Team news for October 2016

  • Variety

    03:45 28 October 2016
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    Last week, Monday 24th of October to Friday 28th, a number of small jobs were ticked off by the ranger team at St. Catherine's.
    Lets start with a fallen oak blocking the footpath at Bordriggs Brow, Bowness on Windermere.
    After our usual Monday morning litter sweep of the lake shore properties, Jenkyns Field, Cockshott Point and Millerground, we set to work.
    With the path clear, the cut up oak was transported back to St. Catherine's...
     ..."processed" into firewood and stacked in the log store for seasoning, ready to be used in the Footprint wood burner.
    Next up four farm gates for High Lickbarrow  Farm were undercoated and later painted in high gloss red. This colour is quite a feature of the farm's "colour scheme"!
    This is the five foot gate, dazzling!..the other three gates are ten foot in length.
    Next on the agenda, stone setts were used to create a defined border between the walkways, grassed area, flower beds and raised beds around the Footprint building.
    Looking, dare I say, not bad!
    the power barrow, proving its inestimable worth yet again, was used to collect gravel and distribute it along the walkways around the raised beds.
    The power barrow was also pressed into service to collect stones washed down
    in the floods and then cleared into heaps along Troutbeck.

    These stones will be used to landscape the newly dug out pond in the walled garden at St. Catherine's.
    Our last job, during the week, was to repair a woodland wall gap above St. Catherine's. (The metal hurdle was put in place in case sheep were brought into the field before the wall had been rebuilt.)
    Yes Blue! You are a great help!
    Almost there.
    Done and dusted. Back to the Bat Cave to write this post, have a coffee, and wind down for the weekend!
  • Friday 21 October

    15:27 21 October 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

    The Basecamp Toolstore...A Photo Essay.

    In early September we held a green woodworking holiday, using traditional techniques to build a new Basecamp toolstore. This is that story...


     Removing the old shipping container…careful not to take the toilet block out while you’re at it…
     …or the small dog…!

    Sayonara shipping container! You have served us well but we need an upgrade

    OK, let’s cover all the surfaces. Things are about to get serious

    “Here’s one I made earlier”…Our woodland Ranger, and Project Manager – Richard, briefing the troops, with the woodstore built on a previous holiday as an example.

    Hmmm, that’s a lot of wood. A few daunted looking faces there…

    Let’s get to it! This toolstore ain’t gonna build itself…

    Especially if the boss is sitting down on the job.

    Measure twice, cut once, as they say…We had to get measurements spot on to make sure everything would fit together perfectly

    …But preferably not your own fingers – Eyes down Gary!

    Show him how it’s done Jane! Textbook sawing...

    Second-in-command Claire overseeing a measurement. Any errors meant holidaymakers were put on half-rations…

    Concentrating hard on getting that jowl post right…at least the sun’s shining

    An industrious scene, little changed from the Middle Ages…

    Another timeless technique – here’s Tony making the wooden pegs for the frame. These were traditionally used to avoid costly iron nails (a tradition kept alive by National trust budgets).

    …And relax…

    Making sure the frame fits together…with a little gentle persuasion from Mr Sledgehammer.

    Ged the dog overseeing on-site assembly.

    Lots of fun was had putting the frame together…

    Watch out for that car window! I don’t think my insurance covers oak-framed timber buildings.

    The finished frame, and a happy bunch of campers…

    But the toolstore wasn’t finished no siree…Richard and Claire came back with regular volunteers John and Ian to carry on with the roof and cladding

    Hard at work to get it finished (most of us)

    Gadzooks! Almost finished and looking great…Just needs a roof and a door and she’s good to go…come back soon guys!!











  • Friday 14 October

    09:00 14 October 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

    Time machines

    Most people like trees. Some people love trees.  Most people can name a few species of tree. Some can name hundreds.
    Most people have a favourite tree tucked away somewhere, it could be huge, tiny, tall, short, fat, thin, gnarly, smooth or wrinkled.  It might have a special significance because of memories or experience.

    I look at trees almost every day of my life the fields and woods of the South Lakes are full of fantastic trees so its taken me a little while to decide which one to nominate for  

    After much thought I decided on the huge old alder at Boon Crag here's why;

    The alder in 2012.

    Alder are not generally a long lived tree and so rarely reach this size which is relatively common in oak.  
    Being responsible for managing such an important tree often means making some difficult decisions, how much do we intervene with tree surgery?  Do we let natural processes carry on which might result in alder's death? 
    Often something else happens which modifies our management of the tree, this happened in the winter of 2013.

    Crown badly damaged by storms in 2013. 

    Trees are naturally resilient and the alder bounced back the following spring with loads of new epicormic growth from the remains of the trunk.

    Summer 2015.

    I felt that in order to protect the epicormic growth, and other important habitats around the tree from browsing we needed to fence the tree.

     Tree fenced summer 2016.

    Trees of this age support a huge number of specialist organisms from bats to beetles and birds, fungi to flies, retaining and protecting old trees provides vital habitat.

    Wood mould inside the hollow trunk vital for saproxylic invertebrates.
    Aerial roots within the trunk are also sometimes found in hollow trees, the alder is re-using nutrients made available by the fungal decay of its own wood!

    Wrens nest in the hollow trunk.

    Epiphytes living in the damp decaying hollows found on the old alder.

    Fallen branches left top decay close to the tree.

    Check out the website and nominate your favorite Cumbrian tree.  Or if you want to find out more about veteran trees and their management have a look at The Ancient Tree Forums website

    Richard Tanner
    Woodland Ranger
  • Touch-Me-Not Balsam and Netted Carpet Moth Conservation with Windermere School

    08:00 14 October 2016
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    St. Catherine's is an important site for scarce annual touch me not balsam plants. It is the UK's only native balsam, with the Lake District being its principal stronghold.
    One of the rarest moths in the UK, the netted carpet moth, is totally reliant upon touch me not as it is the only food source for its caterpillars.
    Unlike its relative, the highly invasive himalayan balsam (see above), touch me not is incredibly...if not... annoyingly fussy about its growing conditions! It likes nutrient rich soil in damp open woodland with just the right mixture of sun and shade. It also is very bad at competing with other plant species so it tends to opportunistically colonise bare or disturbed ground where it is sometimes able to form dense stands.
    Nettles, creeping buttercup, and brambles overwhelmed some of the touch me not stands at St. Catherine's last Summer, so to give the plant a boost for next year with a hopefully corresponding increase in moth numbers, a more intensive conservation programme has been initiated.
    Students from Windermere School have been most helpful in pulling up nettles, brambles and disturbing the ground.
    Incidentally, in NT Coniston woodlands, cattle have been instrumental in increasing the plant numbers hence moths by poaching the ground most effectively during Autumn and Winter months..sadly not an option at St. Catherine's!
    Forks have proved useful in digging over the ground; the aim is for the touch me not seeds to germinate more readily and establish dense stands in Spring with the competition from other plants largely eradicated from this area.
    Mrs Julie King, Director of student pathways & careers, from Windermere School also helped with the conservation work... seen here getting to grips with a deep rooted bramble!
    These images of the netted carpet moth were taken by Richard Dennison during a 'Moth Night' at St. Catherine's on the last Thursday in July 2016; he kindly gave permission for them to be used on this blog-site..
    ..Excellent images.

    More conservation work will be undertaken at St. Catherine's right up until late March or until the first touch me not seedlings are spotted! 
  • An Upland Summer

    12:13 07 October 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

    As the dark mornings and evenings close in, it signals that we're nearing the end of the fell work season. Four months back I joined the upland ranger team and in this relatively short period we have literally covered miles. We've been involved in projects across the Lake District working alongside the other upland teams, volunteer groups and the dedicated 'Fix The Fells' Lengthsmen.

    It's been a fantastic chance to learn the ropes of Upland erosion work whilst experiencing the Cumbrian mountains in the best and also the not so best weather, I learned my first lesson quickly - buy a waterproof camera. Here are few sights and experiences of a summer in the fells.

    Early morning Coniston and Peel or 'Wild Cat Island' 

    Typically we start early in the morning around seven, this is a great opportunity to see the lakes in a more tranquil mood.

    Walking to Brown Cove Crag on Helvelyn
     After we meet at base we drive to the area or mountain we're working on and set off on foot to our work site, this can sometimes mean walking all the way to the top. Second lesson - breakfast is the most important meal of the day.

    Looking down to Thirlmere from the Wythburn path whilst clearing drains

    The character of the fells can be dramatically changed by the weather so we come to work prepared with warm clothes, water proofs and emergency shelters.

    Looking towards Steel Fell from Helvelyn

    Trying to prevent or reduce erosion on the fells is our main aim. Currently we're working on Goats Hause just below the summit of the Old Man of Coniston. This is a highly popular path and this is evident by the multiple path lines running side by side. With the help of the Fix The Fells Lengths men we are trying to a define a single line and re- vegetate the the sides of the new path.

    Joe and the Lengthsmen working on Goats Hause. On the Left is Dow crag and right in the background sits the Scafell range

    Drain built from local stone

    Sometimes rock is flown in by helicopter to use on site, how ever in this case on Goats Hause the rock is gathered in situ whilst we work.

    Often when on the fells we get to see some of the hardy creatures that reside on and around them.

    Golden - ringed Dragonfly
    This is a Golden - ringed Dragonfly. This chap has one of the longest bodies of any European insect and is more likely to be found near fast flowing rivers and streams.

    Violet Ground Beetle
    Here is a Violet ground Beetle which when seen up close has a very distinctive violet strip around its sides. As well as living on/in mountains they are commonly found in gardens much to the joy of keen gardeners as they predate pests such as slugs.

    That's it for this for this week so here are a couple of photo's some the awe inspiring views to be found in the lakes.

    Threshthwaite Cove

    Threshthwaite Cove - U- shaped glaciated valley

    Thanks for reading!