Team news for December 2011

  • Derwentwater and Friars Crag

    09:03 23 December 2011
    By Roy Henderson

    In this final approach to the Christmas period, we have focused our attention on ensuring that the Friars Crag area is at its best.  Every year large numbers of both visitors and locals make the walk from town, along the lake shore and down to the viewpoint at Friars Crag so we have made sure the path surfaces are in good condition. 

    You can download a Trust guide to the walk here:

    Often we are asked for advice about star-gazing or sunset-watching.  Friars Crag is ideal for both.  It is well away from any street lighting which makes it ideal for star-gazing on clear nights and, viewed from the new seating, the sunsets reflected in the lake can be breath-taking.

    On a clear day there are spectacular views along Derwentwater and beyond the Jaws of Borrowdale.  It seems strange now to think that, before travelling in the Lake District became fashionable in the Victorian era, this was considered to be a forbidding or even terrifying vista.  Now it is one of the most popular places to visit.  Its beauty has inspired countless thousands including Ruskin and Canon Rawnsley, one of the Trust’s founders.

    With the new seating installed as part of the Derwentwater Foreshore Project, I’m expecting even more people taking advantage of those.  The turkey sandwiches are bound to taste good when the views are this good!

    If/when you visit Friars Crag, remember to take your camera.  It is a very rare day when it would not be possible to take good pictures – even if it is raining!  
  • Merry Christmas

    20:14 20 December 2011
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder

    This will be our final post for this year. We look forward to a busy 2012, and will continue to share news and stories from the National Trust Rangers.
    Christmas is a great time to enjoy the Lakes with family and friends, especially after eating all the fine food and turkey.

    We wish all our readers a Merry Christmas and all the best for the New Year.
    Ho Ho Ho!
  • LDNP Young Rangers

    14:04 14 December 2011
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder

    With the support of United Utilities, the LDNPA has set up a young ranger programme to help develop the kind of skills, knowledge, confidence and passion to care for the Lake District’s special landscape.

    “The roles involve giving the youngsters opportunities every month to learn and to take responsibility for their actions in a safe and supportive environment in a variety of tasks,” said national park volunteer co-ordinator Tim Duckmanton.

    On Saturday the 3rd December the Young Rangers came to Grasmere to spend a day with the National Trusts Area Ranger (Neil Winder).

    The day was spent working at Burtharlyp Howe in Grasmere, cutting back Beech regen and creating habitat piles, and understanding why we carry out such work and its advantages to the wildlife and the surrounding views.

    The young Rangers got an insight into the work of the National Trusts Ranger service and what it’s like working for the Trust.
    The whole day was fantastic, achieving a lot of work but also time to talk and ask questions.

     Plenty of Fun
    The Young Rangers learned that there is always time for fun when working in the countryside but mostly that the work we do is important for wildlife and visitors.
  • Let it Rain

    08:29 09 December 2011
    By Maurice Pankhurst, Jack Deane, Paul Delaney, Andy Warner , Daniel Simpson

    Always been a bit of a Clapton fan - and you've got to admit the jangly guitar solo at the end is pure class. However, let it rain takes on a whole new significance when you work in the wettest valley in England. In many respects the Lake District is a tamed landscape, influenced by a thousand years of settlement. Every so often however, nature takes back over, reminding us that we might think we have everything under control, whereas in reality all it takes is a combination of thawing snow and heavy rain to realise that essentially this is still a wild land at the mercy of uncontrollable elements. In such weather the easiest of pastimes morph into fabulous adventures, a swirling cacophony of sounds and sights that quickly overload the senses. Just before Christmas we drove unsuspectingly up the Ashness Road and this is what we found...

    Such big becks however, can be incredibly damaging, so then we had to check the obvious features, such as bridges, that were most at risk, and then wait to see what else was reported over the next few weeks

    Whilst we were out and about we took the opportunity to make sure the new water heck at Honister was functioning properly. Essentially a heck is a fence crossing a beck. In normal
    weather it helps in managing livestock, keeping them out of places where they do not need to be. When we have a big beck situation, the hecks have to rise to let the water flow. As that flow decreases so the heck gradually falls back into position. It gave Jack and Robert and Rod great satisfaction to see that their heck (see how personal it gets?) was working to perfection.
  • Replacing the bridge at Tongue Gill

    11:29 08 December 2011
    By Ade Mills, Pete Entwistle, Leo Walmsley

    With our upland path repair work finished for this year, our work has now shifted focus onto estate work around the Central and Eastern Lakes property. Our first job was replacing the bridge over Tongue Gill, just outside Grasmere. Although the bridge had been condemned a while ago, we had a few problems in getting hold of all the materials. Since the bridge isn't on the official right-of-way and there's another route avoiding the bridge, the delay in materials wasn't such a problem, but it was still nice to finally get started.

    The Old Bridge at Tongue Gill in need of replacing

    Once the materials arrived they were transported up to the site by the Area Ranger Neil using his Land Rover. Our job was to take down the old bridge and construct the new one. Although it may look like a giant jigsaw puzzle, there's a lot of meticulous measuring, and remeasuring, as all of the bridge parts still had to be drilled and if you don't get it spot on you can end up with a very strange looking bridge!

    The materials at the site

    Once the beams and uprights had been drilled, the next job was to remove the old uprights and hand rails from the original bridge. We decided to leave the old beams and treads where they were, so they could be used to help us get the (very heavy) replacement beams into the right place. We did this by making a number of rollers out of cut-down fence posts and used the traditional technique of levering and rolling until the beams were in position.

    The new beams spanning the gill

    The next job was to remove the rest of the old bridge and dig the new beams into position in exactly the right place. Once we were happy with the placement, the two new beams were fastened the correct distance apart by using lengths of threaded bar and three large wooden "spacers". With the beams now joined to each other it was time to start attaching the uprights and the treads. For this stage, we were assisted by Bill, one of the Estate Rangers based in Ullswater, as a couple of the Fell Rangers were unavailable to help.

    Bill on the new bridge, with the uprights and treads in position

    The final stage to complete the bridge was the addition of the hand rails. Once the bridge was finished, we erected a few sections of post and rail fencing to either side of the bridge. This was added to act as a funnel and help the local farmer herd his sheep across.

    The Finished Bridge