Team news for July 2014

  • My morning coffee stop.

    13:51 29 July 2014
    By Roy Henderson

    I’ve often mentioned Friars Crag before and frequently show photographs taken there.  What I haven’t said before is that I often stroll along there with my early morning coffee and start my day with views that would be hard to better.  I know not everyone is lucky enough to have such a place outside their door but, if you can, you could take your coffee out in the garden or maybe a short stroll will take you to a little park area.  It beats every morning on the settee or at the kitchen table and you never know what you might see. Friars Crag is a honey-pot to visitors during the day but in the early hours it’s a different world where the sights and sounds of the natural world dominate.

    At the Trust we are working to make it possible for as many as possible to enjoy this outdoor world when they visit here.  As part of that we are constantly checking the condition of the furniture in the area.  Furniture in this context includes walls, fences, gates, stiles, bridges as well as benches.  Chris, our Whitehaven Ranger, joined me one day recently as we carried out a survey of the condition of the furniture in the Castle Crag area. We took Chris’s two lurchers and Daisy with us and they had a great day of course.

    It was a good, productive day.  We found a few things that need doing; where we could we actually did a few small jobs as we found them and we also spotted a tree beside a path that needed immediate attention.  The foresters dealt with that the next day.

    Daisy here:

    Chris’s dogs can run really fast but I can keep up with them – just.  But they got tired really quickly.  I’m more middle distance.

  • Improving the lakeshore

    09:00 25 July 2014
    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

    If you have been down to the lakeshore recently, you may have been wondering why there have been rangers scratching their heads, diggers digging and fences being erected. The reason for this new development has been baffling many passers-by.

    The first stages of development, what a great spot to have the office for a few days!
     As the days go by, more and more features keep appearing, such as hedge banks, gravel road ways and fencing.

    Even the cows are interested in the new development!

    This development is the result of a partnership project between the National Trust and Windermere Reflections. Up and down the lakeshore are many small tender boats. These are used by those lucky few with moorings on the lake bed and are their means of transport out to these beautiful boats on the lake. These are currently chained and tied up to trees, roots and whatever else, scattered along the whole of the West Shore from Ash Landing through to Strawberry Gardens.

    The tenders being stored on the lakeshore.
    Whilst these tenders do not do harm in themselves, owners edging steadily down steep wooded banks often found it rather precarious to do so. There is also the erosion caused to the sensitive lake shore, through the physical erosion of boats being dragged across young unestablished vegetation and the reed beds which are a fast disappearing habitat.

    Since the 19th century, there has been a rapid decline in the number of reedbeds along the shores of Windermere. Reedbeds are a succession of young reeds which colonise open water. As the reedbed ages, the successive layers of vegetation build up the water level gradually turning it into increasingly drier ground. This allows scrub and woodland to develop.

    Reedbeds reduce the erosion of the lakeshore banks by absorbing the impact of waves from passing boats and high winds, giving the vegetation on the lake shore some protection. Reedbeds are important places for invertebrates and bird species, with those in Windermere being particularly important for overwintering birds and breeding birds in the spring and summer. These have been all but lost along the Harrowslack lakeshore. 

    Works in progress.
    This decline has not just been caused by people hauling their tenders through the reeds into the lake of course. These are also caused by bow waves from boats, grazing by geese, ducks, farm animals and changing nutrient levels in the water.

    So the plan is to place all of these tender boats into 3 compounds spread equally along the lakeshore. This will give the lakeshore vegetation chance to get re-established, make access to the boats safer and hopefully improve the visual look along the length of the lakeshore. Once the hedgerows have established and the compounds weather a bit, it will look great.

    Of course, it will take more than just moving the tenders into one place to allow the reedbeds to re-establish. Windermere Reflections have started by mapping the existing reedbeds along the lake shore and will in the future, along with South Cumbria Rivers Trust, look at ways to artificially propagate and reseed the reedbeds to give them the best chance to establish as well as educating boat users about the best places to land their boats. Check out the Windermere Reflections website for more information about this and their other projects:

    Hedges will be planted into these raised banks to screen off the boats.
     Pop down and watch our progress. Constructing the tender storage is just another way of improving our lake shore. We hope to have the first compound built by the end of August and in use by the beginning of next year.

  • Replacing the water hecks at Holbeck Ghyll.

    03:00 25 July 2014
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    National Trust woodland at Holbeck Ghyll is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, (SSSI) denoting a protected area in the Uk.

    This site is noted for its geological features, and the fossils that are to be  found here.

    The water hecks, designed to keep livestock out of this SSSI, are clearly the worse for wear and due for replacement.


    The heck at the top of the woodland held together with twine!
    An old disused Hogg House overlooks the top heck. This derelict building was, at one time, used to protect hoggs ( 9 to 18 month old sheep) over the winter months; a hayloft was  above the floor where the sheep were housed.
    The old heck removed and construction for the replacement can begin.
    A heck of an improvement.
    The first heck completed.


    The heck at the bottom of the woodland...definitely seen better days!
    Cutting through the old beam on the lower heck.
    Bringing up more materials...a time consuming part of the work. A fair distance up to the site was inaccessible to the works 4 wheel drive....
     Taking away the rotten, scrap wood.
    A well seasoned birch log, (approx 20') with the bark stripped off and treated with wood preserver stain, is used for the main beam.

    Constructing the heck. It is designed to swing when the water levels rise and swing back when the levels fall. All the while it should be stock proof. 
    The second heck completed.

  • Wildlife at Bowe Barn

    11:50 24 July 2014
    By Roy Henderson

    If you are familiar with Borrowdale, you might have noticed that we have our National Trust North Lakes offices at Bowe Barn.  This is an old, typical Lakeland stone-built building situated in an area with lots of very mature trees.  A happy coincidence of that is that some of the local wild-life makes good use of the building.

    We have a breeding colony of pipistrelle bats living in the roof space above our offices at present.  Pipistrelles are one of the commonest and also the smallest bats to be found in Britain.  They are3.5–5.2 cm long along the head-and-body, and the tail adds 2.3–3.6 cm. They weigh from 3.5 to 8.5 g and have a wingspan ranging from 18 to 25 cmIt’s fantastic to see them but occasionally one or two find their way inside the building. The carpet of our office is a dangerous place for them to be so we have to very gently take them outdoors and put them into a crevice in the outside walls of the building!

     We also have swallows nesting and breeding with the young ones finding some handy perching places.  Right now they are at their noisiest as they sit and demand food.  We must have a very healthy insect population to support them and the bats!

    Hi, It’s Daisy here.

    As part of my Mountain Rescue training, I’ve been to the pub again.  This bit of the training is really tiring.

  • What are you up to this summer?

    14:29 16 July 2014
    By Jo Day

     Thursday 24th July 2-4pm Creatures of the Estuary
    Use pond nets to fish for a variety of weird and wonderful sea creatures in the Duddon Estuary at Low tide. Nets and trays are provided.

    Monday 28th July 1-4pm Family Beach Events Day
    A variety of fun family events run by the National Trust, Cumbria Wildlife Trust and Love my Beach. Activities include beach-combing, pond dipping and a sand sculptures competition. Come along at any time between 1pm and 4pm
    Thursday 31st July Stream Dipping
    Explore the fascinating under water world of a stream using pond nets to catch all kinds of weird and wonderful mini beasts.  

    Thursday 7th Aug 2-4pm Mini-Beast Safari
    Take a journey in to sand dunes to explore the hidden world of mini-beasts.
    Thursday 14th Aug 2-4pm Sand sculptures
    Show off your artistic talents by creating natural sculptures from sand and shells on our lovely beach

    Thursday 21st Aug 2-4pm Wildlife Explorer Trail
    Bring your detective skills with you as you investigate what lives amongst the dunes

  • Ongoing Touch Me Not Balsam and Netted Carpet Moth conservation.

    09:27 16 July 2014
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    Pulling out brambles at two National Trust sites has given a much needed boost to the numbers of a scarce annual native plant known as Touch Me Not Balsam. Its main stronghold is in the Lake District but in quite limited numbers.
    Pulling out brambles at Parson Wyke. Disturbing the ground and reducing competition from brambles will hopefully allow more Touch Me Not seeds to germinate in the Spring.

    An image of the site at Parson Wyke this impressive stand of Touch Me Not where brambles were once dominant.
    A close up of one of the flowers.
    Volunteers help to pull out and cut back brambles at Millerground in March. This has had the  benefit of allowing 2200 bluebells to be planted; when their season is  over, Touch Me Not should appear in greater numbers in late spring.
    Success with the Bluebells at Millerground....
    and later on with the Touch Me Not!
    As mentioned in previous posts, Touch Me Not is the only food source for one of the rarest moths in the UK....The Netted Carpet Moth; its caterpillars (see image) are utterly reliant on this plant. Good numbers of plants are needed to maintain annual moth populations.
    A Netted Carpet Moth spotted on July 11th. These moths were extensively collected by Victorians and for quite some time the moths were thought to be extinct from the 1900s, until "rediscovered" in the 1940s at a site near Windermere.
    At Millerground invasive non native Himalayan Balsam is a constant threat. It is pulled out regularly to prevent it from displacing the Touch Me Not stands.
    Weeping sedge grass {Carex Pendula} is spreading at an alarming rate and is starting to take over some of the Touch Me Not sites. It likes similar conditions. ie damp shady woodlands.
    A small Touch Me Not almost smothered by Carex Pendula. It is sometimes referred to as a "Thug Plant" because it is potentially highly invasive. A concerted effort will be taking place to deal with it soon or otherwise some Touch Me Not stands will be completely overrun.
  • Upland Tarns.

    06:57 13 July 2014
    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 word ‘tarn’ is derived from the Old Norse ‘tjorn’, which was used to describe any small body of water. It means ‘a small lake’ or more poetically ‘a teardrop’.

    Tarn is a regional term used largely, but not exclusively in the Lake District, which along with many other local names, originated with the Viking invaders who settled in Cumbria in the tenth century.
    The tarns in Cumbria were formed as a result of glacial action, when the glaciers and ice sheets finally receded some 10,000 years ago, scouring the landscape, allowing water  to be trapped and contained. Many of the highest and most spectacular tarns occupy corries (from Scottish Gaelic coire meaning a pot or cauldron) scooped from the fells by ice, some are surprisingly deep.

    Bleaberry Tarn.
    Bleaberry tarn and Buttermere looking down from Red pike.

    Lying south-west of lake Buttermere, Bleaberry Tarn (meaning blueberry tarn) is a fine example of hanging valley and corrie glacial scenery. The tarn lies between Chapel Crags, Red Pike and the tough scree of The Saddle. The outflow of the tarn flows into Buttermere via the quirkily-named Sour Milk Gill.

    Grisedale Tarn.

    Grisedale Tarn is surrounded by the high ground of the summit of Fairfield itself, Dollywaggon Pike and Seat Sandal. In the past, the tarn was a welcome watering hole for traders on the packhorse routes that used to move goods through the Lake District.
    Grisedale tarn looking towards raise beck from Fairfield path, can you spot the shed!
    There are a few other historical stories associated with it. Legend has it that the last king of Cumbria, King Dunmail, was killed in battle at Dunmail Raise and buried under the large stone pile at the top of the pass. The kings’s surviving warriors are said to have threw his crown into the waters of Grisedale Tarn.

    Red Tarn.