Team news for October 2014

  • Wednesday 29 October

    16:30 29 October 2014
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe


    Pumpkins and Carvers.




    Decorating the house.

  • Ghostrider

    10:00 27 October 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

    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 bouys 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 (1963-2014)
    National Trust Ranger
    South Lakes
  • Mushrooms and thrones.

    17:57 26 October 2014
    By Roy Henderson

    Last week was one of those weeks where I was juggling a few different jobs.  I spent some time with my volunteers adding some mushrooms and thrones to the ‘fairy ring’ on the play trail in Cockshot Wood next to the Trust shop.  As usual, my team of volunteers did some great work.  

    The son of one of the volunteers served as a very useful measure for how deep we needed to dig the holes for the thrones.  They need to be the right size. 

    It has been very satisfying to see people sitting on the mushrooms as soon as we have stopped work for the day.  I think this ‘fairy ring’ in the wood is going to be very popular.

    I spent some time with Leila, our new Academy Ranger surveying the area for an accessible path.  We do have to plan the route carefully.  Accessibility for all is always at the front of my mind and where ever possible I make things as accessible as possible.After all, our founders did say, “ For ever, for everybody.” That's a very long time and a lot of people.

    And lastly but not least, I’ve been drawing up plans to submit with a planning application for a new stretch of board-walk.

    On my day off, Daisy and me as usual walked along the lake shore.   I know I’ve mentioned it before, but it is worth repeating.  The colours are at their best at present and in sunshine or dappled shade the area is just stunning.  As ever, a few stormy days will begin to strip off many of the leaves from the trees and the first frosts will see the end of this year’s spectacular display.

    Daisy here, 

    Mucky face from digging.  Sad face because they have stopped me digging.

    I was helping Roy and his volunteers dig holes for the mushrooms and the thrones at the wild play trail.  Then they tied me up and I don’t know why because all I was doing was helping dig.  And guess what – I’m brilliant at digging.

  • Rangers ‘walking on the wild’ side…

    09:00 24 October 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

    As rangers, the variety of places we work and the type of work we carry out varies a lot. It almost sounds cliched we say it so often. Whether that is rebuilding a dry stone wall, fixing a gate, filling in potholes, leading a guided walk, doing some 50 things activities with groups of children or presenting our special places to the highest standard (that includes the toilets!). But the most important part of our role is sharing this love of special places with all our visitors.

    When I first started as a ranger, I was quite daunted by how much knowledge some of the other rangers had about their patch, ecology and the natural environment. From my volunteer days, I was under the impression that the role was very much about getting your hands dirty through the variety of conservation work such as rhododendron bashing and drainage clearance. But as it turned out it was about so much more than that! 
    South Lakes Rangers 'walking in the wild' side in Blelham Tarn
    Every ranger brings their own special skills and interests to the job and the South Lakes ranger team is no exception. They have a wealth of knowledge and experience but historically we have not been great at sharing this knowledge around the team (great at sharing with the public!). After lots of ranger chitter-chatter, we came up with a solution - ‘Walking in the wild side’.

    Rangers learning about the geology of the Coniston coppermines valley from a very knowledgeable, local historian, Mark Scott
    The idea is for a ranger to run an afternoon session of his or her choosing on the South Lakes patch, once a month by getting out and in true Lou Reed style ‘walking in the wild’ side! The topics so far have ranged from dragonflies and damselflies, the landscape history and ancient trees of Tarn Hows, the history of the Coniston Coppermines and a historical walk around Blelham Tarn. It seems hard to see how we can justify the ranger time initially when we look at the mounting work such as fixing wall gaps, repairing fences, filling in potholes, strimming grass. Justification is easy – how can we share our love of special places with our visitors if we don’t spend the time learning about them?

    Ranger Paul explaining how farmland can be managed to the benefit of the Windermere Catchment
    Many people tell me that you become knowledgable over time, by picking up tid-bits and simply asking lots of questions. I find the best way to learn is to get out and hear passionate people talking about the subjects that they care about! 

    The idea is not only to share this knowledge but also to allow individuals to pursue their own interests and learn about a topic to share with everyone else. We have plenty more planned in for the future including meadow wildflowers, Beatrix Potter and her farming legacy, traditional use of woodlands and woodland crafts. I am hoping to run a ‘walk in the wild side ‘ by sharing (and improving!) my knowledge of Lake District geomorphology… The knowledge of the South Lakes ranger team as a whole is improving rapidly!

    Rain doesn't stop play - learning about the industrial archaeology and history of the Coniston coppermines

    One of the National Trusts’ aims is to pass on a richer, healthier natural environment for future generations. This starts with sharing our knowledge and interests with everyone we meet... We want to help people to recognise the true value of our countryside and have a role in caring for it, for example to understand the impact that wild camping and off-road driving can have on our special places.

    So if you see a ranger in red out and about, ask them what they have been learning about recently!

  • Ranger Team Day at Millerground.

    16:00 22 October 2014
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    As mentioned in previous posts, sections of the Millerground footpath... on the extremely popular woodland walk along Windermere's eastern shore...are at risk of being seriously undermined when lake levels rise.

    To combat this...stone revetment work by rangers and volunteers has been taking place in vulnerable areas.

    It was felt that one bad area in particular needed many hands to help make a big task a lot less daunting; so Rangers, based at St. Catherine's Windermere, arranged a "Team Day" with the Fell Rangers, Rangers from Langdale and from Ullswater to assist with the work.

    It can be seen how the ground has sagged, the bank having been undercut and the soft sub soil washed away.
    A small sycamore, that had collapsed along with the undercut bank, needed to be felled and removed prior to continuing the stone revetment work.
    Revetment work proceeding with Fell Rangers, Leo and Ade and Langdale Ranger, Laura. Stone and rubble in the right of the image is being used to fill a void created by a fallen beech tree.
    The cavity that was created behind the uplifted rootplate after the tree fell is very close to the footpath, hence the guard fence. Once the hole was filled and levelled the fence could be removed.
    Stone being brought in by power barrow by Dave, Ullswater Ranger, and Ray, Windermere Ranger.
    Many tons of stone were needed. These power barrows have proven to be invaluable on difficult sites.
    Pitching up the slope where the sycamore once was.
    Looking good.
    Another section of path made safe. The angle of the revetment is designed to dissipate the strength of the waves when water levels are high.
    Putting in the new path edging stones. Where did you get that hat!?
    Newly landscaped area above the fallen beech tree. It is healthy enough inspite of its prone position as it still has a good root system. Interestingly reed beds are becoming established in the shelter of this fallen tree!
    What kind of a Team Day would it be without a barbeque? Steve from Ullswater keeping an expert eye on the sausages and burgers.

  • The 'Find the Casualty' Game

    15:19 19 October 2014
    By Roy Henderson

    I had a new experience last weekend when I went across to Red Screes at Kirkstone Pass to watch Jan and Daisy training for Daisy to be a search dog.  It’s the first training session I’ve been to.  Until now I have deliberately stayed away so that Daisy would not be distracted by my presence.

    Watching them both work was really interesting.  Daisy covers big distances incredibly well and is very good at finding the ‘casualties’.  She doesn’t always tell Jan that she has found the casualty though so the next training step is to make sure that she goes back and barks for Jan.  At the moment she finds one casualty and then tends to move straight on to look for more but she should always return to Jan as soon as she has found somebody.

    It was obvious that both Jan and Daisy are enjoying the training and I was delighted to see just how much progress they have made in only a few months.  I also enjoyed meeting members of some of the other rescue teams.

    We had gone over there with our camping van intending to stay overnight in the Ullswater area.  We found that the camping sites were all very busy with people who are taking the opportunity to see the autumn colours.  It’s good to know that so many people are appreciating the Lakes in all their moods.  It looks good even on wet days but when it is sunny with broken cloud, it looks spectacular.  It really is worth a weekend visit if you have the opportunity but don’t forget your camera!

    Daisy here,

    Roy came to watch me train.  I was brilliant.  I found everybody really quickly.  It’s not my fault that Jan can’t smell them.
  • 20 tons of stone and plastic carrots

    09:00 17 October 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

    It’s often striking how varied a National Trust ranger’s job can be. For proof of this you need look no further than some of the entries on this blog that cover subjects as diverse as working with volunteers on mountain paths (3rd October) to spending a few days in Manchester city centre (8th August), building storage compounds for tender boats on Windermere (25th July) to researching mysterious natural phenomena (27th June).

    A recent couple of days spent editing video footage highlighted this too. Back in May I filmed a great (if noisy) day working with Littledale Hall therapeutic community moving 20 tons of stone 400 metres uphill as part of the Claife Station project, but hadn’t had the chance since then to put it together into a short film.

    However, a few weeks ago I was given the chance to film the opening of the new ‘Peter Rabbit adventure’ rooms at Wray Castle. Being new it was much more important to get this film completed as quick as possible, so I set aside a few days to do so and at the same time managed to complete the Claife Station one. Very pleasing!

    You can see both of the films here:

    Watching them back was what got me thinking not just about the variety of a ranger’s role, but of the amazing contrast between the different people the National Trust can be involved with. These two groups couldn’t have been less like each other; adults taking back control of their lives after struggling with substance abuse problems and primary school children excited to be entering the world of their Cbeebies heroes. Despite their differences it was brilliant to see how much they both got out of their days with us. Try as I might I can think of few organisations that can boast this broad a spread of appeal – makes you proud to be a ranger!

    If you fancy checking out both Claife station and Wray Castle then they’re handily at either end of a lovely lakeshore walk. To refer back to the blog again, the entry from 30th May has a description of this. Do bear in mind though that from 2nd November the castle is only open Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

    By Rob Clarke, Basecamp community ranger
  • Another year of repairing the path on Gowbarrow

    11:32 16 October 2014
    By Ade Mills, Pete Entwistle, Leo Walmsley

    Throughout the year we've been working up on the path at Gowbarrow, in Ullswater. This is the second year that we've been working on this site and once again we've been joined by numerous volunteer groups.

    Starting to dig off the turf

    The Field Studies Council joined us again this year with a school group from Ripponden. The group got stuck right in with cutting turf and resurfacing the path.

    The group hard at work

    Coming back for a second year also gave the teachers a good opportunity to see how last years work had started to bed-in and blend in more with it's surroundings.

    We were also assisted by other members of National Trust staff from around the property.

    National Trust staff clear a route through the bracken

    This helped give staff who work in different areas of the property a better idea of some of the work that we do, and also gave them the opportunity to try something a bit different to their usual jobs.

    Freshly gravelled path

    We also held monthly work parties for the Fix the Fells volunteers.

    Starting landscaping the path

    These monthly work parties have really helped push the project along over the last two years and a special thanks has to go out to the Fix the Fells volunteers.

    Newly landscaped path

    The Fell Rangers from the North Lakes have also regularly helped us out.

    Two of the North Lakes team start on some landscaping

    Since the North Lakes team was newly created this year, it gave them a good opportunity to get involved in a different type of project and helped them learn a few different techniques.

    Completed landscaping

    For the second consecutive year we also held our National Trust working holiday up on Gowbarrow.

    Before starting work with the working holiday

    Four volunteers from last years holiday returned, along with several new volunteers.

    Digging off the path

    We continued the section of path that we'd repaired with them last year, and extended it right to the summit.

    The resurfaced path

    Once again a huge thanks to all the volunteers who have helped us over the last two years, as without this help we couldn't have achieved so much. It's been great meeting you all, and perhaps we'll see some of you again in the not too distant future.

    The Working Holiday on Gowbarrow

  • Apple Day.

    15:14 13 October 2014
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    "Apple Day" at Acorn Bank, Temple Sowerby is an annual event that began in 1994. Over the years its popularity has grown to the extent that yesterday, Sunday the 12th of October, more than 2,500 people came along to enjoy all that Apple Day has to offer!

     Acorn Bank and South East Lakes and Morecambe Bay staff put on and run the event with assistance from National Trust properties throughout the North West.

    Staff  from Central and East Lakes were involved mainly with marshalling the car parking and running the Apple Shy. 

    This was a view from Kirkstone Pass on the way to Acorn Bank on Sunday morning.

    Looked like a glorious day was on the way!

    A big area of parkland, but it soon filled up with cars.



    The Apple Shy.


    Punch and Judy.


    Longest Apple Peel Competition.

    Bill and Abigail, National Trust Recruiters, Central and East Lakes.

    Acorn Bank.

    More images from Apple Day.

    A great event made even more special by the beautiful autumnal

  • A special day

    18:42 10 October 2014
    By Roy Henderson

    One day last week began as a routine walk for Daisy and me along the western shore of Derwentwater to survey the condition of gates, fences, paths, culverts etc.  It has always been one of our favourite walks but everything was just right and this time it was a fantastic day.

    These are regular checks that we carry out so that we can make repairs before major problems arise.  Mostly we are dealing with wear and tear rather than vandalism.  This time I have noted a few gates needing some attention, a bridge that needs repair, some fencing that needs to be replaced and some culverts that will need some maintenance. So our ranger repair team now can direct their efforts most effectively.

    Whilst we were out doing that, by coincidence, we came across a school group I had worked with before.  There was lots of happy excitement as they called for Daisy and had a run around playing with her.

    It was a fantastic day but I suspect it will have been one of the last days of summer.  We are now expecting rain.  I am hoping it will begin slowly and soak the ground before the real downpours arrive.  The ground is so dry at present that heavy rain will just run off the surface and might cause quite a lot of damage to footpaths.  All we can do is wait and see what happens!

    Daisy here:

    I’ve been running around the lake shore.  It was great.  I met kids that I know and played with them in the woods.  And then I learned all about how you mustn’t chase geese or swans.  You can just stand and look at them as long as you are careful.

  • Story of a Shed

    09:00 10 October 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

    Perhaps you have unexpectedly seen a shed somewhere in the Lake District fells?
    This blog, from the South Lakes Upland Ranger team, explains why you might see one and outlines the story so far of one such shed.

    As an Upland Ranger team we spend much of the year up in the fells working on footpaths to protect them from erosion as part of Fix the Fells. This can mean working on the same path for several months in all weathers and some shelter and storage space comes in very handy.
    A shed has become the shelter of choice for this upland footpath team.

    This year we have had a shed on the Red Tarn to Crinkle Crags footpath, a joint project with the West Lakes Upland Ranger team. It is fair to say that this shed has been around the block a bit having been previously used in a few locations. It started out life lower down on this path and before returning has been to other locations including Pike o' Blisco and Crinkle Crags.

    (Fred the) Shed in an earlier location: on Pike o' Blisco
    The sheds we use are (usually) moved between sites by helicopter.  The shed is flat packed and flown to location at the same time as rock for the year's projects is moved.
    This year it didn't go smoothly and due to weather conditions and priorities we didn't actually get a shed in place during the main helicopter lifts. However a few months into the project a helicopter was in the area for another job and we jumped at the chance to finally get it moved.
    "The Shed has Landed"
    (Not a bad backdrop too !)
    Once the shed was in place the next job was to re-assemble it. There were some concerns that this shed had seen better days and may be partly rotten having spent three years on Crinkle Crags since its last use. We also had some fun trying to find suitable bolts and screws to fix it together and selecting the correct size nuts for the bolts!
    Construction in progress.
    Weather holding up nicely.

    Finishing touches, tethering the shed down.
    Weather has taken a turn for the worse.
    We needn't have worried about the condition of the shed and it went together nicely.
    The weather was also kind to us and held out for almost all of the construction process.

    "Bijou": First lunch inside
    The shed was built in time for a three day party on this project with the Fix the Fells volunteer lengthsmen.  It proved worthwhile too as we had some poor weather, consistent with our previous work parties. Some volunteers however seemed reluctant to use it as it would have been difficult to fit everyone in and instead sheltered in front of it.

    Some volunteers were too polite to use the shed at lunch time

    "Supervisor" Hamish was less reluctant to use the shed
    We have almost finished work for this year on the the Red Tarn to Crinkle Crags path and very soon it will be time to take the shed down and flat pack it. We have more work on this project next year and plan to construct it again next spring.
    Perhaps this shed will makes its home in a new location in 2016 or will it be time to retire it from active service..... ?

    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
  • Essential Equipment

    09:14 08 October 2014
    By Ivan Corlett

    This week on Gondola I was aware that I had a problem in the engine room, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

    Engine room

    There was enough fuel in the firebox.


    Steam pressure looked good.

    Pressure gauges

    I’d oiled everything that needed oiling.

    Oil can

    And then I realised what the problem was. You can probably spot it in the next picture.

    Tea in the engine room

    That’s correct, I’d forgotten to drink my tea!

    It’s important to keep the engineer fuelled as well as the engine you know.

  • Windermere Temperature Inversion.

    07:23 06 October 2014
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    Spectacular temperature inversions are particularly likely to form over valleys with large bodies of water.

    The image below, taken at 8 a.m on October 2nd from St. Catherine's, shows a temperature/cloud inversion over Windermere, England's largest lake.

    These inversions usually occur on still, quiet nights prompting cold dense air to sink down, displacing warmer less dense air, hence the term..inversion.

    The effect of the surface cooling down produces condensation in the air above and low clouds form.

    A closer view of the cloud cover above the lake, still trapped by the warmer air above that acts like a lid!

    Long cold and still nights not only cause temperature inversions, they are also ideal for the formation of ground frosts.

    By 8.15 a.m heat from the rising Sun and a strengthening breeze has dispersed most of the low cloud and the ground frost has all but gone.

    This image, taken at 8.30 a.m from the Grove Farm near Common Wood, shows the last traces of the inversion over Windermere below Claife Heights.

    This image, taken at 1 pm, is an attempt to show how clear the air is after the inversion has lifted. Perhaps a better camera was needed to show the breathtaking clarity of the Langdale Pikes, but hopefully this will give some indication!

    Inversions and ground frosts typically occur in Autumn; the exceptional "Indian Summer" enjoyed by so many in the Lake District must be nearly over!
  • Holiday in the Hills

    09:00 03 October 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

    This week the blog comes from the South Lakes Upland Ranger team.
    A Holiday in the Hills probably sounds like a lovely idea, however it is worth noting that this holiday involved 5 days of Upland Footpath work. (Perhaps not everyone's idea of lovely.)
    The first working day was a Sunday, the participants having arrived the day before and settled into the bunkhouse at High Wray.  As an introduction to footpath work we took the group on a "drain run". This involves checking an existing footpath route emptying the drains and clearing loose stone from any "stone pitched" sections of path.
    The group, including one from Australia and one from Belgium, got stuck into this task and did a thorough job. Unfortunately it was quite a harsh introdution as the weather was not kind with wind and icy rain throughout the day. Although it was a good time to see how the drainage was working.

    Grim introduction: A drain run on a cold wet & windy day
    After a grim first day we wondered if everyone would return on the Monday as very occasionally participants make an early exit. We needn't have worried as everyone was back bright and early to meet us at the Three Shires Stone on the Wrynose Pass. The group also brought with them much nicer weather.
    Early morning warm up by the Three Shires Stone
    (Much nicer weather too)
    The work for the next two days was on one of the team's main projects for the year, the footpath from Red Tarn to Crinkle Crags.  The group worked on a part where people were spreading out and a widening erosion scar was developing. The plan was to use landscaping techniques to remove any side routes and create a tighter more manageable path line.

    Before: Path widening and erosion scar developing 
    The landscaping approach used is sometime referred to as "hump & hollow". It involves stripping turf and re-shaping the ground next to the path into humps and hollows.  The idea is to make this area unattractive to walk on so that people don't want to spread out. Once we are happy that the shapes of the humps and hollows are fairly natural looking the turf that was stripped off is re-laid. In addition grass seed (specially mixed for the fells) is used on any bare patches so the landscaping will green over and blend into the fellside.

    During: Group working to remove side routes

    After: Section of "hump & hollow" landscaping complete  
    After a well earned rest day it was a time for a change of scenery and also a change of task. The location was the Tongue Gill path, part of the very popular Coast to Coast route. The work was to build a section of stone path using large rocks that had been lifted to site by helicopter. This type of stone stepped path is known as "stone pitching".
    The rock used has an interesting background as it came out of the ground lower down Tongue Gill during excavations for a  hydroelectric power scheme completed this year. The owner of the scheme generously donated the rock to Fix the Fells .

    Group get cracking building "Stone Pitching" on the Tongue Gill path

    Eight happy volunteers with their completed sections of Stone Pitching
    It was a very enjoyable and productive working holiday with lots of good quality work completed !

    The National Trust runs a range of Working Holidays all around the country.  An opportunity for like minded people to meet, have a holiday and carry out conservation work with experienced staff.  The costs are fairly modest and cover accommodation in a bunkhouse, food during the holiday and transport between the bunkhouse and work site.  More information on working holidays can be found using the following link: Working Holidays

    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
  • If you go down to the woods ...

    14:39 02 October 2014
    By Roy Henderson

    If you go into Cockshot Wood on the play trail now, you’ll find a new surprise.  I’ve been working with my regular volunteers to begin the installation of a fairy ring of wooden mushrooms. These will soon be joined by some wooden thrones. I made them using local wood and a chainsaw. 

    The idea is to tempt people further away from the lake shore and deeper into the wood to play and enjoy themselves.  Try to make a quiet time when you are in there and who knows what you might see or hear.

    I’ve also had another trip over to Derwent Island last week for more of the ongoing planning of the project to change from oil to gas heating for the house.  We have done quite a lot of planning for this so far and we’re now into the final details before work can begin.  Soon we will have to have some training sessions for the contractors who will have to use the boat to get themselves and their equipment over to the island.  That’s not a bad way to commute to work each morning!

    Daisy here:  I’ve been to Derwent Island to visit my friends Gus and Bryn.  They are brilliant. They’re a little bit younger than me but bigger.  But I’m faster than they are.   Gus has just had an operation on his front legs so I hope he gets better soon. 

    Have a look at me with my special rescue team jacket on.

  • Thursday 02 October

    14:36 02 October 2014
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    Help from the Outward Bound Trust

    During the summer the Rangers at Ullswater have been carrying on path improvement works throughout Aira Force.

    There was a particularly bad section of path at High Force that needed some remedial work undertaking on it.

    This picture shows the old path leading up the left hand side to a very rocky and eroded section. The grass and soil have gradually been washed away over the years, which has exposed the bed rock, this has become extremely hard to walk on, in turn this leads to people walking on the edges of the path, these edges eventually erode away and expose more bed rock, which over a number of years leads to the path increasing in width.

    The plan was to re direct the path up to the right, avoiding the bed rock. The idea was to dig a meter wide channel into the soil and then lay some gravel down to provide a hard surface to walk on.

    This sort of work is extremely labour intensive, so it was very useful to be able to work in partnership with the Outward Bound Trust.

    On four separate occasions we where joined by groups of young adults. The first three days we where joined by a mix of European and UK students, who where on a three week course, learning different life skills.

    They all worked extremely hard and at the end of the three days the new path had been dug and filled with gravel.


    On the fourth day we where joined by a younger group of students, this time the plan was to landscape the old path in so that people weren’t inclined to still use it.

    Soil that had been dug up was used to cover the old path, and stones where dug in so as to deter people from following the old root.

    Grass seed was then spread over the soil, so hopefully by next spring/summer the old path will no longer be visible.

    Thanks again must go to the hard work all the students put in over the four days. A job that could have taken a couple of weeks to complete was finished in half the time.