Team news for March 2019
Townend bench repairs.
09:30 20 March 2019
By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben KnipeYew wood is strong, dense, and resistant to decay; this has made it ideal for delicate carving work, turnery, and furniture. it was famously used for making English longbows given the wood is strong yet flexible.Most parts of yew are poisonous, but the chemical toxin is now being used as a treatment for cancer.Two of the rustic benches, made from yew, at Townend were in need of repair. After many years some rot had appeared.A lower limb of the right shape and size for these bench repairs was removed from a yew in the woodlands at St. Catherine's. Pruning a small branch will be of limited concern to the tree as its strong and decay resistant wood will limit the amount of decay entering the cut. Yews are famously strong at regeneration and unusually for conifers will re-sprout from many points...like deciduous pollards.Given the historic use of yew wood for furniture, it seems appropriate to use the branch from a Windermere yew to repair benches made of Troutbeck yew! Long term volunteer, Stuart kindly undertook to do the work.A close up view.One of the benches repaired by Stuart with two new spindles and arms, ready to be returned to Townend House.
Fencing at High Lickbarrow Farm, Windermere.
09:01 15 March 2019
By Ade Mills, Pete Entwistle, Leo WalmsleyOver the last few weeks we've been working over at High Lickbarrow Farm in Windermere putting in around 400 metres of stock proof fencing.
High Lickbarrow farm was bequeathed to the National Trust in 2015 and is home to the rare Albion cattle, formerly known as "Blue" Albions. The Albion has recently been recognised as a UK native rare breed and added to the Rare Breeds Survival Trust's watchlist because of its rarity. High Lickbarrow Farm supports the largest herd in the country.Blue Albion cattle at High Lickbarrow
The farm covers fifty hectares of land which has traditionally been grazed by only a small number of cattle and supports some fantastic wildflower rich pastures, much of which has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).Knocking in the straining posts
Our first job was to get the straining posts into position. Usually this is done by hand and one person can generally dig in and tighten into position, two posts each day. As the fence line was so long and undulating, it meant there were a lot of straining posts to put in. Luckily, as the farm provided good access, we were able to speed the job along by getting a local contractor to come in with a tractor mounted post knocker and the whole lot were in place in less than a day.Adding the struts
With the strainers in place, a single length of plain wire is attached between each post. This gives a straight line to help align the struts and fence posts. Struts are added to prevent the straining posts from moving while the wire is being tensioned. With these in place we then knocked in fence posts every two metres between the straining posts.Adding the stock fencing
Once all the struts and posts were in position it was time to attach the stock fencing. This is connected between straining posts and tightened to the required tension using two pairs of "monkey strainers".Attaching the barbed wire
With all the stock fencing completed the next job was to add a single strand of barbed wire.Section of post and rail fence
To make sure the fence was completely stock proof we added sections of post and rail fencing between straining posts and other boundaries such as dry stone walls or hedges (as shown in the photograph above).Starting work on the gate
To finish off we incorporated a gate into the fence line to further improve access.Finished gate, just needs another small section of post and railYou can learn more about Albion cattle by clicking on the link here... Albion Cattle Society
Hedge Laying in The Langdale Valley.
12:00 01 March 2019
By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben KnipeHedge Laying originated from the need to keep livestock in fields after the acts of Enclosure in the 16th century. Nowadays more emphasis is placed on the value of the habitat that a well laid hedge can provide for small mammals and birds; hedge laying also promotes traditional skills and they look good in the landscape.
Our main project for February was to lay 135 metres of a hawthorn hedge that was planted 10 years ago at Harry Place Farm in the beautiful Langdale Valley. This also involved taking down the fence on the top side and replacing it with a new fence.A close up of the hedge and the old fence; as can be seen the posts have become very rotten and unstable!With the fence removed the hedge laying begins. An axe or a bill hook is used to partially cut...a technique known as pleaching... into the back of the stem at an angle to just above ground level. The trick is to leave enough sapwood and bark for the stem to flourish and yet make the stem pliable enough to be be be laid down.On thicker stems a chain saw is used to speed up this process.A pruning saw is used to cut back to the remaining section of the stem, know locally as a ligger, once it is laid.A view of the ligger and the partially coppiced stump from which new growth will usually occur to be laid in years to come.The hedge is taking shape .Weaving in the branches and twiggy bits .Starting on the new fence by digging a hole for one of the strainer posts.The newly laid hedge complete with hedging stakes hammered in alternately on either side; they are used to "train" the hedge, give it strength, and to keep it to a required width.A Herdwick sheep enjoys munching on a discarded branch from the hedge laying.Incidentally, Herdwick is derived from the old Norse Herdvyck meaning sheep pasture!The completed hedge with one of the larger hawthorn trees left upright as a "standard" with a view of the Langdale Pikes and Blea Rigg.