Team news for March 2016

  • The Jurte at Saint Catherine's.

    10:09 30 March 2016
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    Yesterday, Central and East lakes Rangers based at Saint Catherine's spent part of the afternoon erecting a 'jurte', with invaluable assistance from Debbie, the Footprint Supervisor, and her two daughters, Rosie, and Hannah back home from university.

    Jurtes originate from Germany and look like a cross between a bell tent and a yurt; they are extensively used in Germany as scout tents.

    The jurte will be used as a heavy duty shelter for green wood carving courses and for school and family bush-craft camps.

    In this image Ray and James are transporting the jurte with all its the inestimable tracked power barrow... up to the wood above the Footprint building and on to site.

    The start of the 'unboxing'.

    The main roof section being unwrapped.

    The site.

    The wild daffodils were dug up to be transplanted out of harm's way.

    The three centre poles being lashed together.

    The roof being spread out...all 8 metres of it!


    Getting ready to raise the roof.

    "...did we do that last bit correctly?  I'm not so sure, but hey ho let's give it a go!"

    Debbie, Hannah and Rosie ready to lift up the side poles having attached the guy ropes.

    Hannah supporting the wooden side pole while James hammers in the steel peg which will tension the guy rope.

    Hammering in the peg.

    The almost completed structure. There is an option for side panels but it was considered that keeping the structure open will allow people to feel more in tune with the beautiful surroundings.

    The central roof opening which may be used as a smoke vent for wood fires. There is a roof cap that can be fitted in the worst weather conditions.

    Finally, today (30th of March) Bruna, Academy Ranger who has recently moved to Saint Catherine's  for a year,  planted up the daffodils that were removed from the site yesterday.
  • New path at High Cascades

    07:27 29 March 2016
    By Ade Mills, Pete Entwistle, Leo Walmsley

    It's been a while since our last update. In that time, amongst other things, we've had a few weeks off over Christmas, spent time clearing up and checking the full extent of damage after last winter's devastating storms, and also spent a lot of time working over at Aira Force.

    Our work at Aira Force has involved re-routing a section of path near High Cascades. The original path involved clambering over bedrock and up some steep sections of stone pitched path. Not a problem for some, but for those less sure on their feet, it was an impassable barrier.

    Some people had already found a way to avoid this bit of path by going "off piste" and over a fallen dry stone wall. We decided to use this route as a rough guide to where we'd put the new path.

    The first job was to remove a section of the fallen wall to give us enough room to put in the new path and also to give us access with our power barrow. We removed the largest stones from the dismantled wall and side stones from the original path to edge our new path.

    Taking down the wall

    Completed section with wall repaired and side stones

    To give us the best line, with least gradient and no stone steps, we decided to cut the path through the steepest bank to give us a steady incline .

    Digging out and edging the steep middle section

    Finished middle section

    With the line of the new path decided, we worked out where rain would be most likely to flow onto the path. We decided to add two stone cross-drains, to remove water from the path, and three sections of pipe, to take water underneath the path. All the pipes were concealed with stone to hide them from view. Once the drainage was sorted, we started to gravel the path. We ensured that the steepest sections of path were graded out to make the path as easy to walk on us possible.

    Shortly after finishing the lower drain

    Concealed drain and original path (lower right) landscaped

    At the top of the path the original line went down some stone pitching and through a gap in the drystone wall. We removed the pitching and used rock from the wall we'd taken down earlier to wall-up the gap. We put a drainage pipe under the new path and a small hole in the wall to take the water.

     Stone pitched path and wall gap

     Repaired wall and new path with drainage

    As spring progresses and the plants spring back into life the whole area should quickly blend back in with it's surroundings and the old path should just fade away.

    Looking down the lower section of path
  • Long Term Volunteer - Hello from Dominic

    08:00 25 March 2016
    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 bloggers. I guess that’s the term or would it be hello blog readers? As you might of guess this is my first ever blog and I should probably introduce myself to begin with.

    My name is Dominic, the particularly handsome fellow with the ginger beard wondering round, and I’m one of the Long Term Volunteers with the National Trust. I’m volunteering while taking a break from my studies at the University of Cumbria, where I’m studying forestry. And I feel particularly lucky to have been given the opportunity to be part of a great team, in such a beautiful area and have enjoyed many new experiences whilst here. So I will tell you a bit about what’s been going on with me. 

    Daily Commute-No Traffic Jams Here!

    As I said, I’m part of a great team all of whom have their own projects but are always willing to lend a hand or give a nugget of advise when needed. I have been enjoying my time with the rangers doing a variety of tasks such as dry stone walling, fencing and coppicing to name a few. There have also been some larger projects going on which, I have also been able to help out with. These include the improving of habitat for fresh water pearl muscle and the building of a new tree house at Wray Castle, which is almost as large as the castle itself. 

    Tree Castle-coming to tree near you soon!
    Chess Night at the Sun (Dale looks stressed!)

    Volunteer Digs, not too shabby. 
    Cosy Cat

    Living in the volunteer cottage has been interesting and very enjoyable, except for the more than occasional unwelcome head bangs on the many low door frames, I now walk round with a constant hunch. Maybe when the tree house is done I can be the creepy ogre-ish butler with a hunch. The cottage has been mostly dry, with the occasional breakfast in your wellies, and many dark winter evenings spent in front of the fire. With my time there, I have been trying to improve my bird identification skills, starting with those around the garden and feeder. 

    Feeder Scramble: Nuthatch and Great & Blue Tits
    So with the use of my bird book and the resident expert, Dale ‘The Tit Whisperer’ Martin, I have been checking out the local birds! Dale has been the perfect person to sponge tips from, but his knowledge can sometimes stir up feelings of jealousy. Especially when he seems to be so at one with the birds. Something you just can’t teach.  
    Dale 'The Tit Whisperer' Martin, Sadly Departed (he's left - not dead!)

    On Friday every week I get to see the other side of the Boon Crag team, the Dark Side of the Boon, you might say. This day is my time with the Wood lads and for obvious reasons is called Forestry Friday. It gives me time gaining practical experience with chainsaws which are relevant to my studies. And one process I have grown fond of, is the extraction of timber using the tractor winch. This doesn’t sound very exciting and in reality its just pulling the limbless trees out the wood. It is the sound the trees make when being pulled is interesting. As the de-limbed tree is slowly dragged through the standing, by the winch, it creaks and cracks along the floor, with parts snapping and sending echoing knocks through the whole tree. And it is really quite amazing how much a winch can pull.   

    All in a Days Work, Forestry Friday 

    More recently the children book festival at Wray Castle has taking place, of which I helped with. It was very enjoyable and not at all stressful, said with a smile. I was “given” the task of guiding the children round the tree trail. Which turned out rather well really, especially when I got some feedback. While taking a group around I asked one of the children if they had enjoyed it. He turned to me and with no thought of embarrassment said “hey, but usually my pants fall down”, and with that said, we carried on with the rest of trail. Told you, not stressful!

    So what is for me next since I only have a limited time with the Trust. Well, this next year will be a busy and life changing one. I will be returning to university for my final year, of which, involves writing my undergraduate dissertation. Then finally graduating in 2017 and coming to terms with fact I need to get a job. But, before this I will be finally walking down the aisle to marry my partner, Charlotte, who will be graduating from a Midwifery degree the same time as myself. We have been dating for 7 years, I know what’s taken so long? I have heard it all before from the parents and grand parents. Their not getting any younger you know and they want little ones. Gulp! So, exciting/scary things will be happening very soon.

    That seems like a good time to finish, wouldn’t want to ramble.

    Until next time, take care.
    Charlotte and myself enjoying a winter walk


  • Wild Lettuce.

    08:30 22 March 2016
    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

    Wild lettuce (Lactuca virosa) is known for having mild sedative and pain relieving properties, due to a milky substance called lactucarium which is found in the leaves and stem of the plant.  All species of wild lettuce contain some lactucarium with various degrees of potency, and have been used by civilisations through the ages.

    Wild lettuce (Lactuca virosa).

    Min the Egyptian god of the desert and of lightening and sandstorms was always pictured with stalks of wild lettuce behind him. He was also known as a god of procreation and fertility. The ancient Egyptians alleged to possess a book of love agents that contained recipes for aphrodisiacs, many of which were said to be made with the lactucarium of wild lettuce.

    Wild lettuce (Lactuca virosa).
    The Romans used wild lettuce as a medicinal herb often as an analgesic. The Emperor Augustus, the first emperor of the Roman Empire, attributed his recovery from a dangerous illness to wild lettuce.
    Since its modern discovery by Kore in 1792, wild lettuce has also been used as an analgesic. In 1911 the British Pharmaceutical Codex used the active ingredients in lozenges, tinctures, and syrups as a sedative for irritable cough or as a mild hypnotic (sleeping aid) for insomnia. It was even prescribed to calm “irritable” children. It is available today and appears in most herbal sleeping tablets.


     In Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of the Flopsy Bunnies (1909) the rabbits feast on lettuce that proves so soporific they fall asleep and only narrowly escape ending up in Mrs McGregor's rabbit pie. When Beatrix Potter wrote these words in 1909, she would probably have been well aware of the properties of wild lettuce (Lactuca virosa).

  • A chip off the old block

    10:41 15 March 2016
    By Ivan Corlett

    Sidney the Sea Serpent has returned to Coniston having been completely recarved, painted and gilded by Peter Hall & Son over the winter period -  a rather unusual commission for our local craftsmen.

    Here is the old Sid arriving at Peter Hall’s workshop in nearby Staveley last December.

    The old Sidney arriving at Peter Hall & Son

    This is not the first time Peter Hall & Son have been involved with Gondola. About 14 years ago they did some major work in the First Class saloon - lining the ceiling with calico and supporting it with wooden vaults as well as reupholstering the seating in plush red buttoned fabric, thus reinstating the saloon to the way it had been in its original form.

    Refurbished first class saloon

    They’ve also done repair work on the old Sidney in the past, replacing rotten wood and re-gilding Sid.

    Further repair work this time was not practical because of the amount of rot to Sid. So a new Sid was needed. The first step saw blocks of English oak glued and cramped together to form a rough 'blank' from which the new serpent could be carved.

    English oak blank for the new Sid

    Whilst work was going on, the old Sid was never very far away, keeping an eye on developments.

    Here are the old and new Sids lying side by side (or perhaps more appropriately, Sid by Sid).

    Old and new side by side

    Once the body of the new Sid had been carved, the next step was to create his scales using a 'V' tool to cut the grooves of the cross hatches.

    Carving Sid's scales

    The final step was to give Sid his golden coat, firstly by applying numerous coats of yellow paint and then covering him in gold leaf.

    Gilding work begins on Sid

    After much careful gilding work, the new Sid was complete. The finished serpent is seen here with his creator, Ian, who I think you'll agree, has done a magnificent job.

    Sid and his creator, Ian

    Ian and the team brought the new Sid back to Gondola just in time for the start of the season. Here they are fixing him back on the prow of the boat.

    The new Sid takes his place on Gondola

    Most of the work on Sid has been paid for through generous donations from friends and admirers of Gondola. We’re still £1,500 short of what we need to meet our target, so the fundraising is still going on. 

    Find out how you can Support Sidney.

  • Help from the South lakes Rangers and Volunteers at Birdhouse Meadows.

    10:14 07 March 2016
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    Recently we met up with rangers from the South Lakes team and volunteers. They had generously offered their help in taking down and removing an old  fence at Birdhouse Meadows, at the north end of Windermere, prior to us putting in a new fence.

    As we left our base at St. Catherine's, on our way to meet them, we were struck by the view. Above the cloud inversion from right to left can be seen the snow covered Langdale Pikes, Great Gable, Bow Fell, Scafell Pike, and Crinkle Crags....

    ...and south of them, Wetherlam.

    Volunteers and rangers hard at work dismantling and removing the fence, flattened by recent floodwater. Much of the stock netting was very rusty and needed digging out from the ground....note. this is how the cloud inversion looks at a lower level!

    The wire fence had been put in years ago to supplement the old iron railing fence that was no longer stock proof. This too was removed in the interests of safety and the fact it was so unsightly!

    Part of the old fence being taken away...a mixture of rotten fence posts, old stock netting and extremely rusty iron railings.

    Loading up the trailer. Many thanks to the South Lakes team and volunteers for their invaluable help. Sadly the cloud or temperature inversion stayed with us at this lower level all day. It made for dank and clammy working conditions.

    With the old fence cleared away, contractors with a tractor fitted out with a 'post knocker' came along to knock in the 'strainer posts'. (snow covered Red Screes makes a nice back drop!) This was a few days later when the temperature inversion had long much clearer skies.  They were already contracted to do some work in the adjoining fields to the Trust owned Birdhouse meadows.

    knocking in a 'strainer post'.

    A section of the new fence.

    ...and a close up view. Some sections of railing proved to be too difficult to remove as the trees and their roots had grown around them and held them fast. An angle grinder powered by a generator will have to be employed at some stage to complete the job!
  • Hosnian Prime in Borrowdale

    12:00 03 March 2016
    By Roy Henderson

    Over the years, we’ve had a large number of films, TV series and commercials filmed in the Borrowdale  area. I can remember seeing on TV a Heinz soup commercial that was filmed at Ashness Bridge many years ago when I first began to work here.  Since then I’ve seen filming for many Ken Russell films, Miss Potter, Inside the National Trust, Coronation Street, many more commercials and lots of mini-series.

     Here are some pictures of Daisy on some of the Star Wars locations.

    The most recent and largest is Star Wars which I am sure many of you will have seen by now. I spent some time with the locations manager for the film and, after discussion of what they needed, was able to suggest a few possibilities. His final choice of views in Borrowdale would be very recognizable if you know the area.

    It’s easy to understand why so many film-makers would choose the Lake District and in particular Borrowdale. It is stunningly beautiful and very easy to access so many superb view-points. And, of course, there is lots of good accommodation available for the film crew.

    Daisy here, I’ve been to Hosnian Prime