Latest news from Roy Henderson

  • Hosnian Prime in Borrowdale

    12:00 03 March 2016
    By Roy Henderson

    Over the years, we’ve had a large number of films, TV series and commercials filmed in the Borrowdale  area. I can remember seeing on TV a Heinz soup commercial that was filmed at Ashness Bridge many years ago when I first began to work here.  Since then I’ve seen filming for many Ken Russell films, Miss Potter, Inside the National Trust, Coronation Street, many more commercials and lots of mini-series.

     Here are some pictures of Daisy on some of the Star Wars locations.

    The most recent and largest is Star Wars which I am sure many of you will have seen by now. I spent some time with the locations manager for the film and, after discussion of what they needed, was able to suggest a few possibilities. His final choice of views in Borrowdale would be very recognizable if you know the area.

    It’s easy to understand why so many film-makers would choose the Lake District and in particular Borrowdale. It is stunningly beautiful and very easy to access so many superb view-points. And, of course, there is lots of good accommodation available for the film crew.

    Daisy here, I’ve been to Hosnian Prime

  • Stardom for Borrowdale - featured in Star Wars.

    13:02 19 February 2016
    By Roy Henderson

    It’s really good to be able to report that the Lake District is back on its feet again after the December flooding. We did have small pockets that were badly damaged but they are now well on the road to recovery and most of it is now back to its usual splendour.  

    I’ve now been able to return with my regular volunteers to continue the drainage work we have started in Braithwaite. It has been quite a while since I’ve seen eels in the area so it was a good surprise to see two of them that day. We scooped them up and took them to a safer place away from where we were working.

    I’ve also been out with a larger group combining my regular volunteers with volunteers from Keswick Tourism Association, the National Park and Fix the Fells. We all got together to do a mass litter-pick tidying up the high water mark on the lake shore. That went incredibly well with the volunteers doing superb work as ever..

    The weather has also turned for the better. We are seeing more blue skies and, with the snow-topped mountains, the Lake District has been looking fantastic. I wonder how many of you have seen the new Star Wars film and recognized that a lot of it was filmed in Borrowdale. And, of course, it looked fantastic there as well.

    Daisy here, It’s not raining. Life’s fantastic. It’s great.

  • Spread the load or honey-potting?

    11:52 10 February 2016
    By Roy Henderson

    Last week myself and Gareth Field, the Outdoor and Sports Programme Manager for the Lakes, went to the National Institute for Outdoor Learning where I had been asked to deliver a talk at their conference. The talk was to be about ‘honey-potting’ as opposed to ‘spreading the load’ within the outdoor industry.

    Things don’t always go to plan and there was a power-cut just before I was due to deliver my presentation so I just carried on with the talk without being able to show images! I began with the example of Castlerigg Stone Circle. This is a Neolithic stone circle just outside Keswick that has enormous numbers of visitors. We have installed two extra gates so that there are now three to access the site. This spreads the footfall from the parking layby and reduces the wear of the grass, although we still have to re-turf the walk around the circle each year.

    I then used the example of the path up the lower slopes of Grisedale Pike where we have two parallel paths and we swap from one to the other about every 3 or 4 years giving one chance to recover before the next switch.

    Finally I described the ribbon of footpaths we’ve constructed throughout the Lake District, both the digger paths made on the soft soils and the pitched paths that we tend to construct in the harder central fells within the Borrowdale volcanics. The path around Derwentwater with its sections of recycled board-walk is an excellent example of creating a balance between maximum access for huge numbers of people and minimal environmental damage. These paths concentrate people in relatively small areas and give good access whilst protecting wildlife and our conservation interests.

    My talk then moved on to the more specialist work done with outdoor instructors. This section included the installation of a multi-use abseil point at the Bowder Stone and the installation of chains in Stoneycroft Gill with the development of a gill-scrambling code to focus on using the harder wearing gills where damage will be minimised.

    I then introduced the Lake District WhiteGuide which has been developed by a partnership of The British Mountaineering Council, The Fell and Rock Climbers Club, the Lake District National Park, Natural England and the National Trust. This is an excellent code of conduct for winter climbing within the Lake District.

    I finally introduced as a discussion topic the issue of where the instructors and centres’ clients go to the toilet when they are away from the outdoor centres. I know some individual instructors and centres have a policy but I think it important that they think about it carefully and don't just send clients to go behind the nearest tree. The example of good practice I gave was the Canadian National Park system where they have a pristine environment. 

    They helicopter in toilets above the snow line. There's no way we could afford to do this but if every centre and instructor packed it back out with them it would solve the problem in some honey-pot areas overnight.

    The talk appeared to be well-received and I have had several emails thanking me for doing it. I have talked to large groups in the past but it is not the norm for me to talk to 150 people. But these are people who share our concerns for our landscape so it was definitely worth sharing our experiences in the hope that we will all be working in the same direction to develop best practice in future.

    Daisy here: It’s just raining again. I don’t like it. I do like it when it’s windy. That’s great.

  • Planning for increased resilience.

    05:43 31 January 2016
    By Roy Henderson

    We are now several weeks into our recovery work after the floods. We have completed the first high-pressure phase where we responded as quickly as possible to any dangerous situations and also restored access as far as possible. Now we are into the second phase where we will spend some time considering appropriate actions to increase resilience.

    After previous flooding events, we were under some pressure to put everything back exactly as it had been. Having in mind that these disruptive flooding events might recur more often than we once expected, this time we are going to consider what changes we might make to minimise future damage.

    We are starting this by looking at how we can manage the water-catchment area as a whole. As part of this I’ve been out with a Trust water advisor, John Malley, in the Force Crag Mine and Coledale area. There have been several landslips in the valley and there is a lot of material above the mine that will come down eventually. We have been discussing how we can ensure that it does as little damage as possible to the mine site when it finally does shift dramatically.

    We are also going to move some lake-shore fencing that was destroyed up to a higher level. This will give more space for fencing and footpaths that will be less vulnerable in future.

    Hopefully, part of the good that will come out of the floods will be that we go into the future with a more robust, more resilient landscape.

    Daisy here: It’s been snowing. Life’s great.

  • Some winter weather to enjoy!

    14:46 22 January 2016
    By Roy Henderson

    Well, the weather has certainly taken a turn for the better now and the Lake District is looking absolutely fantastic at the moment. We’ve got snow as you would expect at this time of the year and often clear blue skies to go with it.

    We still have quite a bit of work to do following the flood damage but we are steadily getting through it. As ever, we’ve had a huge amount of help from volunteering individuals and from different volunteering groups that have come in to add their efforts. Whenever something like the flooding occurs, it always astounds and humbles me to see how people rally round to help wherever they can.  

    As you might have seen on TV reports, neighbours helped neighbours in any way they could. Those that haven’t been flooded helped those who have. Many who are not regular volunteers for the Trust turned out to help with anything from fixing damaged fencing to working on repairing damaged paths. It has been brilliant to see such a resilient community in action. It definitely shows the best side of human nature.

    Daisy here: It’s great. I go mad when it’s snowing. I love running in the snow.

  • A tale of two bridges!

    11:47 14 January 2016
    By Roy Henderson

    As most of you will know from news bulletins, here in the Lake District we have been affected by exceptionally heavy rain which caused pockets of flood damage. Our first priority work-wise had to be making sure that anything dangerous is repaired or signed as quickly as possible. If we put a danger sign in place, it is because it IS dangerous to use. I’ve had my fencing barrier at Watendlath packhorse bridge taken down twice and have had to use valuable time to put it back when I could have been using that time to be building a new bridge. That’s not only frustrating but it actually delays my being able to complete a new bridge for walkers to safely use.

    My brother works for the National Park Authority and they’ve had fences and warning signs taken down in places where walkers think there is no danger. They are putting themselves at risk when they do this but, what is worse, is that people who follow later no longer have the warning signs and may be at risk because of the actions of others.

    There are not many stretches of damaged paths and we are making them accessible as quickly as possible. Meanwhile, please do not ignore or remove warning signs and barriers. They are not forgotten and are there for everybody's safety. Before Christmas we built a footbridge alongside the damaged Watendlath packhorse bridge. This is one of our oldest built structures within Borrowdale so we have scaffolding in place at present to brace it and support it. It will take some time but it will be repaired or rebuilt.

    Daisy here: I’m sick of the rain!

  • Gallery 2015

    17:51 25 December 2015
    By Roy Henderson

    I've been having a busy time in the aftermath of storm Desmond but have finally put together a selection of pictures that illustrate some of the work we have done this last year. There is more heavy rain forecast but we just have to hope it isn't as bad this time.

  • The after-effects of storm Desmond.

    11:32 20 December 2015
    By Roy Henderson

    I’m sure you will be aware from news reports that we had large amounts of rain last week in the Lake District. It caused quite a lot of isolated pockets of damage including a number of landslides. Fortunately most of the valley withstood the deluge remarkably well. At the head of the valley where the underlying rocks are the very hard Borrowdale volcanics, there has been minimal damage. The land slips have occurred mainly in the part of the valley where the underlying rocks are the softer slates.

    Path washed away

    More path damage

    Our new footbridge survived ...

    ... but the path will need some repair.
    We are working as quickly as we can to have everything repaired and made safe for access. Some of the Trust guys from Wasdale have come across to help and they are doing a sterling job.It won’t be too long before we are back to normal.

    Some of the damage on Catbells.
    Repairs underway

    Culvert firmly in place
     Bridge in Watendlath closed until safety checks have been carried out.

    It’s sad to see the people of Keswick, Braithwaite, Cockermouth and indeed county-wide who have had their homes flooded yet again. Some, including my brother, have had this happen three times in recent years. It could have been so much worse though but the emergency services and community flood action groups did fantastic work to keep people safe.

    Work underway to clear beck above Braithwaite.

    The calm (and some snow) after the storm!


    Daisy here: 

    Everything’s changed on the lake shore. My favourite walk is not the same but it’ll be OK. 
  • Winter work.

    21:51 04 December 2015
    By Roy Henderson

    I’ve spent much of this last week preparing for a project in Braithwaite, a village near Keswick. There is a flooding problem on the Common in an area owned by the Trust so I’m going to replace the old, clay land drain that has collapsed in places with a new one made from modern materials. We hope that will solve the flooding problem for the foreseeable future.

    My main concern at the start of this is the position of existing underground services. I’ve been able to find some useful mapping on the United Utilities website but there are lots of other things in the area I will need to find. Telephone lines, power cables, fresh water, waste water and gas pipes all run through where we will need to dig. So I’ve spent some time carefully surveying the area with a CAT scanner. This scan detects the location and then I dig test pits to establish exactly what is there.
    The next step will be to bring in a mini-digger and the last thing we want to do is sever essential pipes or cables.

    It is now several months since construction of the water treatment plant at Force Crag Mine was completed. The mine is no longer operational but contaminated water continues to drain from the workings. This new plant will clean up the water before it enters the streams, rivers and lakes of this area. This is a pioneering project and is a collaborative venture between the National Trust, the National Coal Board, the Environment Agency and Newcastle University so it is of some significance. As such it merited an opening ceremony last Friday carried out by Rory Stewart MP who represents our neighbouring constituency of Penrith & the Borders and is also a minister in the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA)

    A huge amount of credit must go to John Malley, the National Trust’s water advisor who steered this project from its beginning. It must be immensely satisfying for him to see it complete and working well.

    Winter is now here so our upland footpath rangers have come down from the high fells to work for me and other rangers in the Borrowdale valley. So I spent some time delivering stone for them to collect with their wheel-less wheelbarrows to take onward to their working site.

    Daisy here. 

    Poppet has come to stay. Poppet is a dog that lives with Roy’s mum and dad and she’s come to stay for a little while. It’s great. We love playing. I’m faster than she is but she can turn really quickly.

  • From Fountains Abbey to a Borrowdale cave.

    10:30 28 November 2015
    By Roy Henderson

    Last week I had another away-day when I visited Fountains Abbey near Ripon in North Yorkshire. The Abbey was founded in the 12th century by Cistercian monks. At the height of its power, it owned extensive lands including Borrowdale.  Four hundred years after its foundation, it was stripped of its land and powers by Henry VIII during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. Its subsequent decline left us with the stunning remains that are now a World Heritage site.

    The Abbey is a now a National Trust property that is very different from Borrowdale in many ways. What it does share with Borrowdale is the enormous number of people who visit and the on-going project of how to maintain accessibility whilst protecting the site. As usual, for me, there is always something to learn from visiting other places. I must be honest and admit that, although I’m really pleased that the Trust owns places like Fountains Abbey, my heart’s in the mountains. It was great to be back in Borrowdale.

    My return was to a very wet Borrowdale! The lakes and rivers here do have an enormous capacity but, at this time of year, we can have days of heavy rain falling on already water-logged ground. The lake level then rises too quickly for the rivers to accommodate the increased discharge and we have some flooding, especially of the paths around the lake shore. Where the flooding will occur depends to some extent on wind direction as it is the waves that do the most damage. So, we’ll be out soon looking for the repairs that need doing.

    Fortunately for my regular volunteers, we had a dry job to do. One of the legacies of slate mining in Borrowdale is a cave that was adopted as home in the early 1900s by a remarkable character named Millican Dalton. He had been living and working in London but he gave it all up to spend 50 years developing a sustainable way of living in this cave. The cave is now often used for overnight camping. Some years ago, the Trust had a geo-technical survey carried out in the cave. The recommendation was that we observe a clear-floor policy. If we keep the floor clear of loose stone, we will be able to see if there has been any fall from the roof of the cave. The survey found that the roof is sound but we should still check regularly for any falls. The Trust wants to keep the cave open but needs to know that it is safe to do so. Many campers like to gather stone and arrange it almost like a nest. So, at regular intervals, we need to clear the floor again. And that was a dry job that we could do during some pretty wet weather!

    Daisy here.

     I’m sick of it raining now but I’ve got a new jacket. I like it when I put that on.

News from Roy Henderson

Photo of Roy Henderson

I’m the National Trust ranger for Borrowdale and Newlands in the North Lakes, UK. I volunteered for the Trust when I came on the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme aged 13. I started by building a new fence on Friars Crag to tackle an erosion problem and making paths more accessible for people with limited mobility. I enjoyed it so much that I continued to volunteer until I left school and was lucky enough to get a job with the National Trust. After working for the Trust for 29 years, I still love the job.