The Upland Footpath team returned to the fells at the start of April to commence this year's projects. This coincided nicely with a stretch of good weather.
Our first project of 2015 has been on the path up Tongue Gill to Grisedale Tarn, near to the village of Grasmere.
|View up Tongue Gill during our commute one sunny April day|
This path is on the Coast to Coast route devised by Alfred Wainright. This long distance route, of around 190 miles, goes between St Bees in Cumbria on the Irish Sea to Robin Hood's Bay on the Yorkshire Coast. The Coast to Coast route is one of the most popular long distance routes in the UK. It is also well known worldwide and the number of international visitors we have met seems to reflect this.
The team were able to start this project immediately as rock we were using had been flown into position during last year's helicopter lifts. This rock was donated to "Fix the Fells" by a private land owner who last year completed a hydro-electric scheme on Tongue Gill. This surplus rock was a by-product of the excavations during construction. We always try to use rock that is local to an area for our work so this donation was gratefully received.
|Rock donated from Tongue Gill Hydro bagged up & ready to be moved|
|Rock being moved to site along Tongue Gill last May |
As a popular route lots of work has been carried out on the Tongue Gill path over the years to tackle the problem of erosion. Path work is then monitored as new erosion can develop and previous work sometimes needs "fettling". This year's project involves a typical range of remedial work including drainage, stone "pitching" (both repairs and new) and landscaping work to stabilise erosion and remove side routes.
|Recently completed stepping stones and a causeway through a wet section|
|Drainage work in progress|
(University of Cumbria students, Jake & Theo, who volunteered for a couple of weeks)
A memorable part of this project for the author of this blog led to the title "A Reluctant Rock". Whilst working on a new section of stone pitching a suitable rock was identified. This rock was on the large side but was manageable and had several good faces making it an ideal step for walkers to plant their feet on as they follow the path.
Towards the end of the first day, as time was running out, a slightly rushed decision to move the rock into position was made. Unfortunately the rock dropped into the hole at an awkward angle and refused to be manoeuvred into the desired position.
The hole around the rock then had to be filled to leave it safe until the next time.
|The "reluctant rock" at the end of the first day|
On the return it proved very difficult to get the desired leverage on this rock with a metal bar and bedrock kept getting in the way. Lots of digging, levering and chipping away at the bedrock followed but still the rock remained largely uncooperative.
|Lunchtime on the second day fast approaching & rock is in a "new" position... |
Determination and patience were needed plus a reluctance to be "beaten" by a rock and it was eventually coaxed into position by lunchtime (albeit a slightly later lunch than normal).
The saga of this rock did provide a talking point and possibly some amusement to passing walkers. Comments to a colleague working further down the path mentioned the size of the rock and one couple commented on their return journey that "He's still working with the same rock....".
|After lengthy negotiations a compromise has been reached|
This reluctant rock was used for part of a longer section of work. Some side route erosion was developing next to some bedrock between two sections of stone pitching. This is because some walkers have a tendency to avoid bedrock.
To solve this we decided to add more stone pitching to join up the two current sections and to use landscaping techniques to stabilise and remove the side route. This can be seen from the before and after images below:
|BEFORE: Side route erosion developing to the right of a bedrock section |
|AFTER: New stone pitching section built & side route removed|
At the time of writing this blog our time on Tongue Gill is nearly finished. This is ahead of schedule largely due to the volunteer help we have had.
We have several other projects this season including a return to Striding and Swirral Edges to continue work we have been doing there. We also have a project near the summit of Coniston Old Man where significant erosion problems have been developing.
|Moving rock to the summit of Coniston Old Man in April|
(Project due to start in August)
If you would like to know more about the daily work of the South Lakes Upland Ranger team they can be found on Twitter @NTLakesFells.
Posted by: Nick, Upland Ranger