Team news for January 2020

  • Conservation Work at Millerground and Moor How.

    13:17 31 January 2020
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe


    In late January, Windermere rangers cleared a bramble-choked bank at Millerground above the public footpath leading to the lakeshore.


    Bramble growth was choking out native bluebells that the Millerground Enhancement Group, in conjunction with the National Trust, had planted in previous years.


    In addition, this area is home to native touch-me-not-balsam, which is the only food plant for the rare netted carpet moth. Pulling out the brambles not only gives more light for the plants it also has the affect of disturbing the ground. Empirical evidence has shown that touch-me-not requires some ground disturbance to thrive, and in the absence of wild boar, us Rangers will have to do!


    Waste not, want not! The pulled out brambles were then transported to Moor How and put to good use as a barrier...


    ...to protect any potential tree or flower regeneration.


    While at Moor How a small-leaved lime was planted in one of the twelve tree cages that have recently been constructed here. This is a native tree often found in ancient woodlands in the south of the country, and Cumbria and the northeast are its northern-most strongholds. It has distinctive heart-shaped leaves, flowers that provide nourishment to many bees in the height of summer, and can be extremely long-lived.


    The tree had a tree guard placed around it to protect it from being ring barked by rabbits or small gnawing rodents.


    Finally, Natural England and Butterfly Conservation advised that if small, designated areas of Moor How were "scarified", it would assist marsh violets and primroses to colonise said areas. 


    Time for the Rangers to be wild boars again... with some help. The power-barrow was brought in to "scarify" the ground. Skilful skid turns and drifts were performed...


    ...and a border collie, well trained in the art of conservation, soon had the ground well and truly "scarified"!


    Another chosen area...Before...


     ...and after. Well done Blue (and power barrow). 

     Breaking up the rank and thick grasses (dominant through previous over-grazing) has exposed mineral soil. Native wildflowers and tree seedlings will now get their chance to shine.


  • Finishing off the footpath at Hole in the Wall

    08:28 06 January 2020
    By Ade Mills, Pete Entwistle, Leo Walmsley

    Our last upland work of the year, indeed the decade, was completing the section of footpath just below Hole in the Wall, on the way up to Striding Edge.


    Joining up the path

    We still had a sizeable section of path to complete and it was a race against the clock to get all the work finished before the onset of winter.
    Newly landscaped section of path

    Although there was a lot of rubble to dig through, most of the path was 'relatively' easy digging although we hit one section of solid bedrock towards the top of the path that slowed things down a bit. This all had to broken and prised out of the ground before the footpath could be built.

     Bedrock

    You can see some of the bedrock that was taken out of the ground to the side of the path in both the previous and following photographs. When large quantities of rock are produced it often makes the landscaping difficult, especially in areas such as Hole in the Wall where there isn't a lot of surface rock visible.

    Path before landscaping

    To blend the area in with its surroundings, much of the rock had to be moved away from the path and buried. Then soil that had been excavated further up the path was carried downhill and used to cover over the rubble. Once this was done, as usual, the area was turfed and seeded.

    Path after landscaping

    You can see in the following photograph how the original path was widening as people wandered away from the original line (here covered by stone).
     Starting a new section

    With the new path in place and the surrounding area landscaped with soil and turf, the footpath has been narrowed. Given time and plenty of grass seed, the areas around the path will become nicely vegetated. Any water running down the path will be shed away by the stone drain you can see in the photo below. All this combined will vastly reduce the amount of soil erosion.
    Finished section of path

    With the new path completed, the final job was to pitch up to an older section of path above where we were working. The path had originally been put in at ground level but over the years the soil has eroded away and had left a high step up on to the path. Eventually the path would have started to fall out, and people were already starting to avoid the step up (as seen to the left of the photo below). By adding this extra metre of path the original work will last much longer and the damage caused by people avoiding it will be prevented.

    Pitching up to the old section

    With the job completed and first few snowflakes of the year proving that winter was fast approaching it was time to head down off the fell and commence our winter work lower down in the valleys.