Team news for March 2015

  • High Living Touch Me Not Balsam.

    16:31 28 March 2015
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    St. Catherine's is a stronghold of the nationally scarce touch me not balsam plants which are the only food source for the rare netted carpet moth caterpillars.

    As they are annuals and sensitive ones at that, the numbers of touch me not plants can vary greatly from year to year; this correspondingly affects the annual moth populations.

    Netted Carpet Moth on Balsam leaf.
    At St. Catherine's a great deal of work has been done over the years in an attempt to maintain or increase the number of plants each year; the aim is to ensure there are plenty of plants, on which the moths lay their eggs, and plenty of plants for the caterpillars to feed on.

    An image of a Touch Me Not seedling (March 20th) about the size of a little finger nail...

    ..but what is unusual is that this seedling was spotted growing at a height of six feet on the west side of the wall at St. Catherine's.

     Altogether 30 seedlings have been seen on the wall ...

    ... amongst the moss and the ferns. 

    An image of the fully grown plant in late July showing caterpillar, flower and seed pod; when it is ready, the plant material inside the pod suddenly forms into a twisted coil and this propels the seeds far and wide.

    However it was still a surprise to find seedlings on the wall...especially so high up; to my knowledge they have not grown on this wall before.

    More posts on The Netted Carpet Moth, and the Touch Me Not Balsam plant may be found on this Blog.

  • Views, Brews & Loo's

    16:06 27 March 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

    If you are a regular visitor to our blog you will have noticed that being a National Trust Ranger has many varying different tasks and responsibilities, for instance.

    The Upland Ranger, fix miles upon miles of the Lake Districts Fell top paths, their skin hardened by the elements and suntans any antique dealing TV presenter would be proud of.
    The Estate Team, endlessly & tirelessly mending broken fences and wall gaps, ensuring lost or misguided wanderlusters continue safely on their quest for the ultimate 'WOW' by simply pointing them in the right direction!
    The Woodland Ranger, rarely seen without his trusty tail wagging companion, will have a dangerous path side tree felled and tidied away in the time it takes you to consider if anyone was around to hear it fall?

    All of them take great pride in what they do! I am no different, I am ....

    Claife viewing station
    The Car Park Ranger! ... Before you swiftly scroll away to a story of epic endeavour I want you to know that I am going somewhere with this story. My main role is managing the presentation of the car parks (5 in total for the South Lakes), filling in potholes, fixing drains etc etc. I also assist the team with the maintenance and upkeep of certain areas the car parks are attached to such as Tarn Hows, Blea Tarn and so on. This means I have the pleasure of traveling around our property the most. This encompasses the sleepy village of Little Langdale, the rugged landscape of Coniston, the beautifully picturesque market village of Hawksead and the wild wild western shore of Windermere, in particularly what is known as Claife Heights, and what is a personal favourite of mine.

    welcome to Claife viewing station
    Claife is steeped in folklore, legend and history, most noticeably at Claife viewing station. Originally built in the 1790's by Rev William Braithwaite, to entertain wealthy visitors to the area. Legend has it that the windows were varied in colours to create a 'WOW' effect to the views over Windermere deemed so amazing that female visitors were given mirrors to witness the views in reverse for fear of swooning. The Viewing Station (not the Cottage & Courtyard) passed to the National Trust in 1962 as part of a 1000 acre estate. Sadly the building which once stood as a grandiose beacon for the picturesque movement had become quite derelict, and beyond repair.

    With the help from donations, legacies and various project funding (such as Windermere reflections) the station once again stands proud as a beacon of artistic movement. You can now discover this amazing structures colourful past and enjoy the Panoramic views of Windermere as they were enjoyed over 200 years ago (N.B. mirrors are not supplied just yet). The station challenges all your senses, from textures of the building, the views over lake Windermere and the slightly chilling sound of the Aolean wind harp.

    Preparing for the big day
    No National Trust property worth its salt should come without it's very own Cafe and, Claife is no exception. So after you've absorbed the views of the Lake you should wander down and grab yourself some freshly made cake, a coffee or a pot of freshly made tea from local, family-owned tea specialists 'the New Leaf Tea tasters' (located just 5 minutes away).

    The Cottages are a very recent addition to the National Trust family. They came into our possession in 2010 and were built c1800. From the early 20th century to the 1960's these cottages served as a tea garden. South Cumbria Construction, along with the National Trust labour teams have done a fantastic job of bringing these cottages to their former glory, and are in effect an attraction in their own right. Sit in, or sit outside in the young gardens underneath the wooden gazebo.

    It may only be a toilet, but we're proud of it!Now, before you set off! I have something very important to tell you! there aren't any public toilets on site. Before you reel away in outrage there was very little we could do about this, mainly due to lack of facilities. HOWEVER! this does not mean we have left you lumbered in the middle of no where with your legs crossed. Saved from closure in 2011 the National Trust took on the mantel of managing the toilets at Ferry Nab from the National Park. We've given them a fresh lick of paint and a full makeover in line with the rest of the development ...

    We hope you will come and visit us at Claife, it's testament to the hard work everyone has put in over the last year or so, and it's particularly warming to see this almost unrecoverable building standing proud once more.

    cup of tea anyone?
    standing proud
    aolean harp
    Viewing station interior
    we look forward to seeing you soon
    Craig in his natural habitat
  • A volunteer with a blog!

    07:53 27 March 2015
    By Roy Henderson

    I’m one of the volunteers that Roy often mentions and this week the blog is all ours. Pictures really do tell much more than a few words can so here are some to show you the kinds of things we do.  As you can see, it is often hard work and the weather can be cold, wet and windy. But, when the sun shines, there is no place better than here in the Lakes.

    We are volunteers and could stop doing this any time we choose but we keep coming back so that tells you that we enjoy it. There's a great sense of achievement and we have a lot of fun with the added bonus that we keep pretty fit at the same time.  Give it a try if you have the opportunity.
  • Wood Pasture Fence at Troutbeck Park Farm.

    09:36 22 March 2015
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    In partnership with the tenant farmer, the National Trust has embarked on a major long term project to improve the wood pasture at Troutbeck Park Farm.

    The work is grant aided by Natural England through the Higher Level Stewardship scheme.

    Part of the project involves fencing off a section of the 'Troutbeck Tongue.' This area will be grazed by a small number of hardy cattle. Sheep will be excluded, thus allowing wood pasture to regenerate after recent centuries! of over grazing.

    The problem was to get the fencing materials up on to this steep and difficult terrain.

    The Central and East Lakes Rangers and the Fell Rangers worked together to complete this daunting task.

    The first leg of the journey: This is as far as the 'pickup truck' and trailer will go.
    "She'll take no more Captain!"

    The next phase of the journey: The indispensable power barrows loaded up with posts. Dave, James and Steve keeping the barrow level!
    Troutbeck Farm can be seen in the distance at the head of the valley.

    Onwards and upwards. Pete and Ade, Fell Rangers, on the second leg of the journey.

    The power barrows have reached their limit and can go no further.
    Nic and Laura seen here at the start of the last and most punishing leg of the journey.

    This image does not do justice to the steepness of this incline.
    Laura, Leo and Ray making their way up the gradient.

    The U shaped Troutbeck Valley below.

    And on into the mist.

    Wood pastures are of historic and cultural importance. In addition they provide a precious habitat for rare and specialised species that are so dependent on old trees.

    Managing the grazing effectively will bring long term benefits to wildlife and the landscape by ensuring that there will be more veteran trees in the future.

    Below are images of wood pasture from previous posts.

    An ancient Alder at Glenamara Park.
    Image © S.Dowson. Area Ranger, Ullswater.

    Wood Pasture at Glenamara Park.
    Image © S.Dowson.

    A pollarded ash at Troutbeck Park Farm.

    Several related posts are on this Blog....Glenamara Park...Plantations on Ancient Wood Pasture... Trees + Cows = Wood Pasture ...Tree Planting and Pollards in Wood Pasture at Troutbeck Park Farm.

  • A dog with a blog.

    19:25 20 March 2015
    By Roy Henderson

    Hi, it's Daisy here.

    Roy missed me off the blog last week.  He's letting me have the whole blog this week so I am showing you pictures of me being a Ranger dog. Being a Ranger dog is great.

  • Nothing lasts forever.....

    10:00 20 March 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 the South Lakes property we look after millions of trees, most are in our woodland but many are large individual trees scattered across the countryside which make a huge impact on the landscape.

    Sadly nothing lasts forever this is especially true of trees, old age and the weather take their toll.  The weather this winter has seen a double whammy the combination of waterlogged ground and high winds often means we loose a few of our larger trees.

      Large ash tree fallen into the road following a night of high winds.

    Its sad when an especially large tree falls, this was the case at Monk Coniston when one of the largest beech trees fell after a particularly stormy night.

    Beech fallen at Monk Coniston.

    Phil the forester cutting the root plate.

    Gary removing damaged branches from neighbouring trees.

    The tree was 195years old so it would have been familiar to Marshall who created Tarn How while he lived at Monk Coniston.  When trees this size fall they create an enormous amount of mess to tidy up and it's a team effort to get roads and paths cleared quickly and safely.

    One of the challenges we face is how to retain these trees which are often part of famous views or paintings and ensure that there are young trees being planted to grow for the next generations to enjoy.

    Tree planting opposite Hill Top.

    Trees are planted in cages to protect them from browsing animals.  I reckon the cages should last for about 20 years, by then the tree should be established and big enough to look after itself!

    Part of the planting this winter has been to restore the designed landscape around Wray Castle in all 94 trees were planted.  We used a map from 1888 to locate where the trees were missing, sometimes there was an old tree stumps in the field so we planted replacement tree next door.  
    We planted a mixture of oak, beech, sweet chestnut, small leaved lime and sycamore much the same as the Dawson's in the 1840s when they created the Wray Castle estate.

    The footpath team down from the fells tree planting at Wray.

    Cages well on the way to completion.

    For the planting closer to the castle we re-cycled metal tree cages from Knightshayes.  The ground in the lakes must be stonier than the parkland in Devon as we couldn't hammer the metal fixings all the way home which meant some in the field adjustments had to be made!

    Me tightening the last bolt on a metal tree cage. 

    Old and new trees on Epley Head near Wray Castle.

    Richard Tanner
    Woodland Ranger

  • New Rangers on the Block

    17:39 13 March 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

    Hello! We are Ted and Abi, new volunteer rangers with the team at Boon Crag. 

    So far we’ve had a variety of work and weather testing our waterproofs to the max, wellies full of water, but soaking up beautiful views too!

    Work goes on, whether fencing or replacing a gate in a deluge – as Ruskin said: “there is no such thing as bad weather, only different types of good weather” (We may have to remind ourselves of that one!!)

    No two days are the same. Abi has been ‘chopping and shifting stuff’ at Claife viewing station. She has yet to get a well-earned brew from the new cafe opening on 28th March!!

    Ted has learnt how to use an angle grinder, the power barrow, and was asked the question ‘how do you shift a tonne and a half boulder?’ Easy: 3 rangers and a lot of grunting.

    And after.
    Before . . .

    We are looking forward to getting stuck in to the full scope of being a Ranger within such a diverse and interesting property.

    …And the most important thing we have learnt is to never be further than 10 meters from your lunch!
  • Wooden Raised Beds at the Footprint.

    08:30 13 March 2015
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    Recently we have constructed six raised beds near the Footprint, principally for visiting children to plant up and care for in the years to come.

    The raised beds were constructed from (heavyweight!) oak 'sleepers,'
      transported to site by 'power barrow,' having been cut to size with a chain saw.

    The ground has been levelled and construction can begin!

    We disturbed what we think was a cave spider at the base of the wall. It looked intimidating but I think it was harmless and it was carefully relocated!

    The timber was given the 'distressed look!"

    Broken slate and stone was tipped in for drainage prior to adding...

    ...the top soil.

    A gravelled pathway was put in around the beds, being raked out by Ray.

    A raised bed was also put in place along the top of the bund that borders the St. Catherine's/Footprint car park.

    Stepover fruit trees will be planted about 4 feet marked out by the wooden pegs. Holes have already been dug out and filled with compost prior to the trees arrival. Step over trees are single tier espaliers trained to grow between 18" to 2' high, hence their name...stepover.

    In this instance wood that could be 'trained' to follow the
     curvature of the bund was used to good effect.

    The top soil.

    The raised bed is ready and awaiting the trees arrival.
    This post will be updated, with a progress report, once the trees
     and the plants are established.
  • A potpourri.

    18:17 12 March 2015
    By Roy Henderson

    Whilst hunting for a picture recently, I realised just how many I have that you haven't seen. So today I am posting a few from the collection. Hope you enjoy them.

  • 100 working holidays and counting .....

    10:00 06 March 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

    Working holidays are a great way to get involved with the National Trust’s work and some people return many times to take part in them. Some go that extra mile though and Di Lang is a great example of this. A long standing working holiday leader (the leader is not staff but takes charge or housekeeping, shopping, menus etc), Di led her first holiday here at High Wray back in 2004 and recently returned here to lead her 100th!

    Di (left) on the 100th holiday

    Di has led holidays as diverse as Drystone walling and hedgelaying, woodland management and running events. We’re particularly thankful for her formidable organisational skills and boundless enthusiasm in leading our upland adventure holidays, where participants camp out on the high fells for three nights and work to reduce path erosion in the day.

    ‘I’m from a farming background’ Di says ‘I always used to be out with my Father when I was growing up. My career took me on a different path, running my own flooring business, but one day I noticed a hedge by the side of the road. ‘That’s a well laid hedge’ I thought, then thought ‘that’s my father talking’. So I went to agricultural college and did a few short courses, then looked into conservation holidays and found the National Trust’s Working Holidays and I’ve stuck with them ever since.’

    So what is it about Working Holidays that keeps Di coming back for more? ‘The variety, the places you go to and the people you meet. I love the extra knowledge you learn as I think your brain is still a muscle that needs working. It keeps your body moving as well! I enjoy the social elements too, meeting new people and some of their experiences and backgrounds are amazing. No working holiday is exactly the same either, you may come back to the same Basecamp but the dynamics of the group are completely different.’

    ‘The High camp ones are really special to me and I love footpath laying too. I’m off to do scything this year, because we’ve got a grassland area close to where we live and we want to turn it into a wildflower meadow. It’s new skills again. I’ve discovered I’m not really a gardener though – it’s too tidy!’

    On the fells on a camping holiday
    To cap it all, to mark the 100th holiday Di stayed on a week at the end of it and with the help of ever supportive husband Max brought her flooring skills to bear by replacing our tatty old vinyl floors with a new hard wearing surface. This looks great and should last for years to come

    ‘I sort of think of High Wray as a second home now and when I was here another time I was looking at the floors and thinking I could put a new floor down to make it more attractive for people to come here. You get a pride in your work when you’re doing something like this and it’s nice to think that other working holidays and volunteer groups will get the benefit of this in the future.’

    Di reclines on the newly fitted and very smart floor in the 'Acland' block, with 100th working Holiday presentation picture
    We’re looking forward to many more years of working alongside Di, with another camping holiday scheduled for this May. It’s thanks to the dedication and hard work of leaders like Di (and there are plenty of others too) that the National Trust is able to offer such a varied and interesting working holiday programme, enabling many people to get involved with our work and help us look after our special places for everyone.

    We’ll leave the last word to Di:

    ‘I’ll be carrying on with working holidays as long as I can, I’ve no intention of giving up. I still get excited every year when the new brochure comes out and I’m straight in there looking at where working holidays can take me this year.’

    Rob Clarke, Basecamp Community Ranger

    Find out more about National Trust working holidays here:

  • Despite the weather ... !

    11:12 05 March 2015
    By Roy Henderson

    It was inevitable really that we would have to spend a lot of time in planning the project to lay pipes across to Derwent Island. There will be three pipes on the lake bed. One will supply fresh water; a second will supply LPPG gas and the third will remove waste water. Now that the work is underway, there are clear stages to tackle and we can have a sense of achievement as each is completed.

    Last week we had reached the stage where the three lengths of piping had to be rolled out and hauled across from the lake shore to the island. These are long, heavy and cumbersome to manoeuvre so I was concerned that this was going to be a very difficult stage to complete. In fact, the combined efforts of Trust Rangers from a number of areas and the contractor’s dive team ensured that it all went smoothly. It was a lot of hard work of course but there were no unexpected problems.

    A rope was attached to one end of a pipe and the dive team took the rope across to the island. The dive team positioned a boat about half way across and from then on it was a case of hard graft just hauling and dragging the pipes. It all went incredibly well and definitely proved that many hands do make light work.

    The other big project which has been started by the fell ranger footpath guys is on Castle Crag. They are going to be building a new stretch of stone-built pitch path. This will enable us to take out an old ladder stile that is definitely on its ‘last legs’. It will make it much easier and safer for people to access the area. It will also mean that long-term maintenance should be easier to carry out. 

    That’s another job that’s going to require a lot of hard physical work but it is a beautiful place to be working if the weather is good. They’ve been a bit unlucky so far with the weather and have been working through some pretty cold, wintry showers. But, hats off to them, they have carried on regardless.

    Daisy here:

    We’ve been up Castle Crag.  It was great. I could hear peregrines. I didn’t know what they were but Roy said they were peregrines.
  • Replacing step stiles & laying a hedge.

    14:08 02 March 2015
    By Ade Mills, Pete Entwistle, Leo Walmsley

    Over the last few weeks we've continued our estate work around Langdale valley. Our first job was to lay a section of hedge next to the road near Loughrigg Tarn.

    Hedge ready to be laid 

    The hedge was predominantly Beech and contained a few trees that had been previously laid before. Some of the trees were over 15cm diameter, making it extra difficult to lay with just billhooks and pruning saws.

    Laying the hedge

    As the hedge was planted sometime ago, some of the hedge plants had already died off, which left several gaps in the hedge. Fortunately the hedge didn't need to be stock proof, otherwise we would have been better coppicing the Beech and planting some additional saplings. The main function of this hedge is to provide some extra habitat for nesting birds. When laying the hedge we managed to fill in most of the gaps but we'll reassess it over the year and perhaps add a few more saplings if required, either way it'll provide some nice nesting habitat for a variety of bird species.

    Section of newly laid hedge

    Our next job was to replace a couple of old step-stiles behind the back of the National Trust campsite in Great Langdale.

     Old step stile

    When possible, we prefer to replace step-stiles with kissing gates as they are a bit more user friendly for people, but in this instance the farmer who grazes the land had requested that the ladder-stiles were replaced as it stops the risk of the gate being stuck open and sheep getting into the neighbouring field.

     Starting work on the new stile

    We removed the old stile and had to work quickly as it was tricky getting over the wall with no stile in place. Luckily it was fairly quiet and we managed to help the few passing walkers over the wall. 

    New treads in position 

    Once we had the treads in position the pressure was off as it was at least possible to get over the wall.

    The finished stile 

    The final job was to add the platform to the top and the stile was complete. While working on the second step-stile a little further along the path a walker came by and told us he rated our first stile as "7 out of 10". We thought this a little harsh and were tempted to walk back to the stile with him, armed with a spirit-level and tape measure, and find out where we had dropped points. He obviously hadn't appreciated the accuracy down to just a few millimetres, or the perfect spacing between the treads on the platform, or the fact that that each tread was pretty much bang-on level! Needless to say we just smiled and let him get on his way. So if you happen to be out walking the path and use the new stiles (and rate them 9 or above) please do get in touch, we'd love to hear from you.