Team news for May 2013

  • Learning to be a Ranger

    09:00 31 May 2013
    By John Atkinson, Nick Petrie, Paul Kear , Richard Tanner, Rob Clarke, Glenn Bailey, Sarah Anderson, Sam Stalker, Ian Griffiths, Matthew Allmark, Stuart Graham, Paul Farrington, John Moffat, Craig Hutchinson, Clair Payne, Luke Sherwen

    Posing for a team photo - not a bad place to be working!
     Hello! We’re Stuart, Leila and Kimberley, the three new Ranger Interns at the South Lakes Property. We’re based at Boon Crag, and are living in a lovely little cottage 10 minutes’ walk away.

    We’re coming to the end of our third week, and have had lots of information thrown at us and met lots of new people. So far we’ve, had a 2 day tour of the property (which wasn’t as much fun for the slightly travel sick member of the group), done fencing, walling, strimming, worked with the South Lakes Conservation Volunteer Group, been on a First Aid course and a Fire Safety Course, and a lot of admin type stuff in between!

    Throughout the course of the next 8 months we’ll be working mainly with the Hawkshead, Coniston and Woodland Rangers, as well as getting experience with the Upland Footpath Rangers, and helping out on Fun Fridays at Wray Castle and weekend patrols.

    We’re looking forward to the next 8 months here, and getting stuck into all the roles of a South Lakes Ranger. Look out for us and don’t be afraid to come say hello!

    post by Kim

  • Working Holidays are great fun, come and give it a go!

    19:58 30 May 2013
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    Working Holiday May 2013

    Ever wanted to Wake up in a beautiful location, and enjoy a fun-packed day doing exciting conservation activities, and make great new friends in the process with one of our working holidays.

    Well this is what these guys did. Taking part and getting active on one of our working holidays. Fun packed week with twists and turns but a fantastic experience, learning about this part of the Lake District, doing some great conservation work and getting a chance to have a go and enjoy a brilliant outdoor activity.

    Fantastic hard working team
    The week was spent on a project at Allan Bank Cumbria. Opened to the public for the first time ever in March 2012, Allan Bank is a place to relax in front of a warm fire with a cup of tea while the children play. Once home to William Wordsworth and National Trust founder Canon Rawnsley, Allan Bank was rescued from the ravages of fire in 2011. The house is partially restored and undecorated, the grounds and gardens are under going restoration work by our volunteers and Rangers.
    Allan Bank
    The project for the week was to clear and prepare a large area of the garden ready for grass seeding. This area is quite visible to our visitors as they approach the house. Trees have been removed from the crag behind; rhododendron and Laurel had encroached this area of the garden making it unusable.
    Leafs, roots, logs and waste all have to be cleared by the team
    Bonfire to burn some of the vegetation
    The team started by raking and collecting leafs, cutting out old Rhododendron root systems and picking though the soil to remove stones and rocks. This area of the garden had become overgrown with Rhodos and laurels trees which had also grown up against the chapel.
    Relics of the past were found

    Iron fence
    Not only had it become over grown and deserted but throughout the houses life this area may have been used as a dumping ground. Fences, bottles, tiles and much more was unearthed as we preped the site.
    More fencing
    A little help was needed
    Wheelbarrows to the ready
    Front line work
    Once the stones, roots and leafs have been collected or chopped back it was time to gently turn over the soil ready for grass seeding.
    Preparing the seed

    Area covered with Rye grass seed

    Seeds being sown
    We use a fast growing Rye grass seed mix which will germinate and establish relatively quick. This will help stabilise the banking and slow down weed growth. This type of seed sowing will also allow us to add wild flowers species and native bulbs in the future.
    Finished area, we just need sunshine and showers; shouldn't be to hard in the Lakes

    Proud team of volunteers who worked very hard 
    Our holidays are not just about great conservation work. The week is also about trying new activities and getting your feet wet. With the help of Tower Wood Outdoor Eduction Centre we are able to let the group try something new in the shape of water sports.
    Tower wood on the shores of Windermere
    Theres nothing like bobbing about on the water using various water crafts, the day was warm, dry and clear which was a perfect combination to to have fun and view the Lake District fells from a different prospective.
    Loz, one of the fantastic Outdoor instructors
    Canadian Canoes, Kayaks, fun boats were all on the menu for the team to have a go and experience something new. With the great weather and the back drop of the fells it made a fantastic day.
    Experiencing new activities

    Canadian canoe, the traditionalist choice

    Clear skies with Fair Field in the back ground

    Great Fun

    Fast moving on the open water
    Time to take in the views
    Getting the hang of it
    The Volunteers had a fantastic day with  Loz and the Tower Wood team. The Volunteers left having a great adventure but ultimately trying a new sport  which we hope they may try again.
    A huge thank you goes to Loz and all at Tower Wood for providing the expertise, equipments and jaw dropping facilities.
    Tower Wood Outdoor Education Centre which is set in 12 magnificent acres of lawns and woodland, extending from the beautiful Edwardian house down to the eastern shore of Windermere. The site looks across the Lake to the high fells of the Lake District and has an enviable and easily accessible position.
    The centre has over 40 years’ experience of delivering safe, high quality, outdoor adventure experiences for all. With its wonderful facilities, Tower Wood can offer a wide range of land and water based activities.

    Please click the link if your require any further information about  Tower Wood Outdoor Education Centre 

    Tower Wood  Face Book page

    If you have been enthused about our working holidays blog and want to know more please click Working Holidays 

  • Calling all young adventurers

    18:12 28 May 2013
    By Maurice Pankhurst, Mark Astley, Jack Deane, Paul Delaney, Andy Warner , Daniel Simpson, Jessie Binns, Geoff Medd, Joe Cornforth

    Sunday June 2nd 

    Buttermere Mini Adventures Day


    Come see us in Buttermere on Sunday, we'll be in the field beside the Cafe in the village centre all ready to go from 10.00 a.m , you can take part in some of our 50 things to do,including tree climbing, orienteering, den building, the excitement of rope swings, and many many more fun and interesting activities.

    The day will follow a circular trail through woodlands and along the lake shore where you will meet National Trust staff who are there to help if you need them but the fun is all yours to have!! we'll also have a climbing wall and some Zorbs to finish of your fun adventures in our wonderful Buttermere countryside.

    We'll be there waiting and happy to see you come rain or shine!! bring your wellies to splash in some mud and wear clothes that you won't mind getting dirty!!

  • Moth Trapping event cancelled

    08:30 28 May 2013
    By Jo Day

    Due to the horrible weather conditions forecast, we are having to cancel our moth trapping event on the 29th May.  We will be having another one later in the year on the 7th Aug
  • One fine May morning

    21:27 25 May 2013
    By Tom Burditt

    Today was a beautiful Saturday morning  in May, the kind from a song: warm and sunny, blue skies, birdsong and apple blossom.

    At 9 o’clock though I get a phonecall from Martin our tenant farmer in Silverdale to say that it looks like last night someone had been along the footpath across the Lots and smashed up all the gates. As a result, the fields are no longer stockproof, so the sheep that are in there grazing could get out at any moment. Martin is going down to move the sheep to a more secure location, but I pop down too with my family to take a look at what has gone on.

    It is a bemusing contrast – an idyllic and sleepy scene with the carpets of Green-winged orchids set against a Bay and Sky of endless blue...

    ...and the pointless brutality of the gates. I had expected to see them broken, but in fact they are simply completely missing – the hinges from which they have been wrenched hanging empty and sad. I can’t begin to fathom why – they aren’t dumped in a corner somewhere nearby; I look for signs of a campfire on which they might have provided fuel but can’t see anythinig (it is Bank Holiday weekend after all, and this area is a very popular camping destination, both licit and illicit). So someone has used a huge amount of force to remove them, and then taken them with them. It seems more than the high spirits of A Level students.

    Grazing animals are completely essential to maintaining our landscapes and wildlife; and it takes careful thought, timing and stocking (and deep care for the animals themselves) on the part of the farmer to get it just right. Here on the Lots early spring grazing ensures that the orchids don’t get swamped out by long grasses or invading trees and scrub. Most of our wildflowers survive on soils where there are very few nutrients (nutrients just favour the growth of coarser things like nettles, thistles and tough grasses) – and grazing also ensures that what nutriment the soil does contain goes into fattening lambs as they grow rather than staying on site.

    The real custodians of the countryside, on The Lots

    But the animals do need to be allowed to get on and do their job without disturbance...and even in a sleepy place like little Silverdale they are often not left in peace. People wrenching off gates on a drunken night out is one end of the most cases problems and stressed farm animals are caused by visitors' thoughtlessness or just not understanding the impacts of actions: leaving gates open can have a big effect if it means the sheep end up on the High Street, or going over a cliff. Uncollected dog poo can cause pregnant ewes or heifers to miscarry. Many a family pet can turn wolf when faced with something to chase and no lead to hold them back with often catastrophic effects on young livestock...

    Having said that, we do also suffer occasional bouts of sheer devilment: signs and fingerposts get pulled down, padlocks glued up; and on one occasion a whole flock of sheep appeared to have been moved by someone through a locked gate, just for the ‘fun’ of it. How and why they did it completely beats us. (Sometimes there can be unexpected explanations: last year we got quite upset that someone was stealing the plastic markers off our new orienteering course at Sizergh, only for mobile phone footage to be sent in by a visitor showing the cows levering them off with their tongues and swallowing them down whole).

    We’re trying to use signs to help our visitors to know when livestock are around; and to ask them (you) to behave courteously and sympathetically when they are. The animals are doing their best to keep our special places looking at their very best...treating them with a bit of respect seems a small price to pay for such beautiful scenery.

  • A tale of a log and a hammock.

    14:55 22 May 2013
    By Roy Henderson

    This last week, I’ve been working with more of our fantastic volunteers.  This time it was a local Cumbrian group who come and work with me twice a year.  We worked on the open-air site (the amphitheatre) beside the shop.

    They made serious inroads into some time-consuming tasks.  The section of tree trunk that is being used in the amphitheatre has some fire damage and that needs to be cleared off so that it can be used as seating.  We’ve tried a few methods to do that and it seems that a good old chisel might be the best answer because we do want the trunk to retain its natural appearance.

    This little area is rapidly becoming an informal multi-purpose area.  It was used as an outdoor office one fine day recently when I met with one of my volunteers to discuss a project.  We usually have those meetings in our Trust offices in Borrowdale but the amphitheatre was a very agreeable alternative.  And I could carry on chiselling the tree trunk!

    Later in the week, I went over to the Buttermere area to help out a fellow ranger Mark with a new walk.  He was taking out a school group that included a wheel-chair user.  I was able to borrow a wheel-chair from the Calvert Trust which specialises in providing outdoor experiences to those with impaired mobility.

    In this case, the user was an inspiring young woman who was determined to walk if she possibly could.  She used the wheelchair only over particularly rough ground or on steep slopes.  Where necessary the chair was roped up and members of her group hauled it.  It was a good day.  Good to see different ways that my colleagues work and good to see how the group worked together so that everyone could have a great day enjoying the outdoors.

    It’s Daisy:

    I like hammocks.  You jump in and out and in and out and in and out ...!   Roy doesn’t like hammocks when I’m jumping in and out. 
  • The American Invader! Spraying the Skunk Cabbage on The Island at Elterwater.

    09:24 22 May 2013
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    American Skunk Cabbage increasingly dominant.

    The invasive American skunk cabbage at Elterwater, particularly on the island, has become even more widespread.

    In spite of the efforts of two of the Central and East Lakes Rangers last year, it is still spreading, and threatening to overwhelm the reed beds and native plants in this SSSI designated area.

    Digging out the smaller cabbages and destroying the seed pods of older specimens is not sufficient to control the spread of skunk cabbage. (see Blog on..... Elterwater's Biodiversity under Threat?)
    A canoe, kindly lent by James Archer..Area Ranger based at St. Catherine's, was the ideal means to transport the chemicals and equipment to the island.
    Spraying the skunk cabbage is probably the only realistic means of getting the situation under some control. Jen Aldous from South Cumbria's Rivers Trust, and three Central and East Lakes Rangers combined forces to deal with the skunk cabbage.

    For once, the weather was good, and the job could go ahead.
    Jen, busy mixing and measuring the chemicals to be used in the sprayers. James is assembling a sprayer in the background.

    A close up of the spray in action.
    James taking on a skunk cabbage. Many fallen trees and low branches made access very difficult, especially wearing bulky, heavy back pack sprayers.
    Jen in the midst of a fairly big stand of skunk cabbage.
    Had to include an image of Godzilla from last year. The size 10 chain saw boot looks tiny and indicates how large this skunk cabbage is.

    With Thanks to Jen Aldous, Invasive Non Native Species Officer...South Cumbria Rivers Trust..., for all her invaluable help in tackling the major infestation of skunk cabbage at Elterwater. Please see link to South Cumbria Rivers Trust web page.

    American Skunk Cabbage is still a popular garden plant. Unfortunately it easily escapes into the wild where it causes major harm to eco systems, especially near rivers and lakes.
  • Mountain Festival preparations

    15:29 17 May 2013
    By Roy Henderson

    This weekend throughout Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Keswick Mountain Festival is taking place and there will be many activities at Crow Park (opposite Theatre by the Lake beside Derwentwater).  The park is managed by the National Trust so we will be heavily involved.  If you visit, you will be able to choose from “Fifty Things to Do” including tree-climbing, wild art and making mud pies.  You will also find other contributors to the festival who will be organising different activities.

    My contribution will be to offer an introductory level navigation activity.  With the help of Rebecca, who is a Trust intern, I have set out a course for a stand-alone trail from the park to Friars Crag and back through Cockshott Woods.  Becky took on the task of producing the trail leaflets and signs.  You can just pick up one of those trail leaflets and head off or I will be on hand if you want some help or advice.

    By the time you have completed the trail, you will have gained some experience in the two key areas of navigation – in which direction and how far do you need to walk?  You will learn something about compass work, hand-railing (following a natural feature in the landscape) plus the timing and pacing of fifty metres.  These will be fun to learn now and might be very useful in future.

    Hi, it’s Daisy here.

    I’m losing my teeth.  I’ve got two sets of canines at the moment.  Is this normal?  Roy seems to think it is.

  • The return of the Red Squirrel

    09:00 17 May 2013
    By John Atkinson, Nick Petrie, Paul Kear , Richard Tanner, Rob Clarke, Glenn Bailey, Sarah Anderson, Sam Stalker, Ian Griffiths, Matthew Allmark, Stuart Graham, Paul Farrington, John Moffat, Craig Hutchinson, Clair Payne, Luke Sherwen

    We are very lucky up here at the Basecamp to have so much wildlife on our doorstep. As I write this, looking out of the office window, I can see a red squirrel nibbling its way through the contents of our squirrel feeder… Since putting out this feeder, we have seen a large increase in red squirrel activity up here. Some days we can see 3 at a time…

    A Red Squirrel chomping away on some Monkey Nuts 
    Red squirrels have seen a major decline over recent years in the UK. This is mostly due to the introduction of the North American grey squirrel. They were brought here in 1876 for ornamental display in the grounds of stately homes. According to Red Squirrels Northern England (RSNE), a red squirrel conservation partnership across the North of England, the UK’s red squirrel population has fallen from 3.5 million to 120,000 since greys were first introduced. In 1930, it became illegal to release a grey squirrel into the wild once the extent of the damage to our own native red squirrel population was realised… So we are mega chuffed that they are beginning to make a comeback!

    Why are grey squirrels a threat to red squirrels?

    Grey squirrels have managed to dominate for a number of reasons. They are a carrier of the ‘Squirrelpox virus’, which is harmful to red squirrels. Grey squirrels can also live in denser populations than reds (up to 15 per hectare, compared to a red squirrel habitat of 2 -3 per hectare – that’s the size of a football pitch!). So as you might expect, this reduces the food supply all round, leaving our own native reds to starve and allowing greys to take over…

    So how can you tell the difference between a red and a grey squirrel?

    There are a few notable differences to keep an eye out for. Reds have tufts on their ears most of the year round (apart from a small period of moulting in late summer) whilst greys do not. Their tails are always one colour, compared to the multiple colours on a grey squirrel’s tail. Red squirrels are notably smaller than grey squirrels. Red squirrels have a head and body length of 19-23cm compared to a grey’s 25-30cm.

    Coat colour is not always the best indicator as colour can vary geographically and squirrels moult twice a year making distinguishing them difficult. The RSNE would love for you to report your red squirrel sightings on their website. See details below.

    Having a playful time around the Ash pollard in the Basecamp grounds… spot the red climbing up the tree!

    We think it is great that we have more red squirrels around here. We have plans to film our red squirrels and find out more about what they get up to! Our facebook page is always being updated with the exploits of our red squirrels, so be sure to ‘like us’ to find out more! Search for High Wray Basecamp and Bunkhouse NT on Facebook.

    You can also find out more about red squirrels on the Red Squirrels Northern England website:

  • Footpath repair video

    07:01 16 May 2013
    By Ade Mills, Pete Entwistle, Leo Walmsley

    Check out this great new video that was filmed last summer while we were working up on Helm Crag. It nicely explains how and why we do our upland path work.

  • Volunteers help combat erosion damage to popular Millerground Footpath.

    15:38 10 May 2013
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    Heavily eroded section of the lake shore,starting to undercut the footpath at Millerground. 

    With the help of a keen group of volunteers, the N.T Central and East Lakes Rangers at St Catherine's continue to repair  flood and storm damaged areas of Millerground in order to safeguard the popular lake shore footpath that runs alongside Windermere.

    Millerground is one of the very few public access points on the east shore of Windermere, most of which is privately owned.
    A large cavity has formed under the exposed roots of an old beech tree that is threatening to undercut the ground below the path above.
    Kate and Janet filling the void with a mixture of stone and lake gravel.

    Frank working on the trench that will form the base for the foundation stones.
    Foundation stones placed at an angle into the trench.
    Pitching stone at an angle to form a breakwater for when the lake levels are high.
    A mixture of small stone and gravel for packing into the pitched stone.

    Kate pitching stone in and around the tree roots of the old beech tree. Fiddly!

    Sophie bringing in more stone for the revetment work. A large quantity of stone is needed for even a small area of pitching.  All very labour intensive!

     The revetment. Looks good, and a lot stronger than the crumbling bank it is now protecting!

    A nice close up of the pitching work.

    The Volunteers with the power barrow on the path above.

    Many Thanks to the volunteers for all their enthusiasm and hard work over the two very wet days of the 8th and 9th of May 2013.................... We enjoyed working with you.
  • The return of the Yorkshire team.

    10:58 07 May 2013
    By Roy Henderson

    Last week saw the annual visit of a group of regional volunteers from Yorkshire.  I’ve now been working with this group for 15 years.  Some of them have been coming for several years now and it’s great to see them again and also to welcome new faces.  These are people who are experienced team-workers with a wide range of skills that they have developed working in different Trust properties.  Add some time from my local experienced volunteers and a huge amount of work is completed in a couple of days.

    On Day 1 we worked on the eastern shores of the lake clearing the pathway of debris left behind as the higher water levels of winter begin to fall. We also did a bit of dry-stone walling either side of a gap in a wall that allows us access with machinery when we need it.

     On Day 2 we moved into Cockshott Wood and continued with the clearing of the pathway there.  If we don’t do this maintenance regularly, the pathway will quickly become overgrown and all the hard work to make it accessible for all will be wasted.  If you walk a well-maintained National Trust path, there’s a good chance that volunteers play a big part in keeping it in good condition.  They really do deserve huge thanks from us all – they do sterling work.

    Elsewhere in the week, the Mountain Rescue team has been very busy with call-outs to several incidents.  Overall, these have involved working with two air-ambulances, two Sea-King helicopters and another rescue team.

    It’s Daisy again.
    If I sleep on his jacket, he won’t forget me.

  • Owl Cam

    14:56 05 May 2013
    By Jo Day

    Owl Cam Star photo by James Axe
    We’ve had an owl box sited for a few years now and have evicted numerous grey squirrels from it in the past, but it came as an enormous surprise to us when Ross our academy ranger noted a birds tail occupying it.  After climbing a nearby tree to get a better look we discovered our new tenant was non other than a tawny owl.  It wasn’t until Tuesday night when I was down on the site natterjacking that I could get a peek inside the box without the female about.  There intermingled at the bottom were 3 fluffy grey babies!  The female would have been there for 30 days incubating the eggs and the chicks will be there a further 35-39 days.  They looked only a few days old, therefore I jumped to it and have installed a camera on the tree opposite to hopefully get some footage of our new family growing up.  It seems though that since my initial viewing of our little ones there only appears to be 2 surviving.
    Over the next few weeks I will post some of our highlights, starting with this great scene of a not so cunning fox…

  • Big Kids Building Dams to Save our Soils

    13:18 03 May 2013
    By John Atkinson, Nick Petrie, Paul Kear , Richard Tanner, Rob Clarke, Glenn Bailey, Sarah Anderson, Sam Stalker, Ian Griffiths, Matthew Allmark, Stuart Graham, Paul Farrington, John Moffat, Craig Hutchinson, Clair Payne, Luke Sherwen

    Over the last few months I have been involved in a partnership working project with Cumbria Wildlife Trust and Lake District National Park Authority. The project was based around Blea Moss in Little Langdale and its focus was to reduce the erosion and drying out of the peat on the mosses. Blea Moss is an important bog habitat and in particular for Bog orchids, Marsh Club Moss and Oblong leaved Sundew, so it is a worthy site for a helping hand.

    Stone dam to act as a silt trap and slow down the water.
    The project is covering peat erosion on both the moss area and the surrounding footpaths and is being worked on by a number of groups and organisations including our own National Trust basecamp team and the Upland Footpath team with volunteering students from Kendal College.

    Alec hard at work building a dam from larch boarding.
    There has been a week of volunteering on the project and on Monday I was there with Stuart and the South Lakes Conservation group, we had a great day, making lots of Dams and getting pretty wet in the process. Dam building seemed to be a popular task for our volunteers to sign up to, I wonder why? Possibly because it gave us all a chance to be big kids and build dams.. Whatever the motivation of all those that came, it was a very successful day with lots achieved.

    How many big kids does it take to supervise?

    The rest of this week there has been volunteer days from the Lake District National Park volunteers and from Cumbria Wildlife Trust, the dam phase of the project is almost complete. What a week of work, and we were lucky with the weather too!
  • A path for everyone.

    10:41 01 May 2013
    By Roy Henderson

    Regular readers of the blog will know about the ongoing project to create an access-for-all path along the western shore of Derwentwater.  I’ve been working on this piece by piece for at least 20 years now.

    Last week I made a visit with a group of people whose concern is accessibility for those with disabilities.   John Crosbie, who for many years was Centre Director of the Lake District Calvert Trust (experts in the provision of outdoor activities for people with disabilities), was keen for them to see the latest developments on the path.

    This is a project where everyone wins.  What was once a 20 metre wide and often muddy path now has a good surface and is little more than a metre wide.  This encourages walkers to stay on the path and protects the surrounding vegetation.  It also allows wheelchair-users, pram-pushers and other limited mobility users to enjoy a beautiful lakeside location.

    In order to make part of the path accessible to all, we had to construct a board-walk.  I’ve mentioned before that we used recycled plastic ‘boards’ for this.  They have a textured, non-slip surface and should last longer than the wooden boards we recently replaced.  For anyone who might be concerned about using plastic in a landscape like this, when we were installing the board-walk, a frequent question from passing walkers was, “What do you use to treat the wood?”  The longest stretch we have installed is about 300 metres across wet-land.  If you visit, you will see that it is much less visually intrusive than a spreading path.

    This was one of those occasions where there was an opportunity to step back from the details of a project and see the overall achievement to date.  We know that the Calvert Trust and similar users can now access an increasing amount of the lake shore.  Not only is that very satisfying but it motivates us to continue the work along the opposite shore of the lake.  And it reflects a founding principle of the National Trust that it will act for ever, for everybody – we do need to look after the landscape but also make it as accessible as possible to as many as possible.

    Hi, it's Daisy here.
     I've had lots of friends to stay and I've learned all about lambs and sheep. You are allowed to look at them from a distance.  But you must not try and play with them.  I don't want to play with them anyway.

    Pictures of two of my friends