News from Paul Kear for November 2012

  • Underwater hedges and swedes on the fire

    10:00 30 November 2012
    By Clair Payne, Craig Hutchinson, Glenn Bailey, Ian Griffiths, John Atkinson, John Moffat, Luke Sherwen, Matthew Allmark, Nick Petrie, Paul Kear , Richard Tanner, Rob Clarke, Sam Stalker, Sarah Anderson, Stuart Graham

    We don't need to tell anyone it's been a wet month, especially these last few weeks. Most people will have done their best to avoid the rain though, but we've not been so lucky. When there's a hedge to lay and a group of volunteers who've come here to lay it then we've got to be out whatever the weather!
    
    Not ideal conditions - the hedge after laying.
    So it was with some trepidation we headed out last Monday morning with the Chester National Trust volunteers for the first day of their week here. They have a regular slot here at this time of year and are always keen on a bit of hedgelaying. The rain and wind though was doing its best to blunt this keenness, but we find that it's normally a lot worse when you're indoors looking out at it than it is if you get out and get on with something.
    
    Chester National Trust volunteers ready to beat a retreat after a wet day.
     And so it proved for the Monday and, amazingly, the Tuesday as well. With no let up in the foul conditions the group could have been forgiven for hiding in the toilets but they were ready and willing again for the second day! Their free day on Wednesday saw some better weather before normal service resumed for the last work day on Thursday. Despite these terrible conditions they managed to get a good stretch of hedge laid, but it all proved too much for the fire which was eventually battered into submission ......
    Top tip - Fires and pools of water don't go together well ...
    This week has seen some much better weather for our next group, a National Trust hedgelaying working holiday. There's been a few novel experiences; firstly, we've taken our waterproofs off and secondly the cooking of a swede on the fire.
    Fire cooked swede - lovely!
    A new one on us, the holiday leader threw three swedes, unpeeled, on the fire. After 45 minutes he fished them out and peeled them and they were lovely - cooked to perfection with a nice smokey flavour. There's always something new to learn!

    Follow this link to find out more about National Trust working holidays:
    http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/holidays/working-holidays/

    By Rob Clarke, Community Ranger.
  • Cauliflowers Growing on Trees

    15:55 28 November 2012
    By Clair Payne, Craig Hutchinson, Glenn Bailey, Ian Griffiths, John Atkinson, John Moffat, Luke Sherwen, Matthew Allmark, Nick Petrie, Paul Kear , Richard Tanner, Rob Clarke, Sam Stalker, Sarah Anderson, Stuart Graham

    As the year draws on one of the major tasks for rangers is to inspect our trees. As you can imagine, it's no small undertaking and although quite a serious task, it’s also a great excuse to look at some beautiful trees and fungi! So off we go, armed with hammers, binoculars and a pokey stick. Doesn’t sound very technical I admit, but it’s amazing what these simple tools can tell you.


    It’s not always just the tree itself we investigate.  Possible problems can be obvious. Above is a fungus we found on a Douglas Fir. Known as' Cauliflower Fungus' or Sparassis crispa it attacks the roots and sometimes the base of conifers.


    Above is another tree related fungus, the 'Shaggy Scalycap', not looking very shaggy or scaly in the picture I'll admit, but just caught in time for us to identify. (On that note, don’t leave mushrooms in your warm office over the weekend, and then drop them into your manager’s filing cabinet on Monday morning, just some friendly advice!)

    These two finds both flagged up some possible issues for us, but, it’s worth noting that these fungi create vital habitat for insects, birds and even food for red squirrels. The scalycap is one fungus eaten by red squirrels.

    This I think shows the line we tread. We need to keep our places safe, but we also need keep trees with these fascinating fungi. While we're on the subject of trees .... 

    How's this for a Xmas Tree?


    Herioc work by the Rangers got the tree into and standing upright in Wray Castle (no easy task!). If you enjoy decorating Xmas trees you can do just that at Wray Castle which is open at weekends for Xmas-themed activities until Xmas Eve. You can check out the range of Xmas activities here.


    Fungi post and photo by Matt
    Xmas tree photo from John A

  • Our NT Cumbria Volunteer Group

    10:38 19 November 2012
    By Clair Payne, Craig Hutchinson, Glenn Bailey, Ian Griffiths, John Atkinson, John Moffat, Luke Sherwen, Matthew Allmark, Nick Petrie, Paul Kear , Richard Tanner, Rob Clarke, Sam Stalker, Sarah Anderson, Stuart Graham

    This group is made up of a hardy and dedicated bunch covering all of the National Trust properties in Cumbria; no job is too big or too small. A good proportion of the team are based in the lakes but some travel from as far away as Cheshire and the Midlands, which emphasises the commitment and dedication to Conservation and National Trust.

    The team hard at work clearing the site ready for laying.

    The weekend saw the team working near Coniston on a hedge laying day. Hedge laying is one of everyone’s favourite tasks, It was a great day had by all with fantastic sunny weather for a change?!

    Taking a step back to admire your handywork!
     After a well earned lunch and Birgit’s cake (not for the faint hearted!), the team finished off laying the hedge.

    The finished hedge
    Feeling inspired?
    Coming soon to a property near you! If you’re feeling inspired or interested in the work they do or you just want to meet the team, they’ll be working at Ash Landing near the car ferry on the Western side of Windermere on the 2nd of December...let's hope the weather is as good again!


    post & photos | Ranger Stuart
  • No ordinary job

    10:00 09 November 2012
    By Clair Payne, Craig Hutchinson, Glenn Bailey, Ian Griffiths, John Atkinson, John Moffat, Luke Sherwen, Matthew Allmark, Nick Petrie, Paul Kear , Richard Tanner, Rob Clarke, Sam Stalker, Sarah Anderson, Stuart Graham

    Last week's post shows that a Ranger's job can include tasks perhaps not naturally associated with the job... here's a couple of other things not normally in the job description!

    As November arrives it's time to get the steam yacht 'Gondola' out of Coniston Water for the winter and it's traditional that our Rangers give a hand. We thought you might like a look at how it was done last year when a time-lapse video was made of the process, it definitely looks like hard work!


    By way of contrast Gondola's exit from the water usually coincides with the annual Speed Week on the lake when very fast boats indeed go all out to break records. It makes an interesting contrast as we have the sight of the fastest and most modern-looking of boats sharing space at the pier with the traditional, slow and stately Gondola.

    Speed Week visiting boat with 'go-faster' stripes
    Moving on, our Rangers did a brilliant job last week at the Half-Term Halloween-inspired events at Wray Castle where we had many families enjoying a range of activities. Favourite with the kids seemed to be the broomstick-making, led by Richard with a number of other Rangers also lending a hand in the production process...(See our Flash slideshow below, just click on the ranger titles 1-6 to move to the other images.)


    It seems like the Rangers enjoyed it as well as the kids; and we think the smiles of these happy visitors says it all!

    One family looking very happy with the Rangers' efforts

    And the Rangers aren't finished yet: during November while Wray Castle is open at weekends they will be leading Autumn Art and wildlife activities, so once again when a Ranger gets home and gets asked 'what did you do at work today?' the answer is likely to be an unusual one !

    Find out about activities at Wray Castle until Xmas from our Events webpage or Facebook page.

    post by Linda
    video | photographybyward
    speedweek boat photo | Sam Stalker
    Ranger photos | the Wray Castle team
    broomsticks photo | the Winkley family
  • Bunka bunka party!

    10:00 02 November 2012
    By Clair Payne, Craig Hutchinson, Glenn Bailey, Ian Griffiths, John Atkinson, John Moffat, Luke Sherwen, Matthew Allmark, Nick Petrie, Paul Kear , Richard Tanner, Rob Clarke, Sam Stalker, Sarah Anderson, Stuart Graham

    In contrast to the glorious outdoor pictures of the last few posts, there was a different kind of work day recently here at the volunteer centre. For a while we've wanted to replace our squeaky old bunk beds but could never afford it until recently when a very kind donor offered to give us a chunk of money for this purpose. The old ones were metal and had a rather 'prison' like feel to them, so we wanted wooden ones and we also wanted some kind of built in storage as that's rather lacking in the dormitories. After a bit of shopping around we found we could afford to by enough beds to replace all 11 of them Acland block, a real bonus as it's more expensive than you might think when you have a specific wish list like that!
     
    
    Rangers Nick and Luke get to grip with the comprehensive instructions
    We got the order in and requested some of the ranger team to help put them together. It was a good job we did too, as they came in five seperate boxes per bed and with a complex set of instructions to follow. The delivery driver optimistically reckoned they'd take 'a couple of hours' to put together, which, after a bit of practice, was probably about right. The problem was that the beds were delivered just two days before a group was due to be using the block, after a delay due to a van breakdown. So the Acland block resembled a bizarre kind of highly pressurized game show, with a whole clutch of rangers frantically bolting and screwing them together. In the end the main body of the beds were all completed in time, but the built in storage was a different matter. These turned out to be quiet fiendish in design and need a few hours alone to put together, meaning we only managed three of them before the time was up.
     
    
    Jamie needing all his concentration for the fiendish storage units
    
    Now, the dormitories have a much warmer and more welcoming feel with a lot less squeaking going on. We've got a busy November ahead so won't get the chance to build any more storage units until December, but at least we have the quieter winter months then to tackle them. Many thanks to rangers Luke, Sarah, Glenn, Nick and Stuart for helping us out - there may not be somewhere for everyone to put their pants just yet, but at least they've got somewhere to sleep!
    Sarah, Fix the Fells 'woman at the top' lives up to her title!
    By Rob Clarke, Basecamp Community Ranger

News from Paul Kear

Photo of Paul Kear

Fueled by a passion for the fells of Lakeland I moved here in 1991, and became a Volunteer with the National Trust before being lucky enough to join the Upland Ranger team eventually becoming a supervisor until 2001. I then became the Ranger Volunteers, managing the busy volunteer residential centre near Hawkshead, where I had the pleasure of working with many different groups from diverse audiences in practical conservation tasks. In 2010 I moved into my current role of Volunteer Development Manager and since March 2014 am the Countryside Manager in the South Lakes. I have a keen interest in the human & physical geography and spend a lot of time in the fells, walking, running, climbing and camping.

Blog:
http://www.countryside-catchup.blogspot.co.uk/