Team news for August 2012

  • A 50 Things Summer!

    19:30 31 August 2012
    By Jo Day

    I’ve just been looking at the calendar trying to remember all the things that we have got up to over August and I can’t quite believe how much we fitted in!  There was hardly a day that went by where we didn’t have an event. 
    We’ve had Scout groups and Youth groups volunteering with us, as well as guided walks and kids activities.  To end the month we also had BBC Countryfile filming our Sand Sculpture event with James Wong taking part (watch us Sunday 9th September).  Don’t worry we have taken lots of photos of everything…see if you can see yourself!

    Exploring the underwater world of our stream
    Seeing new things on our Beach Events Day
    Giving James Wong a run for his money on our Sand sculpture event
    Catching shrimps might be easier with a net during our estuary dip!
    The Junior Wardens lending a hand beach cleaning
     On the 18th August a number of the Rangers from the South East Cumbria and Morecambe Bay Property gatecrashed the All England Stone Skimming Championships at Fell Foot.  We ran 24 things from the "50 things to do before you are 11 3/4" campaign.  This included things like snail racing, kite making and flying and a nature walk at night time.  The smiling faces from these photos show its success.  Well done team!

    Nearing the finish on one of the many snail races that day.
    Flying a kite you've made yourself is always more fun even if you have to run with it!
    Fireman (Ranger) Sam proving you can light a fire with out matches.
    Roasting marshmellows on their fires and the most popular activity...eating it afterwards!
  • A red ribbon day

    09:00 31 August 2012
    By John Atkinson, Nick Petrie, Paul Kear , Richard Tanner, Rob Clarke, Glenn Bailey, Sarah Anderson, Sam Stalker, Ian Griffiths, Matthew Allmark, Stuart Graham, John Moffat, Craig Hutchinson, Clair Payne, Luke Sherwen

    As regular readers of our blog will know already, our rangers team and volunteer groups have been doing a lot of work this year improving access between Wray Castle and Lake Windermere's western shore. Last week, as part of a celebratory bike ride, we had a V.S.P. (very small person), called Leo cut the red ribbon to open up a 2.5km stretch of greatly improved track suitable for all through our land on the western shore of Windermere.
    Leo (aged 4!) doing the honours for us, with a little help from his friends.

    The bikers arrive - now where's the cafe!
    We've been using National Trust funds as well as a variety of grants and donations - much of them tied in with the development of Wray Castle as a visitor attraction this year. However, in February we were approached by staff of the National Park to see if we could use £80,000 to make a transformational step forward. We said yes!

    The work was planned by our Rangers working to a brief given by GoLakes with the goal to attract a new audience to visit the less busy side of the lake by foot, bike or even pram - and travel there and back by boat. Our contractors did a great job - and it is working; we're getting lots of people doing simple activities for the first time.

    The money has come from the 'GoLakes' partnership in the Lake District and is funded by the Department of Transport. The Trust is heavily involved in this exciting project - a one-off chance to really make a difference to sustainable transport in the middle of the Lakes, both in terms of changing how people think as well as physical improvements to infrastructure.

    Here are some reminder photos from earlier blogs about this access work ...
    Blog post  - 'New Ranger at Work'

    Blog post - 'Once More unto the Shore ....'
    We are working on a number of other projects with the same partnership - all aimed at reducing carbon and environmental impact and opening up new opportunities for our visitors. Watch out for more results in the future.

    Post by John Moffat & Linda
    Cycling Photos Osprey Communications
  • Force Crag revisited

    08:11 31 August 2012
    By Roy Henderson

    I had another of my regular visits to Force Crag Mine last week   It’s becoming a very familiar site for me now that the mine project up there is beginning to gather a bit of pace.  This time I was visiting the site with some of our partners in the project - the Environment Agency, Coal Authority and environmental consultants Atkins together with Natural England’s geologist.  We were outlining our proposals regarding the mine-water treatment plant.  As with any form of ‘development’ on protected Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), we need the consent of Natural England before any work can be carried out.  It’s important that any developments do not damage the qualities for which a site has been designated SSSI. Force Crag Mine is listed as part of a Geological Conservation Review (GCR) site because of its national importance for the study of the formation of associated minerals (paragenesis). It lies entirely within the Buttermere Fells SSSI.

    This time we were discussing in particular the discharge from the mine level just above the mine buildings where a few weeks back we installed a temporary flume.  Here water is still getting around the flume and washing away the bank which supports the water gauge tank and ideally we need to be removing all the water away from this channel to prevent any further erosion.  One possibility is to use the concrete cloth that is used by the Coal Authority for a temporary solution on many sites where temporary drainage is needed.  As a bonus I discovered a new variety of waxcap at the site  - really nice with a distinct purple tinge to the gills and a glutinous slimy cap together with some earth tongues, another form of rare fungus that looks like black matchsticks -  so all in all quite a nice day!
  • Romans by the Rivers

    13:58 30 August 2012
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    It’s July and national archaeology month so it’s back to Galava for a bit more consolidation, to preserve the site for future archaeologists and everyone else. This year the plan is to finish the consolidation of the Roman walls and upgrade the presentation of some previous work for a consistent look to the site. 

    The site before work.

    And the bit to be grassed over.

    First remove the turf…

    Then clear the soil away…

    A Find!

    Using the soil and turf to improve the presentation of some earlier consolidation.

    A wall ready for consolidation.

    Stone and lime mortar are introduced to the wall to preserve the roman work for the future.

    A nice bit of consolidation.

    All Done (for this year)

    Ray Gregory
    Windermere & Troutbeck
  • National Trust Working Holiday on Helm Crag

    13:06 29 August 2012
    By Ade Mills, Pete Entwistle, Leo Walmsley

    We recently took a break from working on the stone pitched path at Helm Crag as we were joined by a National Trust working holiday group. They were here for a week, coming to help us out with our footpath repairs.

    As part of our repair work on Helm Crag we identified a section, leading up towards the summit, that we'd been keeping a close eye on for many years that had steadily been deteriorating. The path would have been difficult to repair with stone as it's not particularly steep, meaning there would be plenty of opportunity for people to step off the path and walk beside it.  There is also very little in the way of features, rough terrain or large rock about so it would have been difficult to landscape. This could have eventually ended up with an erosion scar (as you can see in the photo below) alongside the stone path, not ideal.

    The section before starting work

    So we decided the best option to repair the path would be to create a sub-soil path. This technique, also known as soil inversion, is an ancient technique that dates back as far as Roman times.

    Starting work on the path

    Firstly we had to select the best route to take with the new path. The path will zig-zag up the hill crossing the original (eroded) path line. We have to snake the path like this to reduce the gradient which will mean once we've created the new surface the chance of it becoming mobile is greatly reduced. It will also make the path easier to walk on.

    Removing the turfs

    With the route decided, the first job was to remove the turfs from the line of the path and place them to one side so that we could use them later.

    Digging off the topsoil

    With this done, the next job was to dig off the topsoil, again this was placed to one side as it would also be needed later. This dark layer, rich in humus (organic matter), varied in depth, but beneath it was a layer of compacted red sub-soil. The idea is to remove this compacted soil, put the topsoil back on the path and then put the sub-soil on top of it. This new surface is much more hard wearing and compacts down well, creating a more sustainable surface.

    Digging the drain

    Next a side drain was created on the top side of the path. This would catch any water that runs down the hill, and shed it away from the new path. Much of the drain went through areas of bedrock, so this all had to be chipped out with crowbars to make sure the drain would sit well below the surface of the path.

    Freshly turfed drain and completed path

    Once the drain was dug out, it was lined with turfs using the grass that had been originally dug off. This turf lining will provide a protective layer and prevent the soil in the drain from being washed out.

    A wet finish to the week

    There was plenty of showers throughout the week and the last day proved to be a particularly wet one. But the volunteers did a wonderful job, and the rain was at least useful to check that our new drains were working. This type of work is so labour intensive and so it's great to get more people involved, it really is a fantastic example of "many hands make light work". Thanks!
  • Red Squirrel spotted in Wasdale

    09:03 24 August 2012
    By Richard Newman

    I dropped into the property office in Wasdale valley yesterday and while I was there a Red Squirrel was sitting on the bird feeders. So I sneaked out to my camera in the truck and took some pictures of it. It did not mind me taking the photos it stayed around for 5 minutes only 5 metres in front of me. One of my favourite wildlife experiences of the year.Red Squirrel outside the Lodge office in Wasdale

  • Going Batty

    09:00 24 August 2012
    By John Atkinson, Nick Petrie, Paul Kear , Richard Tanner, Rob Clarke, Glenn Bailey, Sarah Anderson, Sam Stalker, Ian Griffiths, Matthew Allmark, Stuart Graham, John Moffat, Craig Hutchinson, Clair Payne, Luke Sherwen

    This weekend is European Bat Weekend so I thought I would post about these fascinating furry flyers.

    Bats are the only mammals that can truely fly (unlike flying squirells who just glide from tree to tree).  Contry to Hollywood myth they won't suck your blood or get tangled in your hair.  Most bats emerge just after sunset to hunt flying insects, a pipestrelle can eat up to 3000 midges in one night!

    Pipestrelle on the wing.

    Bats hunt using echolocation, they 'shout' and sound is reflected from the environment, this allows the bats to fly and hunt in complete darkness.  Most humans can't hear these shouts (some children can) but bat detectors can be used to listen to bats in flight - often a bat detector is the best way to identify different species.  

     Pipestrelle on a fence  - resting after eating a massive moth!

    Echolocation is incredibly accurate, Brown long eared bats pick spiders and bugs off leaves and bark in woodland.  

    The landscape here in the South Lakes is perfect for bats, a good mixture of lakes, rivers, hedgerows, meadows and woodland provide good habitat and plenty of food. 
    Bats often form maternity roosts where they raise their young.  Holes and cavities in old trees are perfect though they often share our houses with us. 

    Alder tree with cavity- perfect for roosting bats.

    I am lucky to share my loft with a Pipestrelle maternity roost of about 80 females, I think they like the loft as it stays nice and warm, you can see a row of bat faces peering from the apex of the roof in the photo below.

    Pipestrelle bats peering from their roost.

    An evening stroll at Tarn Hows or Wray Castle and Wray Bay should allow you to see bats in flight, still warm evenings are best as it means there will be loads of midges - not great for you but good for the bats! 


    Woodland Ranger

  • The Rescuers Return….

    10:42 17 August 2012
    By Maurice Pankhurst, Mark Astley, Jack Deane, Paul Delaney, Andy Warner , Daniel Simpson, Jessie Binns, Geoff Medd, Joe Cornforth

    Since the heroic day when Rangers Paul and Dan with the help of volunteers Jim, David and Mr T (Theo the dog) managed to rescue the boat from the willow tree and return it to dry land. They have been working hard on repairing the path along the lakeshore at Loweswater.  

    Whilst Phil was still enjoying the sunnier climates of Kos and David was busy sharpening his panel saw. Paul, Dan and Jim started to make good progress with resurfacing the Loweswater lakeshore path using quarry waste which the forestry team had already kindly delivered. But, the following week all three of them were pleased to see the return of Phil and David, which made the task of shovelling the quarry waste into the power barrow much easier.

    Volunteers Jim, David and Phil help Paul to fill the power barrow
    Once the power barrow was full to its capacity, the quarry waste was carefully transported along the path to the sections which needed resurfacing. Although a photo was found of Phil using the power barrow in the correct method, no photographic evidence could be located when the power barrow was accidentally tipped over!

    David directs Phil on where to tip the quarry waste
    After the quarry waste was deposited along the path, the material was smoothed out and any larger stones were removed so the path could be compacted down. With the quarry waste running low the next task was to create two stone drains to allow water to flow off the path and into the lake.

    As Jim was away for this task, teams were selected with Paul being paired with Phil and David being partnered with Dan so both teams having one experienced drain maker with one less knowledgeable drain maker but still as enthusiastic. Both teams knew where their drains would be located so the first task was to clear a trench across the path.

    Dan clearing a drain
    Paul and Phil preparing their stone drain
    Luckily suitable stone had already been selected from various locations across the North Lakes property and brought to the site! This meant the side stones could quickly be put into place and wedged as well as any gaps packed with smaller stones so the side stones were firmly in place.   

    Phil makes sure the side stones are firmly in place

    The next job was to line the bottom of the channel with stones that would fit tightly between the side stones. Then a finally a splash plate was located at the end of the drain to prevent further erosion. The following two photos so the completed stone drains.  

    David and Dan's drain

    Paul and Phil's drain

    Due to the good supply of stone available no conflicts occurred between the two teams and two credible drains were created! Further resurfacing will occur when quarry waste is transported to the site.  
  • On the road

    09:30 17 August 2012
    By John Atkinson, Nick Petrie, Paul Kear , Rob Clarke, Glenn Bailey, Sarah Anderson, Sam Stalker, Ian Griffiths, Matthew Allmark, Stuart Graham, John Moffat, Craig Hutchinson, Clair Payne, Luke Sherwen

    Whilst many National Trust colleagues work at one or two sites during the visitor season our  Recruiter Rangers Colin and Ian (normally found helping visitors at Tarn Hows) get around more than most! Here's Colin's year so far 'on the road' ...

    Durng the Spring and Summer the Countryside Rangers and I hit the road and get involved with our country shows.

    The display at Coniston Show
     The diversity in the type of shows we attend keeps us all motivated and engaged, from country-themed Coniston show, to food-orientated Country Fest and seasonal Damson Day. In previous years we have attended over 30 shows during a season ranging from events such as vintage steam rallies, to marathons and sheep dog trials. Some of the highlights so far this year have included Holker Garden’s three day festival where we endured wind and rain on the Friday to glorious June sunshine on the Sunday. Always a popular and busy show it’s important for us to be involved, support the show and reach the public.

    Ranger Colin enjoying the sun at Holker
    Even though so far this summer has mostly brought rain, rain and a bit more rain it doesn’t dampen our spirits. We are still excited to take our Trust van around the area. With the colourful flags, informative leaflets and strong presence we aim to meet the public, maybe with a Ranger colleague demonstrating some traditional greenwood craft or countryside skill and helping to explain our part in helping conserve the Lakes.

    Our colourful pop ups and flags at Holker
    greenwood skills demo
    Our ranger Richard demonstrating his greenwood working skills
    The National Trust is about much more than just 'stately homes'. In the Lake District we own many traditional farms (let out to tenant farmers) and around 25% of the land in the National Park. By encouraging as many people as possible to join the National Trust we can ensure the funds that mean our work can continue (and as members they get free entry at all National Trust properties and car parks).
    jumping at Hawkshead show
    A previous Hawkshead show and sunny too!
     So don’t let this rainy summer dampen your spirits, our next outing is our 'local' show, the Hawkshead Agricultural Show on Tuesday 21st August. These shows are a great part of the farming tradition and the kids love the animals - come and visit us there.

    post  | Colin Roving Recruiter
    photos | Colin & Hawkshead Show
  • 50 things to do before you are 11¾

    07:18 17 August 2012
    By Roy Henderson

    Some time ago I mentioned the Trust’s campaign 50 things to do before you are 11¾.  This is a campaign to encourage people to try 50 simple but very enjoyable outdoor activities.  You can read more about those here.   You can even enter a competition here to suggest your ideas about good things to add to the list.  If you are in the Keswick area before the end of August, you can go to the National Trust yurt near the boat landings at Derwentwater between 10 am and 3 pm where you can pick up a free leaflet for a trail that includes 11 of the things on the list.

    The Yurt

    You can also learn how to light a fire without matches; collect wild food for fish and squirrels; build a den; hire a canoe; use free wi-fi and take advantage of a special offer on Trust membership.  You might even want to go twice to fit it all in!

    Last week the Trust held a popular woodland event.  Foresters were on hand to demonstrate tree surgery and tree climbing.  A few intrepid visitors were able to try supervised tree climbing.

    We also had a demonstration of charcoal-making and other traditional woodland crafts and skills.  

    Even though the forests are ‘wild’, there is still a lot of work to be done to keep them healthy and thriving.

    Towards the end of the week I had a ‘back to school’ experience with a training session about the use of electronic media to extend our communication about what we do.  This is something that the Trust is actively developing in as many ways as possible – this blog being one of them of course.  At the end of the day I took Ben, who had been our trainer, out onto Derwentwater for a canoe trip.  It’s a great way to wind down after a busy working day and the weather was perfect.  It’s also a great trip out for Reiver!

  • Fun and Fungi at Wray Castle

    11:40 13 August 2012
    By John Atkinson, Nick Petrie, Paul Kear , Rob Clarke, Glenn Bailey, Sarah Anderson, Sam Stalker, Ian Griffiths, Matthew Allmark, Stuart Graham, John Moffat, Craig Hutchinson, Clair Payne, Luke Sherwen

    Well what a great week we have just had, the sun has been shining and we have had some great events and some great visitors.

    Countryfile visited
    Last Friday we were visited by the cameras from the BBC Countryfile team who were filming in the area  looking at the varied and interesting life of Beatrix Potter. Beatrix as well as writing the famous small books was also a very distinguished painter of fungi and lichens which she studied scientifically. John Malley one of our National Trust colleagues and keen amateur naturalist spent an afternoon with "Countryfile's" Julia Bradbury looking for and identifying fungi in the grounds of Wray Castle.

    John gets his instructions

    At first we thought John  was planning a bit of shopping or perhaps a picnic but he said he brought his foraging basket with a few samples he had picked that morning just in case we couldn't find anything. He needn't have bothered as walking in Beatrix's footsteps round the grounds of Wray Castle we soon found some brightly coloured fungi in the grass.

    John and Julia getting a closer look
    Checking with the book John identifies the fungi as Wax Caps and even finds a drawing by Beatrix of the species.

    The film crew also visited our newest farm tenants who had just taken on the tenancy of one of the farms Beatrix left to the National Trust near Hawshead. Beatrix was very keen to support the small family farms in the area and bought them with the proceeds from her book sales to save them from development. Julia and the team were keen to meet up with the family in their new home. If you want to check out all the action tune in to BBC 1 this Sunday the 19th and hopefully all will be revealed

    Fun Friday got into boat building
    While all this was going on some of the other Rangers were busy at Wray Castle getting involved with the Victorian weekend and promoting the "50 Things" campaign, which is encouraging children to get outside and in touch with the countryside. This time we thought we'd go 'industrial' and get into boat building with scraps from the joiners shop. The idea went down well and there were over 300 boats built of various designs and complexity and we even had a mini regatta on the lake with modifications made to improve stability.

    Luke and Matt assisting the budding Brunells
    Lets hope the sun keeps shining for the rest of the month and we get to enjoy a late summer.

    John Atkinson
  • Advancing up the Helm Crag path

    10:45 10 August 2012
    By Ade Mills, Pete Entwistle, Leo Walmsley

    Since our last blog post we've been steadily advancing higher up the path at Helm Crag. Most of us have started work on fresh sections of path as we've joined up with the person working above. The photo below shows Pete just after starting on a new bit of pitching.

    Shortly after starting a new section

    After just over a week he's moved further up the path and Nic (who was working below) has joined up to where Pete started. The original path went through the soil on the right hand side. By taking this different route some of the gradient has been removed, meaning that the steps don't need to be as narrow or high. This makes the path much easier to walk down.

    Joined up sections of path

    In the following photograph Pete has almost joined up to the section above and is starting to put in a stone drain. The section above starts roughly next to the rucksack on the wall.

    Approaching the next section

    The next photograph shows some of the old path running alongside the wall, you can see how the path is angled which makes it difficult to walk down. When the path is wet or if gravel gets on to the path it can make a descent even more awkward.

    The old path

    The photograph below is the same section of path as that in the previous photo and nicely demonstrates the contrasting styles between the old and new footpaths.

    The newly built path

    The same section of path can be seen below after just over a weeks work. Again, the new path has more bends in it than the original path. As well as making it easier to walk on, it also makes the path much more pleasing to look at as it winds up the fell side. Once the surplus rock is removed and the area has been re-seeded there will be a dramatic difference in how the path looks.
    Adding some more bends
  • Making a difference.

    16:28 09 August 2012
    By Roy Henderson

    Just occasionally my job presents some exasperating situations.  I’ve had two separate irresponsible camp and fire sites this last week and have had to go and tidy up the ensuing mess.  If I find out about these as they are happening, I go along to talk to the people who are having their parties about the damage and potential danger of what they are doing.  They are a tiny minority of our visitors but their activities can do and have done in the past some serious, long-term damage especially if a wild fire takes hold.  We also have those who just walk away leaving behind an unsightly mess of litter, empty cans, broken bottles even tents and sleeping bags.

    From this ...

    This time one of the sites was in Great Wood.  A woodland fire causes the obvious visual scarring and destroys wildlife habitats but worst is that it can be years before regeneration takes place.  That’s a big price to pay for a thoughtless camp-fire in the wrong place.  Coincidentally, Keswick Mountain Rescue Team had a recent lecture from the Cumbria Fire Service about handling wild fires – Rescue Team and Trust Rangers, will all turn out to assist the Fire Service with fighting wild fires.

    ...via this ...

    ... to this ...

    The second site was at Grange in Borrowdale by the river – a very popular and beautiful place to sit.  It’s difficult to understand why people would make the effort to come to such a beautiful place and would then trash it so that others can’t fully enjoy it, but it happens.  Unfortunately, there are now tents etc. on the market that are so cheap, they are treated as disposable.

    ... and this.

    It is frustrating to have to go out to clear up these sites but the pay-off is restoring them to the beauty that is typical of the Lake District.

    On a more positive note, I am currently making progress with a plan to hold a wild swimming event with a difference.  A Trust archaeologist is hoping to be available to be the ‘difference’.  Swimmers will swim across to Lord Island where there will be an archaeological walk and talk.  We will then swim back.  Watch the blog for more details when they are available.

  • My island for a week

    18:59 03 August 2012
    By Roy Henderson

    It’s been an unusual week since I last posted.  I have been acting as guardian of the house on Derwent Isle while the tenants were away. 
    One of the island's resident guardians.

    Derwent Isle is an island in Derwentwater that was owned by the monks of Fountains Abbey in North Yorkshire during the mediaeval period.  Then Henry VIII suppressed the monasteries and it became a royal estate.  In 1569, it was purchased to be used as quarters for German miners brought in to extract ores from the Goldscope mine.  The present house dates from 1780, when an eccentric banker, Joseph Pocklington, made his home on the island.  He had the house and several follies built.  His druids circle no longer exists but a boat-house chapel and a cannon emplacement survive.  One of his many eccentricities was to drape himself in an Admiral’s gold braid and mount an annual defense of the island against a mock attack by hired locals!

    Reiver relaxing.

    Eventually Henry Marshall, a wealthy Yorkshire textile baron, became the owner in 1844. He added two wings to the house, giving it the Italianate style it has today. The Marshall family supported the establishment of the National Trust. The three founders - Sir Robert Hunter, Octavia Hill and Canon Hardwicke Rawnsely - were frequent guests. In 1951, Henry's grandson gave the property to the Trust.

    The view from the house.

    Jan once spent a summer there as the caretaker so we know the house well and are able to find stop-cocks, fuse boxes, oil supply taps etc. should the need arise.With the permission of the tenants, our WellChild visitors plus some members of the Mountain Rescue Team had made the trip over to the island. Not all the rescue team members were able to go because we did not want to overwhelm the children so a separate trip and BBQ were organised for the remaining rescue team members.  I was also able to take some friends from Hong Kong on a quick guided tour of the island – they are unlikely to be in the country for any of the open days.

    The ripples are exciting ...

    ... the engine is exciting ...

    ... it was all good.

    Temporary residence on the island was a great experience but I did realise that it would not be something I would want to be permanent.  The house, the island, the views are superb but the isolation is something that would not suit me.  For the short period we were there, setting out to work in the morning by taking the boat on a gentle journey across the lake was a highlight – lots of wildlife and even ‘wild swimmers’ to be seen.  (Wild swimming is becoming increasingly popular in recent years and I will soon be planning a wild swimming event so watch for details about that).  

    En route to work.

    The morning rush hour!
    I suspect that the daily commute would be less enjoyable in the cold, wet, windy winter!