Team news for October 2013

  • The Sandscale Haws Twitter Page

    10:39 30 October 2013
    By Jo Day

    Sandscale Haws is a beautiful dune habitat which supports a wealth of wildlife, with magnificent panoramic views of the Lakeland mountains. Near Barrow-in-Furness UK

    Don't miss getting the latest news from Sandscale Haws National Nature Reserve on Twitter

  • Science and history.

    10:31 30 October 2013
    By Roy Henderson

    Force Crag Mine Visit

    Force Crag mine took centre stage again last week, firstly with a school visit and then a day working with my volunteer team.  The school group was from Braithwaite School in the village situated at the foot of Coledale Valley. 

    There may have been mineral workings on Force Crag since the 16th century but significant mining began in the 1800s to extract lead and silver.  When the price of lead fell to uneconomic levels, attention turned to extracting barytes.  In the mine's final years lead, barium and zinc ores were extracted.  Eventually a collapse in the mine led to its being closed in 1990 and it was handed over to the National Trust.  The buildings and machinery remain the only complete examples of their type in the Lake District and the mine is now a Scheduled Ancient Monument that is situated in a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

    For this school visit, John Malley (the Trust’s Water Adviser) joined us.  He is the Trust’s lead officer involved in the project to develop the best strategy for dealing with the water collecting in the old mine workings.  So the children were able to learn a lot of science, especially chemistry, from him.  They also had the opportunity to go inside the building and see the machinery that was used to crush the ores and to make ‘rubbings’ of machinery labels etc. as part of a pictorial record of the site.

    It was an excellent day with one of their highlights being the wearing of hard hats to go behind locked doors where they could see the workings and experience something that the miners experienced!

    Later in the week, I returned to the site with my volunteers to do some work diverting water around the scree slopes above the mine.  This is one of those jobs where the best option is just to set to work with shovels and wheel-barrows and some hard work hand-digging to channel the water away from the screes.  This should stabilise the slope.  My great volunteers were, as ever, undaunted.

    Daisy here:Me and Roy went digging in the rain.  It was horrible, horrible.  Then we went back with the volunteers when it wasn’t raining. That was quite good.

  • Touch Me Not Balsam Site near Ferry Nab.

    09:25 28 October 2013
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    This image, taken in October 2013, is of a clearing, choked with brambles, in a small wooded area on National Trust ground next to Ferry Nab.

    It is an important site for the "Nationally Scarce" Touch me not Balsam plant; the rare Netted Carpet Moth depends upon it for survival.

    Both the plant and the moth are to be found predominantly in the Lake District, but are restricted to just a few sites.

    Touch Me Not Balsam is an annual plant; it is intolerant of competition from other plants. This bramble patch has been encroaching more and more on the Touch-Me-Not stand so it is being cut back and pulled out .

    Dealing with the brambles will also cause lots of  ground disturbance.

    Touch Me Not Balsam tends to grow very much better in disturbed ground.

    With the brambles pulled out or slashed back, many more Touch Me Not Plants should appear next Spring. In favourable conditions they form dense stands such as the one in the image below.

    Greater numbers of plants, on which the moths' caterpillars feed, should help maintain or even increase the annual moth populations.

    A good stand of Touch Me Not Balsam in July.

    Slashing back the brambles.
    Pulling out the brambles by the roots.
    The site, now almost clear of the brambles.
    Netted Carpet Moth. Mid July.

    This post will be updated next Spring with a, hopefully good, progress report.

  • Coppicing & building eco-heaps.

    20:43 25 October 2013
    By Roy Henderson

    Ancient Coppicing in Cockshott Wood

    We’ve just had the Friends of the Lake District Fell Care Day and I was working with a group of pupils aged between 8 and 11 from the feeder schools for Keswick School.  We were working in Cockshott Wood doing some coppicing.  Coppicing is a centuries-old way of managing woodland.  If trees are cut down to ground level they will send up new shoots from the stump or roots.  After a number of years, the new growth can be harvested and the cycle begins again.
    Cutting back the trees in this way allows light into the forest floor. This encourages greater diversity of both animal and plant species.  Bluebells, anemones and primroses can grow more vigorously.  Rotting wood-piles provide habitats for beetles, insects and small mammals. This in turn brings in more birds and butterflies. When the trees mature, the canopy eventually closes off the light to the woodland floor and the wood needs to be coppiced again. Ideally there will be a newly-coppiced area close by for the species to migrate to when they need to.
    So we started the cycle of creating a mosaic of different ages of coppicing.  We will also be building eco-heaps of cuttings to add variety to the habitats.
    An extra bonus to this is that we can identify individual trees that we can leave with adequate space and light to grow to full maturity in future.  There should be some excellent specimens of oak trees for following generations.  These pupils will be able to bring along their own children and grandchildren to show off the results of what they are doing now.I also had a group of students from the Lakes College who did some great work resurfacing a length of path that was cleared recently by my regular volunteers.  So we are making good progress on creating access for all around the wood.
    It was an excellent day all round and it’s a big ‘Thank you’ to everyone who took part. The children enjoyed it so much that they didn’t want to stop at the end of the day!  That’s something we hope they will carry with them throughout their lives.
    Daisy here:I’ve been running round the woods with lots of people - lots of children and they spent all day cutting sticks for me. It was great.
  • Mini Mountains Should Have Mini Mountaineers

    10:38 25 October 2013
    By Maurice Pankhurst, Mark Astley, Jack Deane, Paul Delaney, Andy Warner , Daniel Simpson, Jessie Binns, Geoff Medd, Joe Cornforth

    Normally our blogs concern our day to day practical conservation work and of course our engagement with the public, on some days however this engagement become much more closely focused, and in this case definitely a lot of fun
    We have always had connections with local schools and are keen to help get the children outdoors and closer to nature, well this week the children from Ennerdale & Kinnisde School got a wee bit closer to nature than they might have intended

    Class teacher Mrs Watson leads the juniors up a very wet Rannerdale Knotts

    On a very wet and wild Wednesday, Ranger Dan and myself, along with our guest blogger, intern Becky Ingham took 29 children aged 7-11 up Rannerdale Knotts to look at a range of subjects from glaciated valleys, NT footpath management, the water cycle and farming.

    Becky explaining the Water Cycle while Ranger Dan shows us an ancient Potash Kiln

    I’ll hand over to our guest blogger Becky to give you her impression of the day

    “As an outdoor events intern I have been able to do so much with the National Trust in the last six months and I’ve found how much I enjoy being outside whatever the weather. That definitely came in handy on Wednesday when I went out with Rangers Paul and Dan and Ennerdale School up Rannerdale Knotts

    Heading for the summit

    The weather was magnificent, in the almost blown off your feet and wet enough to make a duck think twice about going out kind of way. It definitely proved the saying that ‘there is no bad weather, just bad clothes’ as we were mostly kept dry and warm by our waterproofs. We had truly fantastic views as the clouds moved, showing us the fells and then hiding them again. At one point we could see the rain shadow hurtling towards us over Crummock Water and making the fells behind almost disappear.
    The Ennerdale kids were fantastic, as Paul said; ‘mini mountains should have mini mountaineers’ and that’s definitely what we had. I don’t think I heard a single moan about the weather, even from the littlest.

    Are we there yet?

     I hope they enjoyed learning about the footpaths that wind their way all over the fells, the Rangers who look after them and the history of that beauty spot as much as I did”

    We'd like to thank the children, teachers and parents, and of course Becky for giving Ranger Dan and I, a cracking if wet day out, looking forward to next time.

  • Ghostrider

    10:13 25 October 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

    Tales of Ghosts in the Lakes

    Beatrix Potter and Arthur Ransome wrote stories and created characters that have become part of the culture of this part of the lakes. Tales of adventures on sunny days, of breezy picnics by the lake, friendships and laughter. But some stories are much much older, these are stories of love and loss of violent actions with fatal consequence of madness, despair and death, these stories, centuries old, have been passed from generation to generation and have been around so long they are now part of the soil, the water the rocks and the air. At this time of year these stories seem somehow closer to the surface. Maybe it’s the cold still autumn mornings when the mist hangs low over the lake, deadening the background noise, allowing disembodied voices animal and human to reach out through the  enveloping grey. Maybe it was the earth tremor last night; that noise and the shaking woke me suddenly with a bright blinding light and a searing pain down my spine and I have had the mother of all headaches ever since. 

    Windermere Ferry early morning

    And this is how I start my normal daily commute into work as a  countryside Ranger on my trusty iron horse, a journey I’ve made a thousand times before, but this morning it feels somehow different, otherworldly, I have a sick feeling in my stomach and feel so damn cold. A mile along the lakeshore cutting my way through the mist , the sound of the Windermere car ferry, creaking and groaning as it pulls itself along on metal chains. I am reminded of the ferry disaster of 1597. A wedding party 45 strong returning from Far Sawrey cram themselves onto the ferry which was in those days just a large rowing boat . The outward journey in calm waters, full of laughter and merriment turned to disaster on their return as the winds picked up the wedding party high on drink but low on balance, capsized the boat and 38 people drowned . The biggest loss of life that this lake has seen. Since then people have reported seeing faces in these murky waters and swimmers have felt hands grabbing their ankles trying to drag them under to join the wedding party. These are probably just reflections and submerged weeds, but his morning through the mist the buoys that surround the islands look eerily like floating lifeless bodies .

    Sawrey Church

    Onward and up ferry hill to the church at Far Sawrey, the late flowering devils bit scabious scattered on the grassy road verges. Chattering crows gather on the wall watching me pass by like they’re waiting for  something to happen. Through the Sawreys and along the side of Esthwaite Water this is always the coldest part of the ride in, this morning it is icy cold I look out across the water towards the Devils Gallop. In medieval times when Hawkshead was the main market town in south Lakeland the packhorse men would spur the horses on double-quick along this lonely stretch of road trying to keep one step ahead of old nick. Through the mists I hear the sound of hooves and a sudden snort of some large hidden beast on the other side of the hedge gets the adrenaline racing and I put my foot down on the pedals just that bit faster.

    Approaching Priests Pot, a small circular tarn on the edge of Hawkshead village past the site of the gibbet . This was an upright wooden post with a projecting arm for hanging the bodies of executed criminals. A bit like a giant bird feeder, it acted as a blunt warning to the packhorse men approaching the village, with its 14 public houses, to behave themselves when they got paid or as a reminder as they were leaving that they may have got away with it this time but next time they might not be as lucky. Riding through the village the speed camera on the corner shouts 13 at me in bright red numbers (why is it always 13) is it trying to tell me something? 

    Riding out of the village my nerves on edge not warming up at all I look to my right to Latterbarrow and Claife Heights my thoughts inevitably stray to the Crier of Claife the ghost that has haunted the Heights since they were the property of Furness Abbey. There was apparently a house of ill repute on Claife heights where women would provide ‘refreshment ‘ to the weary packhorse men.  A young monk sent by the Abbey to save these women from a life of sin, fell in love with one of them, but his advances were spurned and the rejection eventually sent him mad, he died love lorn and lost on the heights. His restless spirit wandered the heights for years wailing into the night. One foggy winters evening the ferry men based at Ferry Nab heard a desperate call from across the lake, “ferryman , ferry man" The ferryman set off into the mist  a single lamp on the prow of the boat lighting the way. After some considerable time the boat eventually drifted back across the lake, with no passenger, no light and the ferryman wide eyed with terror, struck dumb by whatever unspeakable horror that he had witnessed. Well, that was enough for the locals and they quickly engaged two priests with ‘bell, book and candle' to exorcise the ghost’s spirit to a remote quarry on the heights. If you listen carefully some nights you can still hear strange noises probably just the screech of an owl, the cry of a fox or the bark of young stag.

    Claife Under a blood red sky

    Climbing up Hawkshead Hill ,out of the mist now the ghost of the mad monk seems to be fading, but the late rising sun offers no heat and has cast a deep bloody hue over everything, the silent ghostly figure of a barn owl sweeps low across the field to my left. It is folklore that these owls carry the souls of the recently departed I look back to see Claife under a blood red sky, and it looks most peculiar. Up ahead I can see a black figure crouched over something in the middle of the road is that a shadow or... As I get closer the figure stands up and breaks apart, exploding in ten different directions at the same time, the sound of a cape? No it’s the sound of wings flapping as a murder of carrion crows disperse into the trees above, not wanting to move too far from what was interesting them lying on the tarmac. What was interesting them is a mass of blood and bone and entrails, road kill of some description. Feeling bad enough I can’t bear to look too closely so I cycle on and the pain in my back and the cold are just getting worse. 

    I finally reach the crossroads at High Cross and now have an easy descent, freewheeling down to our Ranger base in Coniston. The base is very quiet, unusually quiet for a workday, I walk into the kitchen area and on the table lying open on pages 7 and 8 is the most recent edition of the Westmorland Gazette and my eye is drawn to a short article ‘National Trust Ranger killed in early morning traffic accident ‘gripped by a crushing fear and understanding, the cold and the pain intensify, the room starts shaking and then suddenly the pain and the cold disappear along with the colour, the light, the sound… When you are walking the paths and lanes of South Lakeland if you feel a sudden unexplained rush of wind passing by or the squealing of brakes when no bike is around to be seen , it might just be me on my way into work again...ghostrider. 

    Paul Farrington (1963-2013). National Trust Ranger, South Lakes

  • Lakes Appeal

    08:47 25 October 2013
    By Ade Mills, Pete Entwistle, Leo Walmsley

    National Trust rangers have been repairing and maintaining upland paths in the Lake District for over 25 years. To help us continue our repair work the National Trust has recently launched a new appeal.

    We need to raise a total of £300,000, so please make a donation today. With your support, we can help keep the Lake District special for future generations.
  • The Great British Walk 2013

    18:21 22 October 2013
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

     The Great British Walk-Great Langdale and Grasmere

    Discover secret places, stunning scenery, wonderful wildlife and hidden heritage by taking part in the Great British Walk 2013. There are walks for families, themed walks, heritage and wildlife walks, and suggestions for walks around our autumn gardens.

    All Walks start & finish from the Sticklebarn in Langdale LA22 9JU, GR NY 295065
    The Easedale Round, starts at Allan Bank Grasmere GR NY 333077.
    Meeting at Stickle Barn
    Meet from 9am for a 10am start. Coffees & teas available (packed Lunches available for purchase) at Sticklebarn and meet at 0930 for a 10am start at Limefitt. Refreshments will be available at Allan Bank.

    A wet weather walk option that takes us around the valley will be available if the weather is not suitable for the high level routes in Langdale.

    Stickle Barn
    Monday 28thOctober

    Stickle Tarn and Tarn Crag via Stickle Ghyll

    Distance 3.3km, total ascent 399m, total descent 399m, total walking time 2 hours. Grade: mediumwalk mainly on footpaths.

    Leaving Sticklebarn at 1000 we walk up alongside Stickle Ghyll to picturesque Stickle Tarn where we can view the Langdale Valley far below, and the lofty pikes of Pavey Ark and Harrison Stickle.
    From here we cross Stickle Ghyll and walk a short way around the tarn until we start our route back via Tarn Crag back to Sticklebarn for well-earned refreshments.  
    Stickle Tarn April 2013

    Tuesday 29thOctober

    The Langdale Pikes

    Distance 6.8km, total ascent 723m, total descent 725m, total walking time 3.5 hours. Grade: Hard steep walking in places but no exposure.

    Following a route up to Stickle Tarn we skirt the eastern edge before climbing the east side of Pavey Ark. After leaving Pavey Ark we visit Harrison Stickle and Pike of Stickle before crossing Loft Crag and ticking our 4th Wainwright of the day. We descend via Pike Howe past a couple of peat houses on the way back to Sticklebarn.

    Pavey Ark
    Wednesday 30thOctober

    Pike Of Blisco

    Distance 7.2km, total ascent  619, total descent 623m , total walking time 4 hours. Grade: Hard steep walking in places but no exposure.
    This walk takes up the valley of Oxendale and up to Red Tarn via the Browney Ghyll path. From here we make for the summit of Pike Of Blisco before descending down the path via Red Acre Gill.

    Pike Of Blisco commands a fantastic view over the hills of Great Langdale  and with it being separated from its neighbours and with a wonderfully rocky summit it gives the impression of being a proper mountain summit.

    Thursday 31stOctober

    Bowfell and Esk Pike

    Distance 15.4km, total ascent 1052m, total walking time 6.5hours. Grade Hard – steep in places but no exposure.
    We walk up The Band to the Bowfell summit for splendid views down into Langdale and over to Scafell Pike to our left. We then walk to Esk Pike (our second Wainwright) before starting our descent to Esk Hause , Angle Tarn and into Mickleden for our return to Sticklebarn.

    Friday 01stNovember

    Easedale Round from Allan Bank

    Distance 11.9km, 737m ascent, total walking time 4.5 hours. Grade Medium – no steep slopes or exposure. We leave Allan Bank to head towards Silver Howe before heading north west skirting Langdale to our left. As we reach Codale Head we start our return journey via Codale Tarn to Belles Knot and passing peaceful Easedale Tarn. We follow Sourmilk Gill down its path to Easedale and return to Allan Bank. 

    Wet Weather Option.

    Cumbria way to Elterwater.
    Distance 8km, 3hours walking time (approx) mainly level walking on Public Rights of Way (but can be wet and rough). Taking in Farming, Quarries and Woodlands and beautiful views up the Langdale Valley as we return to Sticklebarn for refreshments

    Stickle Tarn April 2013

     No need to book, just turn up at Stickle Barn Great Langdale, for more information please click the link 

  • Path Project Progress

    09:00 18 October 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

    The Upland Footpath team have recently come down from their main work in the fells and are starting their winter work programme. It is not practical to work in the fells all year round due to the shorter days and the weather can make upland work unsafe and unproductive. There is also no shortage of work that the team can help with in the lower level countryside of the South Lakes.

    Now seems like a good time to re-cap on our main upland project this year, which we recently completed.  This project was on a path from Grisedale Tarn up Fairfield and has featured in previous blogs, such as 'Itching to do some Pitching...' published in June.

    The main section of work was on a nasty erosion scar that had been developing and the solution involved constructing around 100 metres of stone 'pitched' path. There was also loads of landscaping work to do to help blend the path into the surrounding uplands and to encourage people to keep to this path.

    The sequence of photographs below, each taken from a similar location, shows the development of this section of path.
    April: Erosion Scar before work commences
    April: Stone collected from a nearby scree moved to site by helicopter

    May: Work on a few stretches of stone pitching has started

    June: Initial sections of stone pitching have joined up & work has moved higher up the fell
    July: Work continues to progress, also helped along by work parties & volunteers
    September:  Path nearing completion
    The team have enjoyed this project and are pleased with the path. The stepped stone pitching has created a sustainable path surface and is an improvement on the erosion scar which was only going to deteriorate.

    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.

    The team also recently featured in a series 'Inside the National Trust' currently on ITV. Some of our work appears in episode 1 and, at the time of writing, is still available via

    Posted by: Nick, Upland Ranger
  • Home and abroad; a tale of two lakes

    14:15 17 October 2013
    By Maurice Pankhurst, Mark Astley, Jack Deane, Paul Delaney, Andy Warner , Daniel Simpson, Jessie Binns, Geoff Medd, Joe Cornforth

    During the first couple of weeks in
    September, my wife and I were out visiting family in Canada. They are based in Toronto, and so we were able to explore some of the countryside in the region of the Great Lakes. Driving north on Highway 11, you "soon" (in Canadian terms - it is a very, very big country!) enter the fabled land of Muskoka. This is located on the southern edge of the Canadian Shield country. The terrain is very contorted , undulating rather than hilly, glacially scoured outcrops of granite and gneiss largely covered by mixed woodland, harsh, demanding, but softened by a myriad of sparkling lakes. It was the inspiration for the famed "Group of Seven" artists, and many Canadians regard it as the start of the "true" Canada, the edge of the wilderness that stretches up to Hudson Bay and the Arctic Circle. We stayed in a lovely B&B right on the shore of Fairy Lake. Here's a picture of their "dock".

    It was a truly beautiful location, made even more special by the first hints of the onset of the fall; a chilly nip in the morning air, and the subtlest change in the tint of the woodland foliage. One morning, the cold night air had fallen on the warm water of the lake, producing a shimmer of mist, a picture of transcendental loveliness. I felt very privileged as I stood on the dock trying to capture the image, but when I looked at the photo I was dismayed to see the number of other docks, each with their accompanying boathouse. And when I looked at the wider scene, I realised that almost all of the shore of that beautiful lake was in private ownership, and accessible to none but a privileged few. This much loved area has little protection beyond local authority restrictions, and it struck me as being an area that was ripe for some sort of safeguarding, maybe not National Park status, but perhaps a Provincial Park, and yet it has none.

    Then when I got home I started to wonder about our own Lake District. It has only been in the last sixty years that this other ultra special landscape has come under legislative protection. Before that our own Lakeland was in a very similar position to Muskoka. In 1902, Brandelhow Park on the western shore of Derwentwater could easily have followed down the Fairy Lake route. Instead, Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley rallied the troops in the fledgling National Trust, started the first ever National Trust appeal and managed to buy the land on behalf of the nation. Nowadays we all enjoy unfettered access to Brandelhow, one of the quietest, and most beautiful shorelines in the Lake District. Picnicking, walking, boating, a chilly dip, simple pleasures available to all, forever. How much more beautiful would Fairy Lake be if a substantial part of its' shoreline enjoyed that very same principled freedom

  • Bluffers Guide to Fungi - Part 1

    21:34 16 October 2013
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    Have you ever had that massively embarrassing moment when someone asks you "what is your favourite basidiomycete?" and you answer with orange peel fungus - only to be laughed right out of the building because you've just named a ascomycete?


    Here is my bluffers guide to fungi; how to survive a conversation with a mycologist (fungi expert) and be able to leave the room with your dignity intact.  I have tried to avoid all scientific names and technical references as these can always be looked up afterwards.

    Here we go...

    What is the difference between fungi, mushrooms and toadstools?

    Not a lot.

    Mushrooms and toadstools are both nick-names for fungi which are the classic cap-on-a-stem shape.  Mushrooms were the edible ones and toadstools the poisonous ones.

    What is a mushroom?

    What you see popping up through the ground this time of year is the fruit of the fungi; this is how it disperses its spores (seeds). Think of fungi as a massive root system, just like that of a tree except much finer. These roots can spread huge long distances underground and live for over a thousand years, with the only tell-tale that fungi are below ground is that of the fruiting bodies.

    Why are they important?

    Waste.  The earth would be a huge pile of waste if it wasn't for these little guys that break it all down into microscopic nutrients which go back into the soil and are used again by plants and trees.  Fungi will digest leaf litter, dead wood, dead bodies and dung, thank goodness. To put that into figures; a woodland the size of a football pitch will produce over 5 tonnes of waste in the form of leaves and fallen wood every year which will all be consumed by enough fungi to fill a convoy of dumper trucks.

    Some however are parasites, these like to live off living things like trees and also grubs that are below the ground.

    Why are toadstools poisonous?

    Good question.  According to Peter Marren (2012) on why they are poisonous: "There is no imaginable advantage to the mushroom being so," "it's ability to poison human beings is accidental".

    There are so many different types, how do I identify them?

    Just like with plants - where different plants will grow in different places, the same can be said with fungi.  Each different place, or habitat as it's called, will vary in the soil type, the tree species, the type of grass, and what is around to feed off.
    For example, some fungi love conifer woods, some prefer woods with native trees in, some love old grasslands, some like specific trees such as beech, some might feed off other fungi and some will be found in towns, growing up out of the pavement!  So the first thing to do is work out what habitat the fungi is in, and second what it is feeding off.

    Tip: Having more than one fungi ID book is a good idea, as one book might not have the right picture for you. Fungi look different from day to day and it all depends on when the photos were taken.

    Some types of big fungi (macrofungi)

    I'm not following the usual classification of fungi here, for the real ways to pigeon-hole them please refer to a good book.  This is merely a beginners guide.

    The wood rotters.
    Some digest dead wood, some digest living wood, and some like both! (eg honey fungus)
    Many zoned polypore. A common fungi found on deadwood.
    Beefsteak fungus.  Found on old oak trees.
    The tree partners
    These are fungi which are attached to the roots of trees. The fungi give the tree nutrients from the soil and the tree with its leaves can provide the fungi with something it cannot make itself - carbohydrates.  These fungi are called mycorrhizal fungi and they all have thier prefered type of tree to link up with. Identify the tree and it'll give you a good clue what type of fungi you're looking at.
    The birch bolette, a mycorrizal fungi found near, you guessed it, birch.
    This is a relative of the famous Fly Agaric, part of the amanita family and is found in mixed woods, meaning woods with both conifers and broadleaved trees.
    The grasslanders
    These include the colourful little gems seen growing in ancient grassland which doesn't get fertilised or ploughed and has fairly short grass, usually kept short by sheep.  These are called wax-caps.
    Other whitish coloured fungi that can be seen growing in grass often produce big cirles called fairy-rings. The mushrooms mark the extent of the underground root system.
    White spindles seen here in grass that is carefully looked after.

    The out-of-this-world types
    There are lots of fungi that don't follow the usual mushroom shape and must be in competition with each other to look like something landed on earth from space.
    The yellow brain fungus, here on an ash tree is actually feeding off another fungus found on its bark.
    Dead-mans fingers, feeding off an old beech stump usua
    Coral fungus, here in a wood of beech and oak trees.
    The insect eaters
    These can be tiny and easy to miss when walking through grass or woodland.  However some are bright orange which helps a lot.
    (Photo to come, watch this space! )

    So there you have part 1 of this light-hearted look at something that I find interesting at this time of year. If you fancy finding out more there are some great books out there including ones by Roger Phillips and Peter Marren. Look out for more photos that will be added to this blog over the next few weeks.

    Ben Knipe
    Woodland Ranger
  • Big projects moving forward.

    16:34 13 October 2013
    By Roy Henderson

    Once again I had The National Trust Regional volunteers joining me at the weekend. This is a group I work with twice a year and it was good to see them back again.  We worked in Cockshot Wood, the little wood behind the Trust shop at the lake shore.  We did some preparatory work on making accessible a section of the loop of footpath that goes around the wood.  This is an ongoing project aimed at making the whole of the path in the wood as accessible as possible for everyone.  Once it is completed, we will have opened up another stretch of path and woodland for wheelchair users, pram pushers and others with mobility difficulties to enjoy. This project is part of the National Trust’s campaign to get people “outdoors and closer to nature”.

    Next week is a Fell Care Week when lots of volunteers from Friends of the Lake District and the National Park will be joining me and other National Trust staff to carry on the project.

    During the week we had the Trust’s National Archaeological Panel visiting Force Crag Mine.  This is another ongoing project that I’ve mentioned before.  It has three parts to it.  First is to deal with the water that is discharging from the old mine.  So we now have some large diggers at work in the middle of a Scheduled Ancient Monument digging it up for the installation of settlement tanks.  It might look a bit shocking at first but all necessary consents have been granted after extensive relevant consultations including with archaeologists.  If you want to make an omelette, you have to break eggs!  In the long-term this will be beneficial for the site.

    Our second concern is the interpretation and presentation of the site.  This was the last working mine of its type in the Lake District and is the only one surviving with all its machinery in situ.   We want to be able to tell its story using ways that complement the site. Thirdly, we need to develop a plan for its future preservation. So those were the three topics for discussion with the panel.  It will be interesting to read their conclusions.

    As a backdrop to all these activities, we are moving quickly into Autumn.  The bracken and trees are changing colour day by day, the days are shortening, it is cooler and there are fewer people around.  I love the valley all year round of course but autumn colour on a cold, sunny day is spectacular.

    Daisy here,

    I’ve been mountain biking – well, running alongside Roy.  No photographs – I’m too fast.
  • The Gate to St. Catherine's.

    13:51 11 October 2013
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    The decorative cast iron gate at the main entrance to St.Catherine's.

  • Fungi season is upon us!

    08:17 11 October 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

    The Kingdom Fungi includes some of the most important organisms in terms of their ecological and economic role. They break down dead organic material, continuing the cycle of nutrients through ecosystems. Members of the fungi kingdom include yeasts and moulds as well as the familiar mushrooms.

    Tree surveys are generally carried out at this time of year, as fungi are great indicators as to the health of the tree.

    Honey fungus is the common name given to several different species of fungi (Armillaria). There are six Armillaria species found in the UK that live on dead and decaying woody material; only two of these are also able to attack living plants, killing the roots of woody and perennial plants.

    Shaggy Scalycap (Pholiota squarrosa) appears at the bases of old trees and sometimes on the stumps of felled trees - mainly broadleaf species but also occasionally conifers, notably spruces. The Shaggy Scalycap is often confused with Honey Fungus.


               Shaggy Scalpycap                                                     Honey Fungus.

    The Shaggy Inkcap or the Lawyer's Wig (Coprinus comatus) occurs in meadows, woods and roadside verges. The young fruit bodies first appear as white cylinders emerging from the ground, and then the bell-shaped caps open out.

    Edible Oyster Mushrooms are a great non-meat source of protein, rivalling beans and any other vegetable source. They vary in size, shape and colour, growing in shelf-like clusters on dead logs and living trees (primarily hardwoods, but sometimes on conifers).

                       ScalpyInkcap                                                        Oyster Mushroom

    The common name Fly Agaric (Amanita muscaria) is a reference to the tradition of using this mushroom as an insecticide. In some European countries caps of Amanita muscaria are crumbled up and placed in saucers of milk to attract house flies. The flies drink the milk, which contains toxins - they are soluble in water and hence in milk also - dissolved from within the mushroom, and the flies soon become drowsy, collapse and die (or they simply drown in their spiked milk drink).

    Fly Agaric.

  • Beavering Away

    16:52 08 October 2013
    By Maurice Pankhurst, Mark Astley, Jack Deane, Paul Delaney, Andy Warner , Daniel Simpson, Jessie Binns, Geoff Medd, Joe Cornforth

    From time to time what seems to be a simple task, becomes a bit of a challenge for Ranger Dan and myself, not such a bad thing though as it allows us to be slightly  imaginative  and change how we do things, also makes life more interesting I reckon!

    A piece of footpath maintenance at Dunthwaite was a case in point, easy enough job but access to the site is a major problem, so what do we do? well we just use what's already there!
    A steep section required some steps to make the ascent easier on the knees, these were constructed by using hazel cut from nearby coppices, easier to get at than carrying in treated timber and to my mind looks much nicer, we'd no sooner finished than we were thanked by a couple on behalf of their aged collie who apparently found it much easier, and we were amazed to then see the dog climb a custom made ramp into the back of a waiting Mercedes!!! ( Ranger Dan is now trying to source similar in order to get me in and out of the landrover more easily)

    A little bit further on, a section of post and rail fencing which prevents our visitors plummeting down a slope to the river Derwent had over the years slowly started to lean over towards the river, on inspection the timber seemed sound so  rather than rip it out and replace it we ripped it out and re sited it, standing upright and braced against the slope it should last a good while longer, and to be honest looks much better than a shiny new bit of fence in amongst the old, cheaper too which should please our accountants!

    before and after picture, not a lot different but that's the beauty of the repair

    Another opportunity to carry out a repair using only what was on site presented itself at Holme Wood in Loweswater where following a very localised storm a stream had burst it's bank deposited a huge amount of debris in the wood and washed out a considerable section of all access path.
    On another day we'd simply have got a digger in and rebuilt the bank but not this time, co-incidentally as we were in a wood there were a few trees around, and some of them right where we needed them, Ranger Dan and myself set about felling the trees so they lay across the breached banks forming a structure that we hope will catch silt and debris from future flood events and become a natural dam, and if it doesn't? well we're no worse off, the trees will coppice back up we haven't spent a fortune, happy accountants again!!
    Filling the gaps in stream banks, beaver style!

    Ranger Dan beavering away

    and there we arrive at the title of the blog, North Lakes Rangers beavering away, simples !!
  • The Best Bit

    20:16 06 October 2013
    By Roy Henderson

    Following on from the macrophyte survey last week, I’ve been across to Derwent Island again with contractors.  Standing on the island looking along the lake and down Borrowdale valley as we discussed what is to be done reminded me just how lucky I am to be working here.  I work in a superb landscape.  The job offers very diverse challenges.  Every day is different.

    I know I might be a little bit biased but, from the high fells like the top of Great End right the way through to Keswick, my area is a fantastic place to live and work. 

    On the rare occasions that it rains in the Lake District, just go and look at the waterfalls!  It’s still beautiful.

    Daisy here,

    I'm in the Keswick Reminder.  I hope no puppies are using the Keswick Reminder for what I used to use it for.

  • Daisy (and me) on TV.

    13:47 01 October 2013
    By Roy Henderson

    I can start the blog this time with some exciting news.  In the list of good links, there are some new ones. They take you to information about a new ITV series of 20 programmes that follow the work of the Trust.  The series begins on Sunday October 6that 12.25pm and Daisy will feature on a number of occasions – there might even be a space somewhere for me!

    Meanwhile, change is afoot for Derwent Island House which will soon have new tenants.  The current tenants are leaving so we are looking for new ones.  We are taking this opportunity to make some changes.  As part of that process I recently spent a very pleasant morning with John Hooson (The Trust’s Wildlife & Countryside Adviser) doing a macrophyte survey of the vegetation on the lake bed around the pipe-line that conveys the amenities to the island.  Macrophytes are aquatic plants that provide cover and food for fish and also oxygenate the water so it is important that they are not threatened. We are planning to upgrade the service pipeline so next week I’ll be back out there with our Buildings Adviser and various contractors.

    I have also been busy with the Mountain Rescue team.  We have recently been having training sessions using the newly-installed anchor points on Sharp Edge. This is an initiative that has been two years in coming to fruition.  There has been extensive consultation with the landowners, with user groups including the British Mountaineering Council, the Mountain Liaison Group, various climbing groups and also Natural England.  These anchor points are not intended for general use by walkers and climbers but are for use in mountain rescues.  They have been sited very carefully so that they do not detract from the experience of mountain users but they will make mountain rescues from the ridge or the gulley safer endeavours.  Over my years of being involved in rescues, I have seen that some of the cracks in the rock that we have used for safety anchorage have been widening and there was a real concern that soon there would be a failure that would result in an accident for the rescue team.

    On a recent joint rescue with the Langdale team, after the missing person had been found safe and well, a colleague and I continued on up the fell.  We had been searching in thick cloud with about 10 metres of visibility but at 11 pm we emerged at the summit of Great End and found ourselves above a temperature inversion.  The valleys were shrouded in thick mist with just a few of the higher peaks rising above it.  We were treated to clear skies with a big moon plus countless stars and satellites.  So a successful search was topped off with a memorable experience.

    Hi, it’s Daisy here.

    I’ve got another new friend.  It’s Mollie.  She’s one of the Recruiters’ dogs and she’s really new.  I’ve been teaching her how to play with sticks.