News from Paul Kear for December 2016

  • Toblerone or not Toblerone that is the question - New Year Resolutions

    15:10 22 December 2016
    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




    Believe and Achieve


    Another  year is coming to a close and it seems an appropriate time to look back and reflect, to think about the highlights, what’s been achieved and those New Year resolutions.

    Last night I was tidying the bedside drawer and sifting through all the tablets, sprays, inhalers,ointments and contraptions that enable me to function as a vaguely normal human being these days,  I came across a crumpled bit of paper; on it I had scribbled my new year resolutions for 2016. It read.....


                      A)    Put an end to global poverty.
                      B)    Bring about world peace.
                      C)     Tidy the garage.

                 Note to self . ... Believe and achieve
                                         

    Mmmm.........Well if you’ve opened a newspaper, or turned on the news recently, you’ll have realised that I haven’t made quite as much progress on the first two as I would have liked, and indeed after a strong start in the garage earlier this year I have slipped back there somewhat in recent months as well. So much so in fact that a neighbours son came round recently while playing; aged about 6 he comes from a family who keep  their house scrupulously clean and are fastidiously neat. He was playing the role of an inspector of some description, complete with clip board , pencil and a disapproving look that Claude Littner off  ‘The Apprentice’ would have approved of ! He took a look inside the garage and after not much deliberation ,declared it a fail, on some unspecified health and safety infringement, .... cheeky monkey.  What’s wrong with kids these days anyway, playing at Health and Safety Inspectors,  when they should be out stealing from shops, smashing things up and having spitting competitions ?
    To be honest looking at it myself again I could see his point, I thought it’s a good job he hadn’t seen the garage before I’d tidied it  ........ 

    Sorry Claude - not only have I let myself down....


     The final Straw

    That’s the final straw, I resolve that my  new year resolutions for 2017 will be more achievable  ....


                   A)    Eat more Toblerone.
                   B)    Use the word ‘truckle’ whenever I can.
                   C)     Wear a hat.



          Climb every mountain ?

    But, if you decide you have more about you than me,  why not make some more challenging resolutions.





                 1.   Get fit –  try one of our free 'Trust 10' trail runs. 4th Sunday of every month, you don’t have to be Mo Farah you could be Mo....stly walking it, if that suits you ! (015394 41880  or nationaltrust.org.uk/running )

                       
    join us on the West side of Windermere
                                  






             2.      Re-connect with the natural world – Spend some quality ‘you time’ or should that be ‘Yew time’ in the beautiful, tranquil Dodgson  and Bailiff Woods on the east side of Coniston Water, Cumbria.
    Dodgson Wood - Photo Ed Parker

                    

                                        


                                     
     
                  3.     Climb your first mountain – walk in the footsteps of Chris Bonnington. The summit of Latterbarrow at 803ft is a good starting point and gives you views as good as any summit in the Lakes. Alfred Wainright says  it's "a circular walk needing little effort yet yielding much delight".



                  4.      Do more work for charity – volunteer for the National Trust in the countryside or at one of our houses.
    ( other bits of countryside and charities are available )


    Whatever you decide to do have happy and peaceful 2017, this has been Ranger Paul signing off for the South Lakes Ranger team , see you in the New Year.....now where did I put that extra large triangular chocolate ? ahh there it is underneath my Trilby.
  • I'm 'lichen' it - plenty to see on winter walks

    10:00 09 December 2016
    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

    With winter tightening it's grip it can feel like the whole of nature has hunkered down until spring and there's not much out there to appreciate. That’s what can make winter the ideal time to build an appreciation for some of the less dramatic lifeforms, the ones you might overlook in the more fecund months of the year. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the lichens.

    In fact, given that lichens cover (by some estimations) some 6% of the earth’s surface, overlooking them is something that we probably all do a lot of the time. If it wasn’t for the clean air act then this is something most town dwellers would have been forgiven for as lichens are a great indicator of air pollution – they don’t grow well in polluted environments. But nowadays they can be found almost anywhere, although admittedly you’d need to go to some of the more remote parts of northwest Scotland to see the best examples.
     
    Cabbagey! A very leafy Foliose (see below) Lichen on a tree near Aira Force
    But what is a lichen? Well, it’s complicated. And also a bit weird.

    Simply put, they are composite organisms. This means they are neither one thing or another, but more a new kind of life form that arises from (mostly) an algae living amongst the filaments of a fungus in a symbiotic relationship. The algae benefit by being protected from the environment by the filaments of the fungus, which also gather moisture and nutrients from the environment, and (usually) provide an anchor to it. The fungus benefits because the algae produces food by photosynthesis, something they are unable to do.
     
    Some lovely hairy Fruticose (see below) lichens on a tree
    They’ve been recognised as organisms for quite some time but it wasn’t until 1867 when Swiss botanist Simon Schwendener proposed his dual theory of lichens that their true nature began to emerge. However, common censunsus at the time was that all living things were autonomous so this was rejected at first (it seems the composite organism thing was just too strange) and it took many years and the support of high profile people, including our very own Beatrix Potter, to finally see the idea accepted.

    Nowadays, the arguments still go on. At the moment they are classified by their fungal component, but there is some debate over whether this is the right thing to do as two dramatically different looking lichens can be technically the same thing due to having the same fungus but two different algal parts. Confusing!
     
    Beautiful patterns on a Crustose (see below) lichen on one of the walls at High Wray Basecamp volunteer centre
    In fact, once you start to look into them it gets extraordinarily confusing with identification being a really specialized field requiring microscopes and chemicals. But this doesn’t need to take away from the fact that with a little knowledge and open eyes they can add an extra element to any winter walk.

    A good starting point is to get to know the three most commonly accepted growth forms: Crustose (like a crust), Fruticose (like a little shrub) and Foliose (with leaf like structures). There are lots of others and the boundaries between these are sometimes blurry but get a cheap hand lens and go in close and you’ll be amazed at the microscopic and very alien world that is right there under your nose.
     
    Bright red 'podetia' seen on some lichens, bearing spores 
    Finally, here’s some  Fun lichen facts!

    Unlike simple dehydration in plants and animals, lichens may experience a very high loss of body water in dry periods. Lichens are capable of surviving extremely low levels of water content (poikilohydric). They quickly absorb water when it becomes available again, becoming soft and fleshy. That’s tough!

    The European Space Agency has discovered that lichens can survive unprotected in space. In an experiment two species of lichen were sealed in a capsule and launched on a Russian Soyuz rocket in May 2005. Once in orbit, the capsules were opened and the lichens were directly exposed to the vacuum of space with its widely fluctuating temperatures and cosmic radiation. After 15 days, the lichens were brought back to earth and were found to be in full health with no discernible damage from their time in orbit. That’s tougher!

    Lichens are a pioneer species, often the first to colonize bare rock. They can grow in a very wide range of environmental conditions and can grow on almost any surface. They can even live inside solid rock, growing between the grains. Also quite tough …..


    When growing on rocks some lichens slowly decompose them, contributing to the process of weathering by which they are turned into soil. Normally benign, this can cause a problem on artificial stone structures such as Mount Rushmore in the States which has to be regularly cleaned of Lichens. So tough even the might of the US struggles against them!


    By Rob Clarke, Ranger at High Wray Basecamp volunteer centre

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/