News from Ben Knipe for May 2014

  • A Natural Play Area, a Drain, and Tree guards. What do they have in common?

    16:46 29 May 2014
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    Answer: They constituted  three of the tasks that Central and East Lakes Rangers, with a Working Holiday Group, got to grips with over the course of two days.

    Ben Knipe, Woodland Ranger, who organised the work. Chain sawing in the background. (At work on the "Natural Play Area").

    The "Natural Play Area" is set among the magnificent champion conifers that make up The Tall Tree Trail situated in Skelghyll Woods, near Waterhead. For more details, please have a look at the post..."Champion Trees of Ambleside" on this Blog Site.
    Ready to lever up one of the balance beams into position.

    Hack sawing the threaded bar to length, prior to bolting up the balance beam to the supporting uprights.

    First phase completed! More "Natural Play" apparatus will be constructed in the future. All the wood  materials are found nearby.

    Meanwhile, in the same neck of the woods, a traditional open slate culvert is being constructed to replace an old, unsightly broken pipe.

    Tamping down the base stones.

    Excellent job!

    The next day, the rangers and volunteers went tree planting and constructed tree guards as part of a project to enhance the wood pasture at Troubeck Park Farm.

    Ben Knipe, Woodland Ranger, explaining what the work will involve. Note the trailer in the background with the posts and rails needed to construct the tree guards.

    The long haul! Carrying  the rails up to the tree planting sites.

    The tree has been planted. Constructing the tree  guard is now well underway.

    Countryside Ranger, Ray Gregory, working with two of the working holiday group on another tree guard.

    A completed guard, complete with young oak tree that will in time take the place of the fallen tree.

     A tree guard, overlooking Beatrix Potter's favourite farm...Troutbeck Park Farm. More tree guards may be seen in the top of the image.

    As can be seen, a great deal was achieved in two days with the help of such a willing and able Working Holiday Group.

  • Track and drainage work at Millerground.

    15:23 23 May 2014
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    The leaf mould covering the track at Millerground was getting quite thick. Neil at the controls of a JCB, scraping up the mud and leaf mould. 
    The track was wet in places, owing to drainage problems.
    In addition to cleaning the track, Neil dug a trench in order to catch surface water coming from Queen Adelaide Hill's steep slope above Millerground.
    The slope at the bottom of Queen Adelaide Hill. The Millerground track is below the dry stone wall boundary.
    Cobbles were used to make a "French drain" in the recently dug trench. 
    The finished drain. It allows water to flow freely into a pipe situated further down the slope which then empties into the beck.
    The track is now much drier underfoot, and the new drainage system is coping well, even during  recent torrential rain.

  • Working Holiday

    10:34 16 May 2014
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    National Trust Working holidays are an exciting and interesting way for people to volunteer and make a difference in conserving the environment and the UK’S heritage. Working holidays have been a part of the National trust for over 45 years and involve people of all ages involved in all types of projects helping us in our work.

    The volunteers bring with them a wealth of knowledge and new ideas, skills and experience that the National Trust and others benefit from. The holidays ensure that vital work gets addressed leading to the continued preservation and improvement of a wide spectrum of properties and makes a contribution towards visitor enjoyment and bring locations to life

    Volunteers have the opportunity to work in some amazing places, gain new skills and enjoy, often unique, experiences.

    Over the last week a team of volunteers have been hard at work at High Close. As part of a larger ongoing volunteer project of reinstating the footpath infrastructure and opening up the grounds for visitors to enjoy the group began work on reinstating the footpath from our new visitor car park into the grounds

    The path had been cleared by Cumbria Probation Group ready for the working holiday group to begin setting the edging stones and resurfacing the path.

    The group started work on laying the edging stones....

    Once the edging was in place this was backfilled with stone to surface the path...

    Some work was also done on the banking to remove invasive American Raspberry and to landscape the area ready for grass seeding

    We didn't work the group all week, the volunteers got a break and spent the day at Tower Wood on Lake Windermere. Our instructor for the day was Loz who took the group out to enjoy some Kayaking, Sailing and the high ropes tower

    A great day was had by all ....

    By the end of the week the volunteers had completed the path which now provides valuable access to visitors to the Lake District at High Close. Thank you to all the volunteers for their hard work over the week.

    To find out more about the different types of  National Trust Working Holidays visit the National Trust Website Here

  • A couple of small jobs.

    18:12 12 May 2014
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    Some of our work involves basic maintenance, or dealing with situations as and when they arise.

    The following are two recent examples:

    A small section of the private road to Long Green Head Farm, and Troutbeck Park Farm was eroding quite rapidly. 

    Digging out to create a firm foundation for the revetement and tarmac.

    The repair two weeks later and holding firm.

    Heavy vehicles such as tractors and "feed wagons" use this narrow, single track road so a prompt repair was needed before it got any worse.


    Two trees had fallen across the boundary fence between the National Trust wooded area at Post Knott and the neighbouring field owned by Matson Ground Farm.

    The fence was no longer stock proof so the trees needed to be removed as soon as possible and the fence repaired.

    A chain saw was needed to cut up this much.

    Now on to the next fallen tree

    Nearly done.

    The wood and the brash now tidied away and the fence has been straightened and is stock proof again.

  • Fleeced! (The Sheep and The Jackdaw)

    07:22 01 May 2014
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    These images were taken during a routine "patrol and litter" round in April.

    This jackdaw was seen helping itself to wool directly from a sheep's back for nesting material. Jackdaws are highly opportunistic. Why bother picking up scraps of wool from the ground, when the source is so readily available?

    Jackdaws are known to eat sheep ticks, so they may combine wool gathering with snacking! The sheep seemed surprisingly relaxed and insouciant about what was happening.

    That's a good beakful!

News from Ben Knipe

Photo of Ben Knipe

I'm the woodland ranger for Central and East Lakes working with the other rangers to manage woodlands in Windermere, Troutbeck, Ullswater, Grasmere and Langdale.
I've worked for the National Trust for over 13 years across many parts of North West of England including Staffordshire, Cheshire and now Cumbria.
My work is very varied and includes looking after ancient trees on busy lakeshore paths to quiet and wildlife rich fell side oak woodlands.