Latest team news - page 2

  • 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.
  • 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.



    after a couple of power barrow loads...

    ... some after shots.
  • 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
  • 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!

  • 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! 
    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.
    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. 
    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.
  • 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