Latest team news

  • From Mighty Acorns....or Shed Some Light.

    11:22 22 October 2018
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    As part of a woodland management scheme, a group of oaks were due to be felled in High Hag Wood above the Footprint.

    James Archer, (Area Ranger CEL), decided the wood could be put to good use for constructing a green oak  fire-wood store/tool shed to replace the old delapidated one.
    Group-felling breaks up woodland structures, where trees are of a similar age and size...creating new gaps with more light encourages oak, rowan, birch, and hazel, to regenerate.

    By developing patches of trees of differing ages and sizes, woodlands will become more varied and diverse.
    Liam Plummer,Central and East Lakes, Woodland Ranger.

      Richard Tanner, the Woodland Ranger for South lakes, had already agreed to lead a Working Holiday Group to construct the framework for the shed out of the felled oak. Richard has successfully led groups at Wray Castle and Base Camp on similar 'green oak' building projects. 
    Contractors with a chain saw mill processed the oak logs into timber to the required specifications.

    The timber was brought down to the Footprint by power barrow.
    Joinery work (NO NAILS!) was carried out inside the Footprint as well as outside on the decking. The frame work was assembled inside the Footprint and then taken down to be reassembled on its chosen permanent site.


    Richard casting a critical eye!
    Assembling the frame-work on the newly prepared pad.
    Below...
    A job well done and right on schedule! With Richard's skillful guidance, The Group can be justifiably proud of what they have achieved in just a week.
    *****************************************************************************


    Larch cladding was provided by NT Boon Crag sawmill. The next stage was to to fit this around the oak framework, to show it off to its best advantage.

    Putting on the roof was the next stage.
    Roofing complete and under the eaves a newly installed nesting box.
    The smaller of the two doorways under construction.
    Finally the build is complete with doors and beautiful rustic handles.

     Thanks to Richard and Hugo from South Lakes, the Working holiday Group, Boon Crag saw mill, Ian Taylor and Stuart Morley.
  • A Monster Wall Gap...rebuilt through effective team effort!

    07:00 11 October 2018
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    Having been weakened by Storm Desmond back in December 2015 a large section of wall finally collapsed, in several stages, above 'Seldom Seen' overlooking Ullswater.

    NT Rangers and volunteers from Ullswater and Windermere had the daunting task of rebuilding it!

    The wall is adjacent to the footpath to Sheffield Pike; the gap was over 30 feet in length.
    The wall was severely undermined by torrents of water. This section had to be taken down  to allow replacement foundation stones to be reset.
    One of the truly massive foundation stones being levered back into place; this was not a task for the faint of heart!
    Another, even bigger stone...
    ...was finally re-positioned with a few choice words of encouragement!
    A view of the foundations gradually being put in place. It can be seen how steep the slope is;  many of the stones had tumbled down the bank and they had to laboriously be brought back up again.
    Again, it is clear to see in this image just how steep the slope is.
    Walling up on the low side of the wall.
    The old concrete pipe was damaged in the wall's collapse so a new wider diameter pipe was brought in as a suitable replacement.
    Walling over the pipe.
    The wall is over 10 feet high on the down slope and at this stage the walling will have to be completed from the high side by walling 'over-hand'.
    The pipe is in position ready to take the flow of the beck the next time it is in spate.
    Some of the biggest stones we have seen in a dry-stone wall.
    The wall is well on its way to completion
    Another view with stone still to be dragged up the bank to be used in the wall.
    Putting on the top stones or cams
    Nearly up to height...
    ...and a view of the completed wall. The pipe will be trimmed but some overhang is desirable to allow the flow of water to clear the wall and hopefully reduce the chance of damage to the foundations in the future.

    It took a team of between three and four, (depending on the days worked), to complete the work in just under five days.

  • Revisiting Boredale Hause

    07:15 08 October 2018
    By Ade Mills, Pete Entwistle, Leo Walmsley

    We recently had a site visit over to the bridleway coming down from Boredale Hause to check how things were looking and catch up with the South Lakes team, who are still working up there.

    Bottom section before starting work

     Bottom section (after)

    This series of photographs shows how the path looked either prior to commencing work, or just after landscaping, and one month after the landscaping once the grass seed has started to grow.

     Lower section (before)

     Lower section (after)

    You can immediately see the difference now the grass has started to grow, as the eroded area has been considerably narrowed. The erosion is wider in many places than can be seen in the photographs, as much of it is hidden by the piles of rock.

     Lower Section 2 (before)

      Lower Section 2 (after)

    It's still early days for the grass growth, as the banks are still very mobile and it can easily be set-back by sheep, dogs, or people walking over it. If the grass can be left undisturbed for a year, it is much more likely to withstand walking on.

    Sheep also have a tendency to be attracted to this fresh growth, but as it is just developing the sheep tend to pull the seedlings out by the roots as they are unable to cut through the grass with their teeth. This uprooted grass, of course, perishes.

     Middle section (immediately after landscaping)

      Middle section (one month later)

    Most of the turf that was placed alongside the path, which had originally struggled due to the very dry summer, has now started to grow. This will help keep much of the soil off the path if disturbed by sheep wandering over the banks.

     Upper middle section (immediately after landscaping)

     Upper middle section (one month later)

    It can take time for everything to properly settle down and it's also likely that some of the grass will die off during the winter, so we'll keep a close eye on things and carry some more bags of grass seed up when required.

    Bedrock section (immediately after landscaping)

    Bedrock section (one month later)
  • 'Rare Albion cattle recognised on the RBST Watchlist'.

    06:56 05 October 2018
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    Extracts from Media Release Issued: 03/10/2018.

    'Surviving against the odds, an historic cattle breed has been formally recognised for the first time since the 1960's. Rare breeds Survival Trust has just welcomed the very rare Albion cattle onto the Watchlist as a recognised UK native rare breed.'

    'Gail Sprake, Chairman of RBST said, "Here at RBST we proudly boast that no breed has become extinct since we formed in 1973, but we so easily could have been proven wrong by failing to recognise these cattle. The Albions have had a dramatic reversal of fortune since their heyday in the 1920's, but we hope that this recognition will herald the start of a new chapter for the breed"

    'The National Trust look after an historic herd at High Lickbarrow near Windermere which means the public can admire and support this incredibly endangered breed'.

    In the light of such encouraging news for the future of the Albion breed, here are some images that I have taken over the last three years of the wonderful Scoutbeck Herd of Albions at High Lickbarrow.


















  • Repairing the footpath up Stone Arthur

    06:40 17 September 2018
    By Ade Mills, Pete Entwistle, Leo Walmsley

    About a month ago we started work on our second upland project of the year over in Grasmere, on the footpath up Stone Arthur.

     Rolling the rock into position

    When we had the rock moved to site by helicopter last year it was impossible for the stone to be dropped exactly where we needed it. Because of the steepness of the slope and the presence of a large Sycamore tree many of the bags had to be dropped away from the area where we need to work.

     The rock on site and ready to use

    Our first job was to roll several tonnes of rock down, and across, the hill to where we needed it for the path repairs.

     Lower section (before)

    The main part of the job is to divert the footpath around an area that was badly damaged by a landslip during the Storm Desmond flooding. The original path-line skirts around the fellside a few metres below where we're working.

    Lower section (after)

    During the landslip that washed away the path, a large area of bedrock was exposed that proved difficult for many people to navigate. Because of this, numerous new paths were created and vegetation was being lost rapidly as water flowed through these newly trodden routes.

     Bedrock section (before)

    You can see the new line of the path going up and around the area of exposed bedrock in the photographs above and below.

    Bedrock section (after)

    Much of the area is quite boggy, due to the hard ground and bedrock just below the surface (which caused the landslip as the overlying saturated ground washed away), so we've incorporated plenty of drainage to help keep water off the new path.

     Working on the middle section

    We're also making use of a large gully that has been created by both water and walking boots, by diverting the path around on to an alternative route and turning the gully into a large drainage channel to help remove water from the area.

     Top section (before)

    Due to the hardness of the ground and having to spend several days moving rock around the site, the job is progressing slightly more slowly than we'd have hoped. But once completed, the new path will make a real difference. We'll be able to remove several old paths, improve the drainage of the area, re-vegetate areas that have been worn down to the soil and make it much easier and safer for people out enjoying the fells.

    Top section (after)
  • A Stitch In Time

    07:50 21 August 2018
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

     The country-side rangers duties include regular patrols, usually on a weekly basis, of the lake-shore properties to check on any problems and deal with them.
     Litter picking and  pulling out invasive himalayan balsam takes up a fair amount of this time.
    Whilst checking Galava, located  at the head of Windermere, we discovered that there had been a collapse over the covered culvert through which Fisherbeck runs; sometimes the culvert is unable to contain the volume of water, after heavy rainfall, and it will find a weak spot and punch a way through.

    As this culvert is close to a very popular footpath to the Roman Fort, and the fact cattle graze this area we needed to repair it as quickly as possible!
    We put in place a large traffic cone to warn of and at the same time cover the hole.
    Luckily we were able to locate a large slate to cover the hole.

    With the recent heay rain it wasn't possible to effect a full rebuild of the collapsed culvert but this will be done when the water levels have dropped.

    This sort of problem does highlight the importance of regular patrols, particularly of the most popular sites!
  • Continuing our work at Boredale Hause

    06:41 06 August 2018
    By Ade Mills, Pete Entwistle, Leo Walmsley

    We've been working on the path leading up to Boredale Hause for around three months now and although there's still a fair amount to do, it's really starting to take shape now.

    When working on a long length of path like this, we each work on a stretch of about ten metres at a time. When that section is completed and joined up with the team member working above, we leapfrog higher up the path and continue like this until the whole length of path is finished.

    Starting higher up the path

    You can see in the photo below how the full width of the erosion is used to help meander the path, making it easier to walk on and reducing the visual impact.

     Completed section of path

    Due to all the dry weather we've had this year, we've struggled getting grass seed to germinate on sections of path that we've landscaped and many of the turfs that were carefully removed while building the path have dried out and died.

    Starting another new section

     Section almost completed

    We've reseeded a couple of times and hopefully now that we're getting a few more showers, the grass will start to grow and cover the bare areas.

     Starting a new section while working around some buried bedrock

    As we've moved higher up the path, we've started to encounter more areas of bedrock. Most of this is just below the ground surface and can be removed with a crowbar or sledgehammer if it's in the way of the path. Dealing with bedrock adds an extra layer of complexity to the process of building a path, as well as substantially increasing the level of exertion required.

     Approaching the bedrock outcrop

    One notable section was a large outcrop higher up the path. Generally, exposed bedrock like this is much harder and more difficult to break. Since bedrock becomes slippery when wet, many people try to avoid walking on it, which causes more erosion in the area... exposing more bedrock, etc, etc. So rather than stopping the path at the foot of the outcrop, we continued around it until a weaker section was found that could be chipped out to form the new path line.

    Continuing around the bedrock outcrop

    The new path line works really well and we're also leaving access to the exposed bedrock section alongside the path for the more adventurous mountain bikers to descend.
  • Starting repairs at Boredale Hause

    19:41 03 June 2018
    By Ade Mills, Pete Entwistle, Leo Walmsley

    It's that time of year again and work has now officially started on this years upland path repairs. Our biggest project this year is repairing both the footpath and the bridleway that lead up to Boredale Hause which is a joint project with the South Lakes upland ranger team.

    Work started towards the end of March by filling heli-bags with stone above Kirkstone Pass.

     Filling bags with stone above Kirkstone Pass

    Due to the amount of rock required for the repairs (over 380 bags), we gathered rock from a second site at the end of Grisedale valley. Both rock collection sites are a good distance from Boredale so moving the rock was a long drawn out affair. The helicopter took roughly six minutes between each drop, which is two or three times longer than the average lift.

     Moving the stone to site

    Once all the rock was in position, it was time to start on the repair work. The South Lakes team started on a lower section of the bridleway and we positioned ourselves higher up the path. All the photos are of this higher section.

     Lower Section (before)

     Lower Section (after)

    As some of the repairs are on the bridleway, the Lake District Mountain Bike association was consulted for suggestions to make the path more easily passable on bike. It was decided that any undamaged stone culverts (underground drains) would be left in place and additional stone drains would be designed so that they could be circumnavigated.

      Lower-Middle Section (before)

     Lower-Middle Section (after)

    We've only been working on the path for about two weeks at present so there's still a fair way to go, but you can see we're starting to make progress.

    Upper-Middle Section (before)

     Upper-Middle Section (after)

    To make the path easier to walk and ride on we're, as usual, trying to meander the path through the eroded area, this helps reduce the gradient and makes the step height a little lower.

    Upper Section (before)

     Upper Section (after)
  • Footpath repairs at Aira Force

    07:11 08 May 2018
    By Ade Mills, Pete Entwistle, Leo Walmsley

    Since our last post we've spent a fair amount of our time working at Aira Force, on a section of footpath above High Cascades.

    Old path

    The section of path that we've been working on had previously been repaired many years ago, but as the path was a bit "rough and ready" visitors were avoiding it which had caused the area next to the path to become eroded. This can be seen in the photograph above.

    Path before commencing the rebuild

    As the area is not very accessible, it was decided that some of the stone would be flown to site by helicopter. This was supplemented with useable stone from the original footpath and additional stone that we were able to gather from the surrounding area using our mechanical power barrow.

     Completed lower section of path

    To make the path blend in a little better, we adjusted the line to make it snake through the site rather than cut through in a straight line. The line was partially dictated by bedrock, which came to the surface at a couple of locations. To avoid having to chip away too much, we gave it a wide berth where possible.

    Working in the snow 

    Our work was hampered on a couple of occasions by heavy snow which prevented us getting over to Ullswater or making it impossible to safely move large stones around. But on days with just a light scattering of snow we continued regardless.

     Middle section after moving rock to site

    After a few weeks of work we had pretty much completed the stone path. The new path is much more user-friendly and incorporates a couple of large stone drains to shed water away and prevent damage.

     Middle section after completing the stone work

    Unfortunately, due to the pressing job of gathering stone for our upland repairs, we weren't able to complete all the landscaping work in time. So we're hoping to get a bit of time later on in the year to tidy away some of the leftover rock and reseed the area and then the new path will be looking better than ever.

    Completed top section of path
  • Natterjack Toad Night Walk at Sandscale Haws.

    07:19 30 April 2018
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    Sandscale Haws, near Barrow in Furness is an important site for the nationally scarce Natterjack Toad. At 8 pm I went on an organised Natterjack Toad walk, here, led by two National Trust rangers, Neil and Andy, on 7th April 2018.
    One of the board walks at Sandscale Haws Nature Reserve.
    A sand dune breached by a storm. The landscape is very dynamic. The dunes are often shifting and changing shape.
    Natterjack toads are nocturnal and have evolved to breed in transitory water bodies. The name 'natterjack' is derived from the loud mating calls made by the males. The jack (or toad) that chatters!
    Sandscale Haws.
    One of the pools at Sandscale Haws where the toads were in fine voice. The males' mating calls can be heard up to a mile away on a still night!
    Searching the area by torchlight for toads...
    Success! A young male is seen. Note the distinctive yellow band running along its back. 

    I enjoyed my experience at Sandscale Haws and this was in no small part due to the knowledge and enthusiasm of the two N.T rangers Neil and Andy who led the walk.

    FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CLICK ON THIS LINK BELOW.

    Sandscale Haws website

    Below is an impressive video of a Natterjack in full cry!

    Natterjack Calling