News from Paul Kear for July 2013

  • The best made bin store in the west!

    09:00 26 July 2013
    By Clair Payne, Craig Hutchinson, Glenn Bailey, Ian Griffiths, John Atkinson, John Moffat, Luke Sherwen, Matthew Allmark, Nick Petrie, Paul Farrington, Paul Kear , Richard Tanner, Rob Clarke, Sam Stalker, Sarah Anderson, Stuart Graham

    ....... In the North West, that is. This last week the volunteer centre at High Wray Basecamp has been full of the sound of chiselling, sawing and hammering. Along with our woodland ranger Richard, we've been hard at work with our second National Trust green woodwork working holiday. Last year we made a new woodstore for Basecamp - this years project is the glamorous sounding recycling store for the grounds of Wray Castle.
    
    Taking advantage of the good weather to work outside on the second day

    So, a bin store. Could have been a hard sell for a green woodwork project, but there's good reason for making a really good job of it. The recycling at the castle is currently stored in a small, damp and difficult to get to stone tunnel round the back of the castle. This inaccesibility meant the big recycling trucks were having difficulty getting to it, so we needed a new location that was easier to get to. However, this new location is close to the front of the castle - which means our timber framed shed needs to look good! We can also use the prominent location to put some information up about how it was built and who built it, making a talking point about it and making sure the volunteers are credited.
    
    In the woodland at the end of the first day with the hand hewn 'Transoms'

    It's been a busy week. We started in a local woods and felled some trees to cut to size and shape the 'transoms', big supporting struts that run along the side of the shed. This takes a long time, so the rest of the wood was cut to size by our wood mill and delivered to Basecamp. The rest of the week has been spent cutting mortice and tenon joints, shaping jowl posts, making pegs and many other chiselling and sawing tasks. We also had to lay the foundations for the shed at the castle, a job not made any easier by the bedrock we hit a few inches down .....
    
    The Basecamp workshop in full swing later in the week when the weather wasn't so kind ..

    The first block for the base goes in ...
    By Thursday evening we're looking well on track to get the frame in place tomorrow - a barn raising moment! There'll be more to do on the shed after that so look for further updates on future blogs ......

    Like the sound of this? For more information on National Trust working holidays go to:

    http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/holidays/working-holidays/


    By Rob Clarke, Basecamp Community Ranger


  • See the lake district differently

    13:55 22 July 2013
    By Clair Payne, Craig Hutchinson, Glenn Bailey, Ian Griffiths, John Atkinson, John Moffat, Luke Sherwen, Matthew Allmark, Nick Petrie, Paul Farrington, Paul Kear , Richard Tanner, Rob Clarke, Sam Stalker, Sarah Anderson, Stuart Graham

    No-one likes sitting in front of the computer when the weather's this good so this blog post is shorter than usual!

    On our NTsouthlakes Twitter page we've recently re-tweeted a couple of videos that give a quirky view of things close to our hearts. If you haven't seen them already here's a chance to view.

    The first one is a jaunty little ditty from our friends at Windermere Reflections...



    and the second is how else you can get around in the Lakes without using the car.


    Enjoy the sunny weather - even better by bike, bus or boat or on foot!
  • The Crown And The Carnivores

    09:00 12 July 2013
    By Clair Payne, Craig Hutchinson, Glenn Bailey, Ian Griffiths, John Atkinson, John Moffat, Luke Sherwen, Matthew Allmark, Nick Petrie, Paul Farrington, Paul Kear , Richard Tanner, Rob Clarke, Sam Stalker, Sarah Anderson, Stuart Graham

    As mentioned in previous blogs, the footpath team's main project of the year has been on the side of Fairfield and as walks home from the work site go, it's pretty special and here's why.  Setting off from high on the ridge we look down on to Grisedale Tarn.  The tarn is apparently 110 feet deep and holds Perch, Brown Trout and Eels.  Legend has it that King Dunmail's crown rests at the bottom of it.  Dunmail was supposedly the last King of Cumbria but in 945AD, he and his army were defeated in battle in the valley between Grasmere and Thirlmere (hence the reason it's now called Dunmail Raise) and he lost his life.  Survivors of the battle carried his crown to Grisedale Tarn and threw it into the depths believing he would rise up again at some point and retrieve his crown.

    Grisedale Tarn as viewed from our work site

     After walking round the side of the Tarn we also have our daily commute downhill via Raise Beck.  It's a steep walk along a terraced path that traverses along waterfalls and pools. Most of the path is man-made but is difficult to tell because it sits on top of revetment walls which are hidden from view, some of which the team have repaired in previous years.

    Luke and Lin enjoying the walk down at the end of the day
     Points of interest on the Raise Beck path include some of the vegetation that grows to the side of the path.  Sundew is one of them.  This is a carnivorous plant that grows in wet flushes waiting for an unsuspecting insect to land on it.  It coaxes insects in by producing a sticky mucilage that they find irresistible and once they've landed on the leaves they can't get away.  Death is usually by asphyxiation or exhaustion. The mucilage then begins to breakdown the insect and then the resulting 'soup' is taken in by the plant.

    Sundew (note the dead fly on one of the leaves at the bottom left of the plant)
     Another killer that lurks on the path is the Butterwort.  It grows on the damp bedrock and attracts insects in by forming visible droplets on the leaves.  Once the insect has landed on the leaf and begins to struggle, the more mucilage is produced by the plant, encasing the insect, thus ending the poor creatures life.  The plant is flowering at this time of year and a purple flower is formed on a very long stem.  The reason why the stem is so long is that it hopefully prevents would-be pollinators from getting caught in it's leaves.  Very clever.


    Butterwort in flower

     The final part of our commute takes us back to the Base which takes us past Coniston Water.  It makes us wonder if this is possibly the best commute in the country?  Probably.......




    By Ian Griffiths (Upland Ranger)



  • Ambition and Neglect in the garden

    12:17 05 July 2013
    By Clair Payne, Craig Hutchinson, Glenn Bailey, Ian Griffiths, John Atkinson, John Moffat, Luke Sherwen, Matthew Allmark, Nick Petrie, Paul Farrington, Paul Kear , Richard Tanner, Rob Clarke, Sam Stalker, Sarah Anderson, Stuart Graham

    Ambition and Neglect in the garden

    “ I’ve bought you some new wheels,”  she said with a smile that I couldn’t quite place. With a significant birthday coming up I was hoping that she might have picked up on the non too subtle hints I’ve been dropping about that new road bike .  “ top of the range ... German “  she said , oooh German ....precision engineering I thought.... sounds interesting I thought trying to think of  German bike companies or German Tour de France winners.
    “It’s in the garage if you want a look “ . It’s a few weeks until my birthday but I thought ,why not,  maybe I could take it for a spin .

    The Wolf Garten  ‘ Ambition’ 48 A HW is indeed top of the range , it’s a top of the range self propelled lawnmower ! complete with  Briggs and Stratton engine  , red and yellow finishing like a formula 1 car , and it’s own grass collecting box. It carries the name ‘Ambition’  proudly on it’s side .
     
      


    As my ‘ambition’ is to spend as little time as possible gardening , I’m hoping we are on the same wave length.

    Our garden is definitely showing signs of neglect the grass  is longer than it should be the edges are overgrown with brambles , hogweed and dogs mercury, there are waterlogged areas  and the ‘lawn’ is at least 50% moss  ....... as a National Trust Ranger this could be embarrassing but fortunately for me much of  our native flora and fauna  thrives on neglect . Our wild wet mossy lawn is covered with traditional woodland and meadow flowers  speedwell , self heal, yellow pimpernel, meadowsweet  and  eyebright . These plants were once common in our hay meadows, but due to changes in farming methods , the greater use of fertilisers and the move from traditional hay to silage as winter fodder for the livestock they have become much less common . In Britain we have lost 97 % of our traditional  hay meadows in the last 60 years  and along with them birds like corncrakes and harvest mice  once a common site in our  countryside are now rarely seen ,  meadow flowers now only survive on ‘neglected’ patches of ground and  road verges .

                                           Rangers  Hay Meadow surveying at Hill Top

     
    Fortunately Hill Top farm  in Near Sawrey  ( the first farm that Beatrix Potter bought in the Lake District ) has some of those few remaining hay meadows and this week we have been monitoring the health of the meadows . I’ll be honest it’s not the most unpleasant job that we Rangers have to do , it involves wandering through the meadow with a quadrat ( a  small square of wire ) a hand lens  and a clip board . Every 10 paces we throw the quadrat down and record what species are found within it. By repeating this exercise ,sometimes up to 120 times ! we slowly build up a picture of the dominant grasses and flowers to be found in each meadow. We can then compare our findings with previous years to see if they have changed over time . The answer in case you are wondering is that the meadows at Hill Top continue to be quite diverse with a wide range of  flowers with wonderful names like   ragged robin, pignut,  mouse ear, yellow rattle , farmers knee and ox-eye daisy. These names are so great that I actually just made one up and your not sure which one it is are you !

               oxe eye daisy , eyebright and if you look carefully you might be able to see a farmers knee

    If you want a bit of wild flower action in your own garden my advice is  give the lawnmower a rest and get out on your bike more ! Leave an area to go wild , cut and remove the grass once a year and see what develops, it might be more than just your calf muscles !
    Paul Farrington
    National Trust Ranger South Lakes
  • What a ranger intern does

    07:42 01 July 2013
    By Clair Payne, Craig Hutchinson, Glenn Bailey, Ian Griffiths, John Atkinson, John Moffat, Luke Sherwen, Matthew Allmark, Nick Petrie, Paul Farrington, Paul Kear , Richard Tanner, Rob Clarke, Sam Stalker, Sarah Anderson, Stuart Graham

    Our ranger intern Leila gives an update on what she's been doing since she started her time with us several weeks ago....

    Leila at Wray Castle
    It’s seven weeks into my internship and I’m really beginning to find my feet and feel part of the team here. So what does an intern do?

    Well a bit of everything really. I’ve spent time with all the different ranger teams and it’s been a real insight into what rangering is. There’s plenty of practical work to be done with a lot of grass to be cut around visitor sites at this time of year, especially Wray Castle – a job we all grumble about, but that I secretly enjoy! Endless dry stone wall gaps to be repaired; fencing to take down and put up; a boardwalk to put in and I’ve had great fun driving all the different vehicles to and from work sites, which are much bigger than anything I’ve driven before!

    But it’s not all practical work and I’ve been helping out with volunteer groups and attending meetings too, as well as learning about plant identification and going out surveying the hay meadows around Hill Top.

    It’s been an exciting month and a half and I’m looking forwards to getting stuck in to the next six months.


    post by intern Leila .

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/