Team news for December 2012

  • 2012 Gallery

    23:12 27 December 2012
    By Roy Henderson

  • Reflections and thanks.

    18:40 21 December 2012
    By Roy Henderson

    So once again it is the time of year to reflect on what we have done.  This is when I realise just how much has been achieved.

    For the Trust, hundreds of metres of hedges have been laid; a new post and rail fence has been installed on Friars Crag and old fences and stiles have been repaired and maintained.  A stretch of access-for-all lake-side footpath has been resurfaced.  On-going work has been carried out at Force Crag mine – the data from the drilling rig in January will inform the development of that project.  Areas around Castlerigg Stone Circle have been re-turfed.  

    As part of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations I took part in building a bonfire on Crow Park and a beacon on Cat Bells.  

    We also carried out an archaeological type of dig to locate old drainage systems in Cockshot Wood.  I’ve been involved in activities like the wild swimming event, leading mountain navigation sessions, woodland walks and talks plus the Easter egg trail. All of this has taken place against a backdrop of routine maintenance of any aspect of the Borrowdale area.

    Taking our Wellchild visitors over to the island.
    Overall, a huge amount of work as been done, including the nicest bits where we encourage people to come and enjoy an area of the country that I love.

    Outside of work, I’ve had climbing trips to the Cairngorms and Skye; I’ve cycled in the Netherlands and Germany; I’ve cycled the Coast to Coast route twice (the second time without falling off!) and  I’ve been involved with the Mountain Rescue Team in the rescue of a number of people and some sheep.

    And it just would not have been possible to do all this without the help of hundreds of volunteers especially those of my regular team who turn out weekly in all weather and work with great commitment and unfailing humour.  I also want to mention my volunteer who makes weekly appearances to help out with my office work.  Huge thanks are due to each of them.

  • Seasons thoughts

    11:58 21 December 2012
    By Maurice Pankhurst, Mark Astley, Jack Deane, Paul Delaney, Andy Warner , Daniel Simpson, Jessie Binns, Geoff Medd, Joe Cornforth

    Have yourself a merry little Christmas.
    A very merry Christmas to all those who follow us. I hope you have enjoyed the blog, following us through our many highs and a few lows. Our job largely is to help people enjoy there visit to the marvellous countryside that we care for in the northern Lake District, and if possible to enhance their experience. So if we fix a gate, or resurface a path, it gives us satisfaction to know that we are directly making that experience more enjoyable, even if this can be quite subliminal to the user. Installing information panels like those at Friars Crag, which, incidentally, are proving very popular, is an obvious way in which we can go that little bit further to give people more of an insight into the area. But there are also more subtle ways. Try checking this out:
    So it has been a very good year for us, and we really want to thank all those people who have helped us in our achievements. All of this would be so much harder without your help.
    Let your heart be light.
    Christmas in the Lakes can be an extra special time. For me it is a time of appreciation, both of this wonderful area in which I live and work, but also of the people whom I hold dear. The District is quieter, the walking offers a bit more solitude, and the break from work allows me to draw breath, relax and re-focus. During the summer Sue, my partner, and I walked the Lake District section of the Coast to Coast walk, and it really refreshed my appreciation of this marvellously varied landscape which we call home, really brought it home to me what it is all about. The Christmas break often works the same way, and at the end of the day there is Hot Chocolate with a dash of rum, and mince pies. I like mine with a full pastry lid, which I remove, add a liberal spoonful of Cumberland Rum Butter to the pie, then squash down the lid on top. Yummee! So how do you like yours?
    From now on our troubles will be out of sight.
    Well probably not! During the summer there is always lots of emergency work where we have to react to an event, either natural or man made. Sometimes these can be really annoying, but we have to remember that in the general scheme of things they occupy a tiny proportion of our time, and are created by a tiny minority of our visitors. As always a big thank you to all the people who have helped us with these. Also specifically this year our eyes will be trained on the tree tops, for from springtime onwards we will be looking out for signs of Ash Dieback. And we will be hoping that we do not find any, but….

    And in the meantime

    … have yourselves a merry little Christmas now
  • At Xmas time...

    10:00 21 December 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

    Our blog this year has given us
    A chance to show what's what
    Explain the work we get to do
    What makes up a 'ranger's lot'

    One day it's making broomsticks
    The next day fixing paths
    Yes, work can be quite varied
    As a ranger on our patch

    The tale of the cave piano
    We helped make disappear
    Has been the most-read story
    On our rangers' blog this year
    Our posts have given an insight
    Into tasks that we have done
    Like our work at Wray Castle
    Kids (and us) have had some fun
    Now we're well into December
    And the year is nearly past
    The heartfelt  message of this post?
    "Merry Xmas - have a blast!"

    post by Linda (with apologies for the bad rhymes!)

  • Orchids of the Underworld

    13:42 20 December 2012
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    I love waxcap fungi. Their many bright colours – from brilliant red to pure white – and the variety in shapes – toadstools, coral shaped, club shaped and even tongue shaped mean they brighten up a walk at the time of year when everything else is dying back and the colour is slowly fading out of the countryside.

    Waxcap fungi like this are easy to spot.

    Seeing waxcaps (and associated club, coral, earth-tongue and spindles fungi) shows us that we are managing the land correctly without pollution or under-grazing.  Naturally we want to preserve this ancient habitat in the same way we’d look after ancient woodland and so the best way to do this is to look for them every autumn, or more specifically – survey them.

    The National Trust’s Mislet Farm near Windermere is one such place where management of the land has remained unaltered for a long time and is therefore abundant with waxcap fungi.  The fields on this farm are made even more important because they form part of the catchment area of the river Kent which is very special for its native crayfish.

    The author on a field at Mislet Farm, getting up close to a meadow waxcap. 
    Photo by John Malley.

    The perfect opportunity to get help surveying waxcaps came when the Flora of the Fells group organised a Fell Care day on the 25th October.  The aim was to get local volunteers involved in projects all around Windermere to help with protecting the water quality of the lake.

    Six willing and able volunteers signed up to my request to help survey the waxcaps and after a short training session they too were hooked by their colourful beauty.  Soon after that we headed out, clipboards in hand, to Mislet Farm and specifically to a field where I have seen them before.

    A volunteer helps with the survey, recording the numbers of fungi found.

    What we didn’t expect was a ‘red-letter’ day for the numbers we found – 2,045 to be exact!  The bits we counted above ground were in fact the fruit of the fungi, the actual fungi is really a mass of minute threads called mycelium which spread underground and absorb water and food.  Just like a fruit tree, there can be years with poor yields or there can be bumper crops depending on the weather, and today certainly showed that it had been an excellent year for these multicoloured gems.

    Parrot waxcap found on the survey, photo by David Benham

    This good news spread quickly within the NT and resident fungi expert John Malley had this to say: 
    “We didn’t realise we had such a ‘hotspot’ and as a result of this volunteer survey a detailed assessment must be done to find the scale of importance for the site.  It is regionally important, and could even be nationally or internationally important - from the high numbers found it is certainly ‘up there’. 
    The value of these colourful ‘jelly babies of the grassland’ are often overlooked and yet are just as important as your orchid species if not more so.

    The NT already looks after one of the best sites in Europe for waxcaps at the Longshaw Estate in the Peak District.  I will be enlisting the help of experts and volunteers next Autumn to get the NT farms around Windermere ‘on the map’ for their national importance too.

    To find out more here are some good internet links:

    Ben Knipe
    Woodland Ranger
    Central & East Lakes
  • A finished fencing project.

    17:10 14 December 2012
    By Roy Henderson

    We have finally finished all the new post and rail fencing on Friars Crag and once again I was with my volunteers who have done another sterling job. 

    A well-earned rest!
    The fence is already beginning to weather and blend into its surroundings.  Friars Crag is one of those places where you often have unexpected encounters.  This time it was Simon Jenkins, the Chair of the National Trust who was visiting while we were working on the fence.  It was good for the volunteers and for me to receive positive feedback from him.

    I’ve now started work on a new project with a group of people who use Stoney Croft Gill for scrambling activities. We are working towards a voluntary code of conduct for gill scrambling.  At one of the twice yearly meetings with the Borrowdale User Group and the Mountain Liaison Group, we met on site with a number of instructors and also Jamie Lund the Trust’s archaeologist.  There were fifteen of us in total who all want to move in the same direction.

    This is an initiative that is being steered by me and Pete Baron a National Park Ranger.  We will be consulting with appropriate advisers and experts when necessary.  The outcome should be a guide and code of conduct that will allow sustainable use of the Gill by local businesses and will also minimise environmental damage.

    The instructors from the activity centres will be able to work within a code of conduct that they have helped to draw up.  They will also be able to disseminate the code amongst other like-minded users.  Above all, we should have a code of use that will sustain both the activities and the environment in the long term.  Sustainable use of the outdoors is always a search for the best balance between human activities and the natural environment so collaborative meetings like these are invaluable
  • A Memorable Year

    10:00 14 December 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

    The other day I was looking through some old photos of family holidays in the Lakes and I still can't quite believe that 25ish years later I'm living and working here. 
    I have been here just over a year getting to grips with the place, meeting colleges, tenants and visitors and looking round my 'patch'.  The variety of the Trusts work in the South Lakes still surprises me from Castles to conservation, visitors to view's there's a bit of everything.

    Storms over the Old Man

    Its been a memorable year so for this blog I thought I would post a selection of pictures of my year.  There are a mix, some were taken at work, some are my own pictures.  I'll leave you to decide which is which!

      Dawn above Langdale.

    Meeting the locals Little Langdale.

    Harebells on the spoil heaps Little Langdale.

    Trusty sidekick snoozing through sunrise on Blencathra.

    Sunlight on Yew berries East Coniston woodland.

    Autumn colour South Lakes woodland.

    Clearing fallen oak trees Far Sawrey.


     Richard Tanner
    Ranger - Woodlands
  • Herringbone pitching at Aira Force

    14:25 11 December 2012
    By Ade Mills, Pete Entwistle, Leo Walmsley

    After finishing our fencing job at Stickle Ghyll we've spent much of our time repairing a section of footpath over at Aira Force. We'd already moved all the materials, by helicopter, earlier on in the year, so it was just a matter of getting ourselves and our tools to site.

    Before starting work
    Before starting work

    As you can see in the photo above, the original path has become quite badly eroded. It's also right next to a steep drop, so it was decided that we should create a new path further to the right and landscape the old path to blend in with it's surroundings.

    The first job was to move the slate from the helicopter drop site to where it was required. We used our mechanical power barrow to make things a bit easier and it wasn't long until we had enough stone to work with.

    The rock now moved to site
    The rock now moved to site

    As we wanted to be able to secure rock for any future work (and there's a lack of quality pitching stone in the area) we decided to use slate rather than stone gathered from the fell. Aira Force is also a more formal environment than our usual places of work so we thought that we'd use a slightly different technique, known as herringbone pitching, that would be more in keeping.

    The path starts taking shape
    Starting the new path

    Basically, the path is created by a series of courses (similar to that of a drystone wall), with the slate sunk depth-wise into the ground. The first course ends with the the last stone a little higher out of the ground than all the others (this will be the start of the next step). The next course ends with two stones higher, the third course has three stones higher and so on. After a while you're left with a series of triangular steps as you can see in the photograph below.

    Herringbone pitching at Aira Force
    Herringbone style pitching

    It's almost as difficult to build as it is difficult to explain, but eventually once we all started to get our heads around it, the path really started to take shape.

    Completed section of path

    The first section completed

    Once all the stone work was done it was time to start on a section of gravelled path.

    Line of the gravelled path
    The line of the new gravel path

    Firstly a tray to contain the gravel was dug out. All the soil removed was placed on the old footpath and the turf kept to one side to be used later on in landscaping the process.

    Digging out the trench
    Digging off the turf

    Once the digging was finished it was time to start gravelling. The plan was to move the gravel in our "trusty" power barrow but after prising it off the frozen ground with crowbars it decided it didn't want to start so we moved all the gravel (about 6 tonnes) by hand. This was done by a combination of carrying it in rubber trugs and dragging it onto the path in the helicopter bags that were used to fly it to site.

    Gravelling the trench
    Starting gravelling

    Eventually all the gravel was moved and and the gravel path was joined up to the stone footpath.

    Finishing gravelling
    Finishing off the gravelled path

    All that was left to do was to landscape the old path with rubble, soil, boulders and turf so that walkers would now instinctively take the new route. 
  • Frosts and snow.

    16:38 10 December 2012
    By Roy Henderson

    This week I’ve made two school visits.  The first was to Borrowdale school to discuss their plan to adopt Watendlath orchard as part of the Trust’s Guardianship scheme.  The second was into Threlkeld school where they are planning to use Polar Exploration as a theme.    As part of that we are going to be doing a number of days out and about so there will be more on the blog eventually.  These organised visits with Trust rangers are meant to encourage children of all ages to have fun as they learn about nature and hopefully develop a life-long love of their environment. 

    Hedge-laying at High Snab Farm is still ongoing – my volunteers are becoming very skilled at that and we are making great progress.  The work on the Friars Crag riven oak fencing is also making good progress.

    It won’t surprise you to read that we have had huge amounts of rain here recently.  Although that it is not unusual for the Lakes, John Malley and I had to go up to Force Crag to slightly realign the flume so that it is still in the best position to divert excess water.

    Winter is now setting in and we have had some hard frosts and significant snow-falls at higher levels.  The skiers are finding plenty to keep them happy.  On clear days it is all looking magical.

  • International Mountain Day- Celebrating Mountain Life

    10:04 07 December 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

    Sunset over the Langdales
    As an Upland Ranger I love being out and about in the Lake District Mountains.  Whether it’s for work or play they offer us green spaces full of challenge and nature.  Yet sometimes it is easily forgotten how important mountainous areas are to sustainable development on a global scale.   

    The 'Office'!
    Mountains cover 27% of the earth’s land area, with 17% of the worlds population (that’s 1.2 BILLION people) living in a mountainous region or on the fringes.  United Nations (2012) estimates they provide 60-80% of the world’s freshwater resource, which will include providing a water supply for at least half the worlds population, including for cities such as New York.  Closer to home, the Lake District is the water supply for Manchester.  They also provides us with the most important source of green energy, with hydro electricity contributing 20% of global electricity generation.

    Haweswater Reservoir
    Upland areas are also held in high regard by the people that lived in them.  For example the stone taken from the higher Langdale axe factories was considered more valuble than that taken from lower areas and mountain tops have always been considered as spiritual places.  The fact that Everest is known as the 'Holy Mother' and worshiped, futher supports this importance to the locals.  Even today people retreat into the mountains for peace and solitude. 

    Peace and quiet in our Stake Pass shed
    When looked at in this way mountainous areas are incredibly important to sustainable development on not just a global scale, but also a local scale.  They are also important indicators of global climate and potential change.  In making 11th December International Mountain Day the UN are acknowledging and raising awareness of the importance of mountains.  They believe that governments need to lead the way on ensuring these regions are managed in a holistic way, with water, biodiversity, tourism and infrastructure all taken into account, but also ensuring the local communities are at the core of any legislation.  

    Local communities are key to sustainable development
    In the UK a great example of this is the proposed management for the High Peak Moors.  By creating a draft management plan in conjunction with all the land owners, the National Trust aims to manage the area in a sustainable way that will not only benefit the upland areas but also have postive effects on areas lower down in the catchment.

    Sustainable management of the uplands has positive effects for the lowlands
    So what can we do?  Well getting out there and enjoying the mountains in a responsible manner is a good start!  Then being aware of the issues the UN are trying to raise is another, think about where your water supply comes from, how the weather locally could be affected by the mountains, the amount of carbon stored in upland bogs...we are all linked to the mountains in some way so lets appreciate them!

    Final picture is from John Atkinson, it's one of his favourites!  The weekend looks like it's going to be a good one, so get out and enjoy!

    Fleetwith Pike
    By Sarah Anderson- Ranger (Uplands)