters. Along with the cows there were 17 calves born earlier this year in May.


    The remnants of Hurricane Ophelia are due to hit on Monday 16th so the timing was just about perfect!

    Six helpers including 3 National Trust staff herded the cattle along a kilometre route to the farm. It all went pretty smoothly with only the occasional break away attempt.


    In this image the cattle are approaching the entrance to High Lickbarrow in orderly procession.


    These "first" heifers (about  18 months old) were brought in a week earlier from their grazing allotment at Moor How, near Newby Bridge.


    An image of one of the 18 month old heifers at Moor How with a glimpse of Windermere and Grizedale Forest in the background....


    ...and here she is at High Lickbarrow on her birthday in May 2016! Just a few hours old!

    The herd will return to their 'home' at High Lickbarrow in May ready for a new season. Some animals have been sold to farms in Cornwall and Derbyshire which will contribute to improving the bloodline, and increase the numbers of this rare breed.

    To find out more about the Albion breed...The Albion Cattle Society have a website that is very informative. 

    "....dedicated to raising public awareness of this dying breed and help save it from extinction".

  • Red Squirrel walk at Aira Force

    10:39 02 October 2017
    By Ben Knipe, Dave Almond, Dave Jackson, James Archer, Neil Winder, Roland Wicksteed


    On Wednesday 27’Th of September a trial Red Squirrel walk and talk was held at Aira Force.

     

    The event was held in partnership between the National Trust, Ullswater Steamers and Penrith and District Red Squirrel Group (PDRSG)

     

    43 eager and excited years 1&2 children from Stainton Primary school arrived at Aira Force, where they were treated to an interesting and informative talk by Andrew and Julie from the PDRSG.

     



     

    Once the children’s brains had been filled with all sorts of exciting squirrel facts they where taken on a tour of Aira Force by the National Trust Rangers, in hope of seeing one of our little fury friends.

     



     

    We looked high we looked low but sadly we did not see one. We believe we have about 6 pairs in Aira Force, unfortunately they didn’t want to come and play that sunny Wednesday morning. The best time to catch a sighting of red is often at dusk or dawn when it is quieter and there are less people around.

     

    All the children had fun though filling in there Red Squirrel trails as they walked around the path ways of Aira Force.

     






     

    Once we had completed the tour, the children where then treated to a ride on the Ullswater Steamer from Aira Force to Glenridding, where they were each given a goody bag packed full of Red Squirrel memorabilia.

    these talks will hopefully become a more regular event next year.

     

      
  • Bridge Over Troubled Waters....

    14:51 21 September 2017
    By Ben Knipe, Dave Almond, Dave Jackson, James Archer, Neil Winder, Roland Wicksteed


    The low stone wall on the bridge to St. Catherine's...over Wynlass Beck...was regularly clipped by vehicles and required frequent repairs. 


    We had some 'sleepers' left over after constructing raised beds at St. Catherine's.


    These sleepers were cut to shape and used to replace the vulnerable stone work and after several months are still in place and undamaged.

    Mission accomplished!
  • St. Catherine's 'Moth Night'/Caterpillar Survey.

    15:30 14 September 2017
    By Ben Knipe, Dave Almond, Dave Jackson, James Archer, Neil Winder, Roland Wicksteed

    A 'Moth Night' was held at St. Catherine's in late July. Among other species the rare netted carpet Moth was seen.


    An excellent image of the moth seen on its food plant... Touch-Me-Not Balsam....courtesy of Guy Broome.


    The moth lays its eggs, during its life span, on the underside of the plants' leaves in July and August.   


    Above is an image of the caterpillar during the annual survey that takes place in late August or early September. This caterpillar is probably fully grown and ready to pupate soon.



    In this instance the caterpillar is forming a triangle between the plant stem and leaf. The caterpillars invariably face 'down hill'... particularly when at rest.


    An image of a smaller caterpillar. The caterpillars out-grow and shed their skin 5 times...called instars...before they reach full size.


    The above image shows a caterpillar feeding on a Touch-Me-Not seed pod...the most nutritious part of its food plant.



    Note how well camouflaged the caterpillars are, making it difficult for predators and surveyors alike to spot them!

    Up to 50 caterpillars per 100 plants were recorded in some areas whereas in less densely populated areas only 1 or 2 were found per 100 plants.

    For more information on the moth and its food plant, including the conservation work involved,  please click on the link below.

  • It's an ill wind....

    12:10 13 August 2017
    By Ben Knipe, Dave Almond, Dave Jackson, James Archer, Neil Winder, Roland Wicksteed


    The path at the back of Bridge House regularly needs resurfacing with so many visitors using it. 


    Some drainage work was also needed as can be seen in this image taken after heavy rainfall.


    After several successive storms, tons of lake-shore gravel was dumped on Jenkyn's Field, on the eastern shore of Windermere, well above the normal shoreline. 
    This lake gravel looked ideal to re-surface the path at Bridge House, less than a mile away, as well as clearing the field to some extent.


    In this image the power barrow, probably our most useful "bit of kit" was loaded up.


    It was a tight fit between the wall and the hedge.


     Before...


    ..and...


    after a couple of power barrow loads...


    ... some after shots.
  • Wetheral Woods Balsam Bash.

    15:30 13 July 2017
    By Ben Knipe, Dave Almond, Dave Jackson, James Archer, Neil Winder, Roland Wicksteed

    Owned by the National Trust since the late 40's, Wetheral Woods, the most northerly of the Central and East Lakes properties, cover an area of around 9 hectares.

    The woods are about three and a half miles east of Carlisle, on the west side of the River Eden. They form part of the ancient woodlands surrounding the river in this area.


    A footpath runs through the woods along the banks of the River Eden known to be one of the cleanest rivers in England. 
    This river is one of the few large rivers in England that flows northwards.


    The woodlands have become increasingly inundated with invasive Himalayan balsam, the seeds of which are brought in by the River Eden from infested areas upstream.

    Days have been set aside for rangers and volunteers to deal with this invasive plant. 


    On the way to the worst of the infested sites, time was taken to have a quick look at the mysterious St.Constantine Cells, also known as Safe Guards.


    These cave dwellings are early Medieval in origin and probably used by the nearby Priory of Wetheral as a refuge during border raids...hence the name Safe Guards.
    However, legend would have it that St.Constantine stayed here when he was a hermit.

    Three large square chambers were cut into the sandstone cliff face about forty
     feet above the River Eden with a protective masonry front wall into which
    three windows and a fireplace were incorporated. 


    ...The fireplace...


    ...A spectacular view of the River Eden from one of the windows...


    Originally access would have been by ladder from below.
     It would then have been drawn up.
    Now access is from above down a flight of stone cut steps.


    Back to business...slashing back the balsam before it has a chance to set seed.
    It is a race against time!


    A native fern, all but smothered by balsam.


    Balsam in this instance is pulled up by hand to prevent harming the fern.


    The fern now free of its "shroud" of balsam.


    The balsam is snapped below the bottom node to prevent it from re-rooting itself.


    A large area of balsam cleared but much more work is needed elsewhere.
    Very little can grow under such dense stands of Himalayan balsam.


    Roger, foreground, and Martin. Two willing and able volunteers!


    This stone on the riverbank is believed to have been used by prehistoric people
    to sharpen their spears or axes.

    A lot of balsam has been cleared, but it is an ongoing battle; more work on balsam bashing at Wetheral Woods will be written into the work programme for next season!

  • 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.  

News from Neil Winder

Photo of Neil Winder

Area Ranger-Grasmere and Great Langdale.

Growing up in the Lakes naturally progressed to working in this beautiful area. After studying Countryside management at Newton Rigg College Penrith I spent time volunteering for the RSPB at Leighton Moss Silverdale. These experiences lead to employment with the National Trust whom I’ve been with for over 14 years now.
I’ve worked on the upland footpath team carrying out footpath repairs in the area and as Warden working on countryside estate work like walling, fencing and hedge laying.
As Area Ranger I’m Responsible for planning and coordinating general operations over 7800 Hectares of countryside portfolio.
I love the outdoors, getting out side in my work and also spending time walking with my family.
I’ve been known to enjoy bursts of trail running when my energy levels are high. I also have a passion for electronic music; I was a DJ for many years and hold a qualification in computer music production.

Blog:
http://centralandeastlakesrangers.blogspot.co.uk/