Team news for December 2015

  • Gallery 2015

    17:51 25 December 2015
    By Roy Henderson

    I've been having a busy time in the aftermath of storm Desmond but have finally put together a selection of pictures that illustrate some of the work we have done this last year. There is more heavy rain forecast but we just have to hope it isn't as bad this time.

  • Memorable photos.

    10:00 25 December 2015
    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 weeks blog comprises of some favorite and memorable photos of the South Lakes Footpath Team projects throughout the year.

    Our main project this year was working on the Coniston Old Man path from Low water to the summit. Thanks to help from the wider ranger team at Boon Crag we filled the helibags in time for the scheduled helicopter flights.

    All rangers at the ready! bag filling blitz!

    Photo by Paul Kingston
    Photo by Paul Kingston

    Working on the erosion scars on Striding edge lent itself to some spectacular photos this year. As well as physically combating erosion issues within the Lake District education is also vital, sharing knowledge within the National trust is part of this. Below is a photo of South Lakes 'walk on the wild side' team day discussing the erosion concerns on Striding edge.

    Team day on Striding edge.
    Amazing refection in Red tarn below Striding edge.

    Decent day on Striding edge.

    Don't throw the bucket!!

    Previous footpath projects often need maintenance, such as extra drainage, repairing stone pitching or path re-surfacing. One of the maintenance tasks this year was on Mart Crag Moor in the Langdales, topping up the low points on the path. This involved mining for glacial till otherwise know as pinnel which acts as a hard wearing surface material. 

    Pinnel pies.
    Walking to Mart Crag Moor from vehicle (white dot in valley)
    Looking up the valley from the vehicle.
    Some other memorable photos throughout the year on different work site.

    Cloud inversion looking down Tongue gill from Fairfield.

    Kipping at lunchtime on Dovedale.
    Faint rainbow at Hole rake Christmas work party.
  • Picture Gallery of Volunteers.

    09:20 24 December 2015
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    Just some examples of the work volunteers have been
    involved with in the Central and East Lakes region over the course of 2015. 
    With thanks and good wishes for 2016!
     Matthew clearing away wind-blown trees from woodland wall. More firewood for the Footprint woodburner!
    Combating invasive plants at Dora's Field Grasmere.
    Himalayan Balsam and Japanese Knotweed.
    Newton Rigg students replacing worn out steps at Wetherall Woods, near Carlisle.
    Cumbria National Trust Volunteer Group.
    Putting in stone setts at Ambleside Roman Fort.
    Working Holiday Group upgrading Millerground Footpath and lake shore revetment work.
    Volunteer group from Shardale.
    Footpath improvement and resurfacing work.

  • The after-effects of storm Desmond.

    11:32 20 December 2015
    By Roy Henderson

    I’m sure you will be aware from news reports that we had large amounts of rain last week in the Lake District. It caused quite a lot of isolated pockets of damage including a number of landslides. Fortunately most of the valley withstood the deluge remarkably well. At the head of the valley where the underlying rocks are the very hard Borrowdale volcanics, there has been minimal damage. The land slips have occurred mainly in the part of the valley where the underlying rocks are the softer slates.

    Path washed away

    More path damage

    Our new footbridge survived ...

    ... but the path will need some repair.
    We are working as quickly as we can to have everything repaired and made safe for access. Some of the Trust guys from Wasdale have come across to help and they are doing a sterling job.It won’t be too long before we are back to normal.

    Some of the damage on Catbells.
    Repairs underway

    Culvert firmly in place
     Bridge in Watendlath closed until safety checks have been carried out.

    It’s sad to see the people of Keswick, Braithwaite, Cockermouth and indeed county-wide who have had their homes flooded yet again. Some, including my brother, have had this happen three times in recent years. It could have been so much worse though but the emergency services and community flood action groups did fantastic work to keep people safe.

    Work underway to clear beck above Braithwaite.

    The calm (and some snow) after the storm!


    Daisy here: 

    Everything’s changed on the lake shore. My favourite walk is not the same but it’ll be OK. 
  • Black Eye Friday

    11:24 17 December 2015
    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

    Black Eye Friday

    Around here the Friday before Christmas is traditionally known , by the emergency services, as ‘Black Eye Friday’  it’s the day when the local builders, joiners, plumbers, electricians and people who work the land,  finish work and start their Christmas break . Many local trades people gather  in the local pubs , much drink is taken , tongues are loosened and later in the evening petty rivalries and grievances are aired,  things are said that would be better left unsaid leading to the inevitable ‘wrestling and fisticuffs ‘ and the blackening of eyes !

    This year however may be a bit different , the recent exceptionally severe flooding and strong winds has meant that houses have been flooded , roads and bridges damaged,  trees felled onto tracks and paths , walls and fences.


    Some of our National Trust staff have been affected;  flooded out of  their houses, possessions damaged beyond repair. 

    Like our own NT Rangers , many of the local builders are now busier than they have been all year , working hard to repair the damage caused by wind and water, hoping to get people back into their homes before Christmas .

     As I write this we have Rangers and teams of volunteers assessing and prioritising the damage , repairing tracks  and removing windblown trees from paths. Builders  and joiners are delaying their Christmas break ripping out damaged kitchen units and furniture trying to dry out properties quickly so that re-building work can begin. This work will continue well into the new year and some of it will take months !

    Cumbrian Spirit

    All this paints a bleak picture,  but the reality of life in the Lakes is that we have faced severe weather challenges before; repaired, rebuilt and carried on with our work and our lives and this time will be no different. Most of the businesses are open as usual , the majority of roads and bridges are open , the countryside is accessible , if a little scarred in places .

    Moody and magnificent
    So come and visit Cumbria and the South Lakes we are open for business and we could do with your support now more than ever. If anything the Lakes is looking even more moody and magnificent , the becks and waterfalls are certainly something to behold,  and Christmas is a great time to be in the Lakes whatever the weather.

    Do check our NT website for opening times  and info as some of our properties close for a Winter break to prepare for the new season.

    Happy Christmas
  • A fond farewell to South Lakes

    10:00 11 December 2015
    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

    Every year when our annual cohort of full time, long term volunteers leaves, we make them (askthem to) write a blog reflecting on their experience. Well, this time it’s my turn to leave after a very happy couple of years working at South Lakes, and it seems only right that I should join in the tradition. It feels far too soon to be going, but when I look back at what we’ve been up to since January 2013, I’m amazed by the amount and variety of stuff we’ve managed to fit in!

    I feel incredibly lucky to have worked in some of the most spectacular spots in the country…

    …including hidden gems….

    …on the most picturesque days.

    I’ve built fences to make space for nature…

    …and seen the results.

    Experienced the madness of a film set…

    …and the peculiar madness of Lake District wall gaps.

    Not to mention that of spending too much time in the office.

    And closest to my heart, I’ve met some great trees…

    …and people.

    So as the sun sets on my time at South Lakes, it's just left to say big love to the team, I’m gutted to be leaving x

  • Interim repairs to the St. Catherine's drive.

    14:43 10 December 2015
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    In the aftermath of Storm Desmond repairs to the three hundred metre plus drive to St. Catherine's, The Footprint and Gatelands, are now well underway as the following images show...

    Blue obligingly posed to give some sense of scale to the problem.
    Central East Lakes pick up and two ton tipper trailer put to work.
    Craig and Nick from the South Lakes region were quick to offer their assistance in the running repairs to the drive. Here Craig is loading the dumper driven by Nick with material washed down in the flood.
    ...another load of salvaged aggregate ready to be raked in.
    James, Ray and a special mention for Leila, academy ranger from North Lakes, in helping to spread the retrieved aggregate brought up by the dumper. 
    John gathering up more aggregate.
    Here come the cavalry....The firm I.T Shaw were commendably quick to arrive on the scene with the heavy plant machinery needed to deal with the massive amount of work required just to reinstate vehicular access to the property.
    The excavator at work with dumper in attendance.
    A twenty ton load of MOT Type one sub base arriving from Burlington... making it two hundred tons delivered up to press...ready to be spread and rolled. The final top layer will be put down in the New Year, once the drainage for the drive has been reinstated and improved .

    Thanks are owed to I.T.Shaw and their prompt response in dealing with the situation and to Craig and Nick from South Lakes, and Leila from North Lakes for all their valuable assistance.

  • After The Deluge

    17:30 06 December 2015
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    Images from around Ambleside and Windermere in the aftermath of Storm Desmond. Sunday December 6th.
    Stock Ghyll Force looking impressive after 'unprecedented' rainfall.

    The wrecked National Trust St. Catherine's, The Footprint, and Gatelands.. after Wynlass Beck burst its banks during the relentless downpour.
    The drive is extensively damaged throughout its entire length with ruts of over two feet deep in places.
    Tarmac ripped up by fast flowing flood water. Ambleside.
    The rubble strewn A591 at Troutbeck Bridge.
    Waterhead Marine.
    Lake Wardens going to the assistance of a stranded Land Rover.
    Jenkyns Field.
    The dry boathouse at Jenkyns Field!

    The A591 between Ambleside and Windermere with flood water gradually receding but more rain forecast for the week ahead...

  • Winter work.

    21:51 04 December 2015
    By Roy Henderson

    I’ve spent much of this last week preparing for a project in Braithwaite, a village near Keswick. There is a flooding problem on the Common in an area owned by the Trust so I’m going to replace the old, clay land drain that has collapsed in places with a new one made from modern materials. We hope that will solve the flooding problem for the foreseeable future.

    My main concern at the start of this is the position of existing underground services. I’ve been able to find some useful mapping on the United Utilities website but there are lots of other things in the area I will need to find. Telephone lines, power cables, fresh water, waste water and gas pipes all run through where we will need to dig. So I’ve spent some time carefully surveying the area with a CAT scanner. This scan detects the location and then I dig test pits to establish exactly what is there.
    The next step will be to bring in a mini-digger and the last thing we want to do is sever essential pipes or cables.

    It is now several months since construction of the water treatment plant at Force Crag Mine was completed. The mine is no longer operational but contaminated water continues to drain from the workings. This new plant will clean up the water before it enters the streams, rivers and lakes of this area. This is a pioneering project and is a collaborative venture between the National Trust, the National Coal Board, the Environment Agency and Newcastle University so it is of some significance. As such it merited an opening ceremony last Friday carried out by Rory Stewart MP who represents our neighbouring constituency of Penrith & the Borders and is also a minister in the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA)

    A huge amount of credit must go to John Malley, the National Trust’s water advisor who steered this project from its beginning. It must be immensely satisfying for him to see it complete and working well.

    Winter is now here so our upland footpath rangers have come down from the high fells to work for me and other rangers in the Borrowdale valley. So I spent some time delivering stone for them to collect with their wheel-less wheelbarrows to take onward to their working site.

    Daisy here. 

    Poppet has come to stay. Poppet is a dog that lives with Roy’s mum and dad and she’s come to stay for a little while. It’s great. We love playing. I’m faster than she is but she can turn really quickly.

  • International Mountain Day

    10:57 04 December 2015
    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

    In 2003 the United Nations General Assembly designated 11 December “International Mountain Day”.   Celebrated every year around the globe it creates ‘awareness about the importance of mountains to life, to highlight the opportunities and constraints in mountain development and to build alliances that will bring positive change to mountain peoples and environments around the world’ (FAO, ’15).  This year the focus is promoting mountain products and with a wealth of those in the Lake District it seems only right to join in on the celebrations! 

    The Lakes- beautiful and industrial!
    As Upland Rangers we spend a large majority of our working career up in the Lake District Fells and we rely heavily on materials that come directly from the mountain on which we are working.  On all of our work sites we endeavor to use as local material as possible, which helps us to make any paths we build sympathetic to their surroundings.  Where we can, we also support the communities local to our projects, the sheep fleece paths up Martcrag moor being a great example.  The sheep fleece for these paths comes from the farmers that directly graze the land and the aggregate from borrow pits just beside the path.  They offer a great sustainable way of protecting the landscape from further erosion with materials that have rarely travelled more than a few miles.

    Mining aggregate for top surface of a path
    Picking stone ready for a new path
    But we’re not the only ones who use mountain products, from all the way back to Neolithic times when the axe factories were functioning down Langdale to our present day hill farmers, the Lake District has always been an important industrial landscape.  Which can easily be forgotten with 16.4 million tourist (STEAM 2014 - Cumbria Tourism) visiting the Lakes largely for its ‘natural beauty’. 

    Coniston coppermines
    It's not just mountain products that are important.  Mountainous areas provide 60-80% of the worlds freshwater and we all know how much and how important water is in the Lakes!  This as a resource is becoming more widely used in the Lakes with a number of hydro-electric schemes being installed to provide a sustainable power source that harnesses a natural power.  With the installation of these also comes the creation of jobs which in upland areas can be hard to come by.

    We love rain!
    As touched on before the Lakes is an incredibly popular tourist spot and it's easy to see why.  It is estimated that more than £900 million (STEAM '12) is contributed to the economy with a little over 15,000 people employed in the sector.  With a huge network of paths and great access to the mountains, the Lakes offer a retreat from the ever growing conurbations around the country.  Indeed I consider myself to be incredibly fortunate to be able to call the Lakes both my home and office.  So when International Mountain Day comes around on the 11th December have a little celebration!  

    Hurrah mountains!