Team news for November 2013

  • Something nice that made us smile

    15:43 30 November 2013
    By Maurice Pankhurst, Mark Astley, Jack Deane, Paul Delaney, Andy Warner , Daniel Simpson, Jessie Binns, Geoff Medd, Joe Cornforth

    Most of our blog posts deal with the day to day tasks involved in keeping our countryside in tip top condition, occasionally we have some fun and occasionally we even touch some hearts!
    A few weeks ago we took some children from Ennerdale Primary School on a very wet and windy hike up Rannerdale Knotts, on the day we were impressed by the positive attitudes of the children who smiled and laughed all day despite the horrendous conditions, how lovely therefore for us to receive some letters  thanking us for being there with them, definitely worth sharing their thoughts on what was a truly fantastic day

    Thanks kids, let's do it again real soon!
  • Buried Treasure

    10:00 29 November 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

    This week it is the turn of the Upland Ranger team to write this blog.

    At this time of year we are working mostly in lower level countryside, rather than up in the fells, and in recent weeks much of our time has been spent on a project at Moss Eccles Tarn. This is a picturesque glacial mountain tarn which was enlarged by the construction of a small dam and is situated not far from the village of Near Sawrey.
    Moss Eccles Tarn
    Beatrix Potter bought Moss Eccles Tarn in 1913 the same year she married local solicitor William Heelis. They kept a boat there and it became a favourite place for them to spend time in the evenings:
    ‘ William and I fished ( at least I rowed ) till darkness; coming down the lane about eleven. It was lovely on the tarn, not a breath of wind……’
    It is also reputed to have provided inspiration for "The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher".

    Moss Eccles Tarn is a special place for wildlife today and is valued in particular for the wide range of aquatic and wetland plants and for its dragonflies and damselflies. It was bequeathed to the National Trust as part of Beatrix Potter's estate.

    The tarn is classed as a reservoir and as such falls within the scope of the 'Reservoirs Act 1975' which means that it is subject to regular inspections by an engineer. Following the most recent report, it was recommended that the dam be strengthened and the height raised.
    Moss Eccles Tarn dam before work commenced
    The work on the dam wall was completed by civil engineering contractors. Once this part was completed, work on the 'reinforcing revetment' behind the dam wall was required. This had to be raised to be consistent with the new height of the dam and strengthened with stone pitching to ensure that the dam is capable of being 'overtopped'. This was identified as a good project for the Upland Ranger team since stone pitching is a technique that we often use for upland footpath work.

    The first stage of our work involved digging out the old revetment behind the dam wall to a point where there were good foundations from which to start the new stone pitching. We also had to collect and transport several trailer loads of stone to the site for the pitching work.
    Dam wall height increased & digging out the old revetment behind this has commenced.....
    Synchronised stone collecting at Moss Rigg quarry 
    Our work behind the dam wall was divided into three sections, based on the shape of the dam wall, and our work was carried out on each one in turn.
    One section of the new stone pitching progressing towards the enhanced dam wall
    The stone pitching work carried out was very familiar territory for us. However, the specification for the work required that the part next to the dam also used concrete. This was very strange for us as we normally work purely with dry stone. In addition a geotextile fabric was used, along with soil and turf, to cover the top of the stone pitching work.
    This meant we buried our lovely stone-work - the "treasure" referred in the title for this blog.
    Geotextile fabric rolled back over a section of stone pitching with soil & turf now being added on top...
    There wasn't sufficient turf available to cover all of the work done behind the dam wall and soil and grass seed were used for the remainder. It should start to green over early next spring and hopefully this time next year it will blend nicely in with the surrounding countryside, similar to the picture before work started above.
    Our finished project... most of it now buried
    Our last day on this project was at the start of this week and Sarah baked cakes to celebrate. Sarah created the "Moss Eccles" cake which instead of currants (which she doesn't like) has a filling of cranberries and white chocolate. Delicious!
    Luke & Sarah enjoying "Moss Eccles" cakes
    Moss Eccles Tarn has been a very picturesque location to work at, although we are very lucky since we get to work in beautiful locations almost every day.

    If you would like to know more about the daily work of the South Lakes Upland Ranger team they can be found on Twitter @NTLakesFells.

    Posted by: Nick, Upland Ranger
  • Troutbeck Fencing Project with the National Park Fell Futures Apprentices.

    11:46 28 November 2013
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    The first batch of fencing  materials arriving on site.
    Recently, the St. Catherine's Rangers had the pleasure of working with the National Park Fell Futures Apprentices. In just a few days  the first phase of a big fencing project in the Troutbeck Valley on Trust farm land was completed.

    The aim is to fence off a long stretch of Troutbeck to exclude livestock; this will assist natural regeneration, reduce erosion to the riverbanks, and lessen the risk of flooding.

    Apart from the fencing work, six new gates were installed for access along the length of the new fence line.  

    Funding for the fencing materials came from Windermere Reflections.
    Distributing the fencing materials along the line of the new fence.
    Part of the Troutbeck river bank soon to be fenced off.
    The fencing work well under way with the gates and posts  awaiting installation.

    Three of the apprentices working well as a team........
    and with Trust!
    Cutting back some inconvenient thorn that was in the way.

    Tidy Job.

    The uneven ground proved challenging in places.  In the left foreground, the bottom plain wire, the stock netting and the barbed wire have been fully tensioned. Beyond the strutted strainer post, the barbed wire has been laid out on the ground, ready for tensioning or straining. From the next strainer post, the stock netting is about to be tensioned.

    Strange phenomenon at Troutbeck.......An Astral Mug!?....Weird or What!?

    Quite a distance.

    Getting the gates, posts and rails to the more inaccessible parts of the ground by means of the invaluable power barrow. Landrovers have their limitations.

    Neat post and rail job on part of the fence line.

    Using  a post hole digger.
    Lining up the gate post.

    Yet another gate further along the line ready to be fenced up to as phase 2 of the project.
    A celebratory leap after completing phase one of the fencing........who was it that said "Youth is wasted on the young"!?...............SURELY NOT!
    What a team! With all good wishes for the future from the National Trust Countryside Rangers at St Catherine's.

  • A woodland walk and some more seating.

    14:41 27 November 2013
    By Roy Henderson

    During last weekend two of my regular volunteers joined me to install another seat at the amphitheatre beside the Trust shop.  We had intended to install two but we couldn’t manage to start up the large, self-loading, powered wheel barrow.  

    These are pretty big chunks of wood to be man-handling so we only managed the one this time.  However, there is now a bit more seating where there are fantastic views over Derwentwater.

    We’ve also had a few Rangers working on the path in Cockshott Wood so there is now an accessible path around the wood for wheelchair and pram users.  The newest bits are looking a bit raw at present but in a few weeks they will have weathered in nicely.  So there’s been quite a leap forward in that project and we hope many more people will now be able to enjoy much more of the area around the shop.

    One of the nice things about walking around this path is just enjoying being in a tunnel of trees with lots of dry leaves underfoot.  It’s great fun for kids (big and little ones!) and dogs to charge around scattering them.

    Daisy here:

    Roy says it’s too cold to go in the lake but I think it’s great – a little bit cold maybe.

  • The good and the ugly.

    15:50 22 November 2013
    By Roy Henderson

    I sadly attended the funeral last week of Allan Alcock, a good friend from the Mountain Rescue team.  He had been an active member of the team since 1968.  Allan was one of the mainstays who was constantly sorting out the kit and the vehicles.  He always had a friendly word and is going to be much missed.

    In last week’s post I mentioned wild camping on the high fells and how it can be a fantastic experience when it is done well.  A good wild camp will leave behind no damage, no debris and no lasting sign that it ever happened.  It is something that we encourage.  Unfortunately that is not always what happens.

    Last weekend we had a joint working party with the National Park rangers and volunteers and one of the things we did was clear up the site shown in the pictures.  Clearly a large group had decided to party in one of the woods in Borrowdale.  They had cut down some small trees to have a fire.  They left behind all their rubbish including bottles and had even smashed some of them.  Why do that?

    Thankfully the National Park rangers and volunteers joined me in clearing it all away to return the site to a safe and clean condition for others to enjoy.  It puzzles me that people would make the effort to seek out a beautiful place and then spoil it.  It is very easy to go and enjoy a beautiful part of the countryside without wrecking it.

    Hi, it’s Daisy here.

    I’ve been for a job interview.  I’m going to be a search dog.  Well, I’ve got a lot of work to do first.  There’s lots of training to do and there’s exams you have to pass but I reckon I’ll be great.
  • A Few Highlights From My Internship

    08:29 22 November 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

    My time Ranger Intern is nearly up, Along with Leila and Stu I’ll be finishing at Christmas, with the new batch of Interns starting sometime in the new year. I’ve had a great 8 months working alongside the South Lakes Ranger team, so for this weeks blog I thought I’d share with you some of my highlights.
    A few more memorable jobs I’ve helped out on:
    ·         The Blea Tarn Fence. Working with Sam and Stuart I helped on the fence that reaches out into Blea Tarn. A tricky spot to fence in as digging the posts in wasn’t possible due to Blea Tarns SSSI status. In the end we drilled holes into big boulders and rolled them into tarn. We inserted metal poles into the holes and secured them with resin. We attached posts to the metal poles and continued to post and rail as normal. An interesting day, at the end of which we all had wet feet.
    Stuart and Sam securing the posts and rocks.

    The finished fence.

    ·         Writing a Woodland Management Grant.
    One of our Intern projects was writing a woodland management grant for the Colwith, Tilberthwaite and Little Langdale woodlands. This involved spending a few days walking around the woodland sites (brilliant days “work” for a tree hugger like myself!) looking at the species within and deciding how best to manage them, before trying to get our heads around the application form.

    Hugging the Veteran Scots Pine in the Woods Behind Blea Tarn.
    ·         Footpath Work.
    I spent 2 weeks with the Upland footpath team which I wrote about in an earlier blog. Despite the early starts and later finishes I enjoyed working with the team, learning how to pitch and landscape, and even started to enjoy the long walk to the top of the fells (mainly because I knew I could have a second breakfast when I got to the top). 

    My Completed Section of Pitch on Fairfield.
    ·         Working with Basecamp.
    It was excellent experience to get to work with basecamp, and the varied volunteers who stay there. Working on the path from the Ferry to Hill Top was a couple of great days with enthusiastic volunteers who managed to get a huge amount of work done.

    The Ferry to Hill Top Path in Progress.
    ·         And a whole load of other jobs including building a style, surveying touch me not balsam for netted carpet moths, working with the South Lakes Conservation Group, strimming and the restoration of the Monk Coniston Cold Frames.

    Standing on my Completed Style.

    The Intern House and Commute to work.
    One of the great things about this Internship is that accommodation is provided at a house in Low Yewdale. Although there have been a few issues to sort in the beginning, it really has been an experience in itself living in what feels like the middle of nowhere. The kitchen window looks straight out onto one of Bob’s field, and during the summer it took a while to get used to the cows looking straight back at you! It is the perfect base for walking or sitting and watching the world go by.
    Our House at Low Yewdale.

    Our commute to work is probably the best commute I’ll ever have, a 15 minute walk along a track, hedgerows on either side, the fells behind you and Herdwick sheep looking at you as you pass by, it’s amazing we managed to make it into the office every day!
    Our Commute to Work.
    Jed and Fin.
    I couldn’t write a reflective blog without mentioning Jed and Fin, Jed is Richard’s spaniel and Fin is Stuart’s fox terrier. A surprise to me when I first started is that sometimes, dogs come to work with their Rangers. While working with either Stuart or Richard I will admit to spending “some” of my day throwing sticks or playing tug of war. I will definitely miss incorporating fetch into my days work.

    And last but not least;
    The South Lakes Ranger Team.
    A big THANK YOU to all the Rangers for making us feel welcome, being patient, teaching us new skills, and not laughing too much when we (mainly me) asked silly questions.

    New Interns, You’ve a lot to look forward to!

    Kimberley Goodall
    Ranger Intern.
  • Cumbria National Trust Volunteers at St Catherine's.

    08:18 19 November 2013
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    On Sunday the third of November, the Cumbria National Trust Volunteers joined forces with the Ranger Team based at St Catherine's.

    The work, at St Catherine's, entailed cutting back rhododendrons and clearing away brash from trees that had been recently felled, in order to open up the views to and from the Footprint Building.

    The path up to the wood was also resurfaced with bark chippings.

    Clearing away the brash and burning up.

    Raking up leaves from the carpark. The Footprint is in the top left background.
    Loading up the power barrows for the footpath work.
     Lots achieved at St Catherine's on a wet and blustery day. Thank you "CNTV" for all your help.
  • Winter has arrived.

    18:12 15 November 2013
    By Roy Henderson

    Last weekend saw me with friends from the Rescue Team making the trip to the summit of Great Gable to join others for Remembrance Sunday.   

    There was quite a lot of snow underfoot and we walked up through cloud. 
    Daisy came with us and she enjoyed herself running around in the snow. 

    We noticed on the way down a group wild-camping at Styhead Tarn – a fantastic place to camp and done properly, they would leave no lasting impact on the site.  

    By the time we were making our way down, the cloud had cleared so a couple of guys were able to paraglide back down to Seathwaite.  What a great way to come off the hill although one of them said he was doing it for the benefit of his knees!  

    During the week I worked with Jack and Joe on continuing to bring the Cockshott Wood footpath up to an access-for-all standard.  It will take some time to complete this but we hope eventually it will be possible for wheel-chair users to start at the Trust shop, visit Friars Crag then continue along the Lake shore circling back through Cockshott  Wood. Or enjoy a quiet woodland walk around Cockshott.

    I also spent some time at Braithwaite Schoolworking with their Gardening Club.  We have levelled an area of their grounds where they are going to make a wild flower meadow this Spring and Summer.  We are planning to bring to the school a bale from one of our local farms that has good hay meadows so that we're not importing different genetic strains into the area.  It's also a lot cheaper than buying commercial seed.

    Hi, it’s Daisy here. 

    I’ve been up Gable.  I went up when I was little but Roy carried me last time.  This time I went all the way on my own.  It was great.
  • Trees + Cows = Wood Pasture

    13:07 15 November 2013
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    "Trees seldom grow old in woodland...ancient upstanding trees are an indication that a site is not an ancient wood" (Rackham 2006)

    What is Wood Pasture?

    Wood pasture is the combination of the right sort of grazing animals and widely scattered ancient trees. This definition sounds simple but there is more to it than that. By the right sort of grazing animals we mostly mean cows, and accept that some wild deer will pass through. Cows graze by using their long dextrous tongue to wrap around the vegetation and rip out clumps, which sounds less than ideal but this method produces a variety in height of vegetation and the tiny pockets of bare ground created are perfect for tree seeds to fall into and germinate. Deer browse more on young trees than they do on plants but provided their numbers don't get too high then the regeneration of trees should outweigh deer consumption. Cows may also browse on the shoots of young trees but provided the numbers are low, for example 8 spread over 50ha then plenty of young trees will grow.
    Wood pasture with its sun-loving ground plants and ancient, open-grown trees.

    What isn't Wood Pasture?

    Wood pasture is not improved farmland (made so by added fertilisers) on which sheep are grazing with large trees dotted around the fields or their edges. The definition of grazing animals around mature trees fits but this landscape is lacking in native herbs, grasses, sedges, ferns, bracken, heather, mosses, deadwood laying on the floor and wet, boggy or marshy areas, together with all the other wildlife that is associated with them. Wood Pasture is not the remnant of a woodland, it was not a closed canopy of trees that has been damaged by grazing and slowly the young trees died out leaving just a few to remain. Wood pasture, which 1000 years ago covered one-tenth of the whole of England, will soon in-fill with young trees shading out the veteran trees and forming a woodland if grazing stops. However woodland plants which spread at a glacial pace will take a very long time to colonise any new woodland.

    So What is the Difference Really?

    Wood pasture has trees from acorn to ancient and plants adapted to open sunny ground, whereas ancient woodland contains shorter lived trees but has ancient shade-adapted plants. Farmland may have veteran trees surrounded by mostly rye-grass and parkland will be similar but hopefully with young trees in guards.

    What is the Significance of Wood Pasture?

    The misconception that Britain was a long, long time ago covered wall-to-wall in trees is proved wrong by the wood pasture ecosystem. The late Francis Rose thought the same because of the native wildlife, especially lichens that existed in Britain and Europe in this particular habitat.Many birds that are considered common are most at home in the environment of wood pasture or at least in the sunnier edges of woodlands along with many insects and especially butterflies. If Britain was a vast carpet of trees then why do we have countless thousands of species adapted to, or benefitting most from the open sunny areas that are found between the trees?Those who are familiar with Franz Vera will know of his (2000) hypothesis that pre-Neolithic 'wildwood' had more in common with landscapes that can be described as savanna - which I'm sure will put a very different image in peoples minds.So the bombshell is that what we call wood pasture, or what Franz Vera called savanna could possibly be the original, and oldest ecosystem in Britain and possibly Europe since the last ice age. If we want to restore some areas of the country to what we deem 'natural' then is this it?

    The Significance of the Trees in Wood Pasture

    The trees will naturally regenerate but their numbers are kept in check by the grazing of large animals such as big hairy cows. These native trees have it good; they are not in strong competition with one-another for light or water and can in fact grow to their full potential (climate and altitude depending). These trees will be what's called open grown - their trunk will be short and fat and they will have thick branches that will spread horizontally and wide. The overall shape of the tree will be that of a dome - this is the optimum shape for placing leaves in positions to capture the most sunlight which in turn provides the tree with the materials it needs to grow. The shape is also the best for diffusing the strong winds which will push on the dome shaped crown but the power will be dissipated throughout the tree. Open grown trees develop substantial buttress roots in response to continual exposure to wind. They therefore have a greater number, diversity and mass of micro-organisms associated with the roots (Ted Green, 2010).
    An ancient open-grown oak in Gowbarrow Park SSSI.
    A tree that has naturally grown in a woodland will be taller with its less spreading branches higher up as it tries to compete with its closely positioned neighbour for light and water. These trees will live shorter lives and provide less opportunities for wildlife to benefit from them.
    Woodland or 'forest' trees grow taller, straighter with less branching lower down.
    "A single 400-year-oak...can generate a whole ecosystem...for which ten thousand 200-year-old oaks are no use at all" (Rackham 2006)
    Open grown trees found in wood pasture therefore have the opportunity to live their full lives and become veterans, so oak could live up to and beyond 900 years and ash can even have their life spans tripled by pollarding giving incredible continuity of an ecosystem. Open grown trees can therefore provide habitats to birds, bats, beetles, spiders, and lichens for several centuries longer than a woodland tree.Looking to the FutureTree experts agree that old, open grown trees are one of the most important contributions the UK can make to the biodiversity of Europe. The continuity of biodiversity over many centuries makes this habitat historically and ecologically extremely important. The National Trust in the Lake District is restoring ancient wood pasture in the Windermere and Ullswater valleys in some exciting and large scale projects starting this year.
    A few open-grown trees can still be found in Gowbarrow Park SSSI, and dead trees like this alder are just as valuable as living ones. Here sheep will be replaced by cows over 50ha to allow tree regeneration.
    The plantation in the background will be felled to create room for 12ha of new wood pasture. The site of the plantation and the foreground will give rise to open-grown trees grazed underneath by cows.

    Troutbeck Park, Glenamara Park and Gowbarrow Park SSSI are three locations where, with help from Natural England, Forestry Commission and the Lake District National Park, we are removing sheep in favour of just a small number of hardy cows and extracting nearly 12ha of dense conifer plantations to restore a vast tract of Lake District into the most important ecosystem in Europe. These projects will be the focus of future blogs so please look out for them.
    Like this Topic?
    Visit other exceptional National Trust wood pasture at Calke Abbey in Derbyshire and Hatfield Forest in Essex.
    Sources used for this blog:
    Woodlands by Oliver Rackham, 2006 HarperCollinsThe Importance of Open-grown Trees, Ted Green, British Wildlife Volume 21 number 5.
    Ben Knipe
    Woodland Ranger
  • Rebuilding a piece of history

    10:00 15 November 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

    Dry stone walls fall down all the time. They can be knocked by livestock or falling trees, disturbed by moving vehicles or damaged by people leaning on them. These structures are often hundreds of years old; standing through many historical events and witnessing the lives of people we find inspirational today. When these walls fall down, it often falls to the rangers to get them built back up again so they can continue to serve their original purpose as boundaries, to maintain the iconic image of the Lake District and to keep this traditional skill alive.

    So it was with great excitement when the call came through to say a wall in Beatrix Potter’s back garden had come down and we were the team to be given the honour of rebuilding it. How often do you get called in to repair the scenery that appears in such a renowned children’s book?

    From The Tale of Tom Kitten by Beatrix Potter (Frederick Warne and Co, 1907). You can just about see the wall we were to rebuild heading up the lane in front of Jemima Puddleduck. In a later photo you can see the lane as it looks today.
    It turned out the job was going to take longer than expected, once we took down the wall to a structurally sound level the gap was almost 4 metres wide from an original gap of maybe 1 metre. This wall has probably stood since Beatrix Potter lived in Castle Cottage, if not before, only now succumbing to many years of people leaning on the wall to take photos of the home that she shared with William Heelis after their marriage.

    Adding the last of the cams on top of the completed section. The stretch without all the moss on it is the bit we rebuilt.

    This wall in particular fell down mostly through natural wear and tear. It was bowing in odd places, suffering the cumulative damage from hawthorn tree roots, users of the track, weathering and many freezing winters. This wall is also taller than most of the dry stone walls in the South Lakes area. Beatrix was a very private lady. We speculated that she had the walls built so high to allow her to keep her privacy. Beatrix is said to have run out of a fire door she had built at the back of the cottage when she saw someone approaching the house she had no desire to speak to at that time. We were doing our bit to maintain the privacy for the residents living there today.

    Although it is hard to see, you can just about make out the ranger in red working on the wall... helping to keep the lane just like it was in Beatrix Potter's day 
     We spent 3 full days there as a team of 3, rebuilding the wall and chatting to the many visitors to the area on their way for a jaunt up to Moss Eccles Tarn. Many shared with us their stories from their visit to Hill Top and their reasons for visiting the area. Visitors come from all corners of the globe to enjoy the landscape that inspired the stories and work of this inspirational woman. I, for one, felt very proud to be rebuilding this piece of history and maintaining the view for future visitors to the area.
  • A bonfire in a downpour.

    19:33 10 November 2013
    By Roy Henderson

     We’ve had some weather this last week including a sprinkling of snow on the tops which is fantastic to see.  And of course it was the time for the bonfire celebrations.  We had it on Crow Park which is next to Derwentwater.  It is a beautiful place but, if the weather is bad, it is especially so there.  It just drives in off the lake.  But we just have to go ahead no matter what. So I was really pleased to see as many people turn up as did considering the weather.  It came in waves with not very wet followed by very wet!

    But it was great to see the people who did come along to enjoy the bonfire.

    A lot of our events are weather dependent but you just have to go ahead no matter what.  What happens of course is that the people who do turn up despite the weather intend to enjoy themselves so they do.  Those who came all seemed to have a good time.  The kids loved seeing a big fire with all the sparks flying.

    Weather wasn't so good on the clean-up day either!

    Daisy here.

    Che’s been to stay and it was great.  He said it was OK if we slept on the settee.  Roy didn’t seem to think so.
  • Building a path to recovery

    13:33 08 November 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

    How much can be achieved in two days? Well, if you have a big gang of hard working and willing volunteers – quite a lot!
    The narrow path at the start of the work
     Shardale are a residential rehabilitation centre for people recovering from alcohol abuse problems. Staying at High Wray Basecamp volunteer centre for a week they helped us to refresh two sections of the path that runs from near where the ferry comes across from Bowness to Hilltop, the home of Beatrix Potter. It’s a popular path and is the main access route used by visitors to Hilltop who come on foot, but over the years had become quite overgrown and narrow. So, as part of the Windermere Reflections project we were digging back the edges and laying a fresh coating of gravel to return the path to it’s original width and glory.

    A load of gravel arrives at the Hilltop path ....

    ... and the Ferry Hill path.
     And what a difference this has made! We were really impressed with the dedication, organisation and determination of Shardale and are very pleased with the progress on the path. It wasn't an easy job either - the digging out of the sides was difficult and generated an awful lot of turf and mud that then needed transporting to a position where we could load it onto a trailer and take it away. Then there was loading the various barrows with the gravel and getting that to the path to lay it down. Lots of walking, digging and lifting but despite many of the group finding the work quite tough everyone pulled their weight and carried on working right up until the last minute, a great effort.

    Feel the burn! One of many barrow loads of turf moved up the hill.
    Loading the trailer with turf and mud.
     It was a pleasure working with everyone and while we haven’t quite got the whole path finished the vast majority of it is done. More importantly, it’s done to a good standard so the next volunteer group we work on it with will have a good example of what we’re aiming for ….

    So if you’re in the area, or taking a walk to Hilltop yourself be sure to look down at the path under your feet. Sometimes it’s easy to take them for granted, but spare a thought for all the hard work that has gone into making both your and many other walkers’ progress that little bit easier!

    The Hilltop path team ....

    Ferry Hill team one ....

    Ferry Hill team two.

     By Rob Clarke, Basecamp community ranger

  • Footpath repairs at Allan Bank

    11:48 01 November 2013
    By Ade Mills, Pete Entwistle, Leo Walmsley

    Since finishing our upland path work for the year we've recently been working again at Allan Bank in Grasmere. We've done a lot of work there over the previous two winters creating a trail through the woodland, but there's always a few more jobs to do to keep on top of things.

    Our first job was to build some stone drains. With a gravel path there's always a risk that during heavy downpours the path could be destroyed, so to stay one step ahead we've built a series of drains to divert the rainwater away from the path.

    Drain building

    Once we'd finished our drainage work we moved on to some path building. Using the same technique as previous years, we edged the path with logs, leading up to one of the view points.

    Edging the path

    With all the logs in place it was time to start gravelling. Once all the gravel was put down we finished it off with the whacker-plate which compacts the surface making the path more durable.

    Gravelling the path

    The photograph below shows a section of path that we were working on in February, we're putting in some drains before starting resurfacing. You can see just how wet and rough the original path was.

    Working on the drainage earlier on in the year

    The next photo shows what the path looks like now, and the drains certainly seem to have done their job. We're really pleased with the results, but don't just take our word for it, next time you're in Grasmere and you've got a spare hour why not pop into Allan Bank and have a walk around the woods? While working in the woodland we were also having daily sightings of Red Squirrels, so if you've always wanted to see one but not had the fortune, Allan Bank is certainly worth a visit.

    The new path just a few months later
  • Walking on water

    10:00 01 November 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

    It seems a long time since the good weather of spring and summer now that the rainy season is really upon us.
    In spring I spent a fair amount of time helping to build a new boardwalk along the shore of Windermere to link the Trusts campsite at Low Wray with Wray Castle and the newly upgraded Windermere lakeshore bridleway.

    After so much recent rain it seemed like a good time to look back on the project.

      Finished boardwalk keeping everyone's feet dry.

    Boardwalk stats;
    • Its over 35m long and 1.8m wide
    • There are more than 300 bolts and 3500 screws holding it all together
    • We used 3.5 tons of recycled plastic to make the boardwalk.  We used plastic because it won't rot or get too slippery.
    • There are more than 140 posts, some 3m long hammered (by hand) into the ground to build the deck on.  If you added all the posts together that's more than 250m of post hammered in!
    • It took about 30 days to build with volunteers and interns helping us rangers.
    We met several problems and learned a lot of lessons during the project, firstly don't make your boardwalk curved unless you have too - its very awkward.  Second have some tall people to hammer the long posts in....
      Short ranger and long post ... 
    The answer

    Stand on a milk crate!

    Looking back all I can remember is days of hammering (or someone else hammering)

    Craig hammering with John holding the post square.

    We used a lot of posts in the ground partly to stop the boardwalk sinking in and partly to stop it floating off when the lake water rises in the winter.

    A shiny new (at the time) intern fixing the deck down.

    One disadvantage of using the plastic meant that whenever we cut pieces or drilled them we had to collect all the swarf to stop it falling into the lake.  

    Trimming the planks to length and catching the waste in a bag.

    Richard Tanner
    Woodland Ranger