Latest news from James Archer

  • From Mighty Acorns....or Shed Some Light.

    11:22 22 October 2018
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    As part of a woodland management scheme, a group of oaks were due to be felled in High Hag Wood above the Footprint.

    James Archer, (Area Ranger CEL), decided the wood could be put to good use for constructing a green oak  fire-wood store/tool shed to replace the old delapidated one.
    Group-felling breaks up woodland structures, where trees are of a similar age and size...creating new gaps with more light encourages oak, rowan, birch, and hazel, to regenerate.

    By developing patches of trees of differing ages and sizes, woodlands will become more varied and diverse.
    Liam Plummer,Central and East Lakes, Woodland Ranger.

      Richard Tanner, the Woodland Ranger for South lakes, had already agreed to lead a Working Holiday Group to construct the framework for the shed out of the felled oak. Richard has successfully led groups at Wray Castle and Base Camp on similar 'green oak' building projects. 
    Contractors with a chain saw mill processed the oak logs into timber to the required specifications.

    The timber was brought down to the Footprint by power barrow.
    Joinery work (NO NAILS!) was carried out inside the Footprint as well as outside on the decking. The frame work was assembled inside the Footprint and then taken down to be reassembled on its chosen permanent site.


    Richard casting a critical eye!
    Assembling the frame-work on the newly prepared pad.
    Below...
    A job well done and right on schedule! With Richard's skillful guidance, The Group can be justifiably proud of what they have achieved in just a week.
    *****************************************************************************


    Larch cladding was provided by NT Boon Crag sawmill. The next stage was to to fit this around the oak framework, to show it off to its best advantage.

    Putting on the roof was the next stage.
    Roofing complete and under the eaves a newly installed nesting box.
    The smaller of the two doorways under construction.
    Finally the build is complete with doors and beautiful rustic handles.

     Thanks to Richard and Hugo from South Lakes, the Working holiday Group, Boon Crag saw mill, Ian Taylor and Stuart Morley.
  • A Monster Wall Gap...rebuilt through effective team effort!

    07:00 11 October 2018
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    Having been weakened by Storm Desmond back in December 2015 a large section of wall finally collapsed, in several stages, above 'Seldom Seen' overlooking Ullswater.

    NT Rangers and volunteers from Ullswater and Windermere had the daunting task of rebuilding it!

    The wall is adjacent to the footpath to Sheffield Pike; the gap was over 30 feet in length.
    The wall was severely undermined by torrents of water. This section had to be taken down  to allow replacement foundation stones to be reset.
    One of the truly massive foundation stones being levered back into place; this was not a task for the faint of heart!
    Another, even bigger stone...
    ...was finally re-positioned with a few choice words of encouragement!
    A view of the foundations gradually being put in place. It can be seen how steep the slope is;  many of the stones had tumbled down the bank and they had to laboriously be brought back up again.
    Again, it is clear to see in this image just how steep the slope is.
    Walling up on the low side of the wall.
    The old concrete pipe was damaged in the wall's collapse so a new wider diameter pipe was brought in as a suitable replacement.
    Walling over the pipe.
    The wall is over 10 feet high on the down slope and at this stage the walling will have to be completed from the high side by walling 'over-hand'.
    The pipe is in position ready to take the flow of the beck the next time it is in spate.
    Some of the biggest stones we have seen in a dry-stone wall.
    The wall is well on its way to completion
    Another view with stone still to be dragged up the bank to be used in the wall.
    Putting on the top stones or cams
    Nearly up to height...
    ...and a view of the completed wall. The pipe will be trimmed but some overhang is desirable to allow the flow of water to clear the wall and hopefully reduce the chance of damage to the foundations in the future.

    It took a team of between three and four, (depending on the days worked), to complete the work in just under five days.

  • 'Rare Albion cattle recognised on the RBST Watchlist'.

    06:56 05 October 2018
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    Extracts from Media Release Issued: 03/10/2018.

    'Surviving against the odds, an historic cattle breed has been formally recognised for the first time since the 1960's. Rare breeds Survival Trust has just welcomed the very rare Albion cattle onto the Watchlist as a recognised UK native rare breed.'

    'Gail Sprake, Chairman of RBST said, "Here at RBST we proudly boast that no breed has become extinct since we formed in 1973, but we so easily could have been proven wrong by failing to recognise these cattle. The Albions have had a dramatic reversal of fortune since their heyday in the 1920's, but we hope that this recognition will herald the start of a new chapter for the breed"

    'The National Trust look after an historic herd at High Lickbarrow near Windermere which means the public can admire and support this incredibly endangered breed'.

    In the light of such encouraging news for the future of the Albion breed, here are some images that I have taken over the last three years of the wonderful Scoutbeck Herd of Albions at High Lickbarrow.


















  • A Stitch In Time

    07:50 21 August 2018
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

     The country-side rangers duties include regular patrols, usually on a weekly basis, of the lake-shore properties to check on any problems and deal with them.
     Litter picking and  pulling out invasive himalayan balsam takes up a fair amount of this time.
    Whilst checking Galava, located  at the head of Windermere, we discovered that there had been a collapse over the covered culvert through which Fisherbeck runs; sometimes the culvert is unable to contain the volume of water, after heavy rainfall, and it will find a weak spot and punch a way through.

    As this culvert is close to a very popular footpath to the Roman Fort, and the fact cattle graze this area we needed to repair it as quickly as possible!
    We put in place a large traffic cone to warn of and at the same time cover the hole.
    Luckily we were able to locate a large slate to cover the hole.

    With the recent heay rain it wasn't possible to effect a full rebuild of the collapsed culvert but this will be done when the water levels have dropped.

    This sort of problem does highlight the importance of regular patrols, particularly of the most popular sites!
  • Natterjack Toad Night Walk at Sandscale Haws.

    07:19 30 April 2018
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    Sandscale Haws, near Barrow in Furness is an important site for the nationally scarce Natterjack Toad. At 8 pm I went on an organised Natterjack Toad walk, here, led by two National Trust rangers, Neil and Andy, on 7th April 2018.
    One of the board walks at Sandscale Haws Nature Reserve.
    A sand dune breached by a storm. The landscape is very dynamic. The dunes are often shifting and changing shape.
    Natterjack toads are nocturnal and have evolved to breed in transitory water bodies. The name 'natterjack' is derived from the loud mating calls made by the males. The jack (or toad) that chatters!
    Sandscale Haws.
    One of the pools at Sandscale Haws where the toads were in fine voice. The males' mating calls can be heard up to a mile away on a still night!
    Searching the area by torchlight for toads...
    Success! A young male is seen. Note the distinctive yellow band running along its back. 

    I enjoyed my experience at Sandscale Haws and this was in no small part due to the knowledge and enthusiasm of the two N.T rangers Neil and Andy who led the walk.

    FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE CLICK ON THIS LINK BELOW.

    Sandscale Haws website

    Below is an impressive video of a Natterjack in full cry!

    Natterjack Calling
  • Let Battle Commence....(the ongoing work to eradicate Himalayan Balsam.)

    13:40 04 April 2018
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    At Millerground , nationally scarce native Touch-Me-Not Balsam seedlings are starting to appear. 


    Unfortunately seeds washed down-steam last Autumn have allowed invasive Himalayan Balsam seedlings to be  present as well... encroaching on Touch-Me-Not. (see image below taken April 4th.)
    The cotyledon, the embryonic leaves in seed bearing plants (see above image) are the first leaves to appear from a germinating seed..

    Even at this very early stage it is possible to spot which are native plants and which ones are invasive!
    To give the Touch-Me-Not seedlings their best chance the Himalayan balsam seedlings have been pulled up..Hard to believe that in a few short months these seedlings would have had the ability to grow upwards of 10 feet tall!

     Himalayan Balsam is by far the tallest annual plant in the UK and will easily out-compete Touch-Me-Not, and indeed, other annual plants...
    Above is an image of Himalayan Balsam taken in late June; this large woodland stand has become a mono-culture in that no other plants can grow such is its dominance.
    Early to mid Summer is the usual time to start control work before the plants have a chance to set seed.
    Strimming can be highly effective.
    In this image the Himalayan Balsam has been pulled up by hand and then snapped below the bottom node. 

    If  left on on the ground intact Himalayan Balsam can sprout new roots and survive very easily.
    The image above is of Touch-Me-Not balsam also taken in late June. Under the right circumstances it too can form a mono-culture but in much smaller stands than its invasive cousin.
    As mentioned in previous posts Touch-Me-Not Balsam is the food plant for the rare 
    Netted Carpet moths' caterpillars.
    Finally here is an image of a Netted Carpet Moth on Touch-Me-Not Balsam.
  • New natural play area at Aira Force

    06:43 28 March 2018
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe


    A new natural play area has been built at Aira Force. A small unused patch of grass next to the Tea room was identified as the perfect spot.

     



     

    For some time the catering team had witnessed children climbing (and falling off) the wall that surrounds the Tea room, not only is this dangerous for the children, but it spoils what is a fantastic view of the Lake.

     



    The work originally started the week commencing Monday 26’Th of February. As some of you may remember that was the week the ‘Beast from the east’ arrived.

     

    We managed to get one day of digging in before the snow hit, and the Tea room turned from this.

     



     

    Into this.

     



     

    After the snow had melted and we could get the digger back on site we carried on clearing the top layer of turf and soil. This provided us with the basis to start constructing the play area.

     


     

    The idea was to use local timber that had recently been felled in the valley, thus saving costs and using a local natural source to build the play features.

     

    There were plenty of ideas from the rest of the team on what should be installed; they ranged from a wooden crocodile! To a bird hide mad from logs. It was finally decided that some natural balance beams and stepping stones would be most practical and user friendly.

     

    Once a rough outline of where the obstacles needed to go, the digging, cutting and chiselling could take place.

     





     

    Finally a wooden edge was put in to help prevent the gravel from the path, and the bark from the play area mixing. This was ably put in by some of the Aira Force volunteers (Roger, Diane and Martin).

     



     

    Once the edging was in the play bark could be laid and the grand opening could take place




     

    A special thanks to one of the Rangers daughters in helping to cut the ribbon.
  • High on a hill live lonely old tree planters!

    12:07 27 February 2018
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe


    On a wintry February half-term week and in full view of the busy (and often snowy) Dunmail Raise near Grasmere, National Trust staff and volunteers were hard at work on the slopes below Helm and Mungo Crags. Their mission? To traverse these steep and rocky slopes in the name of restoring scrub woodland…
    
    Tree planting above Grasmere - there could be worse views!
    

    
    The power-barrows - and their operators - relish a challenge...
    


    Funded by Natural England, this involved planting 6ha of the slopes with typical ‘scrub woodland’ species – hawthorn, blackthorn, crab apple, holly and rowan, along with some silver birch, aspen and alder. Upland scrub is a valuable and often under-appreciated habitat; far from being “scruffy” and in need of tidying, the presence of scattered shrubs and trees provides valuable homes for insects, lichens, birds and small mammals, which in turn feed larger birds and mammals. The flowers of species such as hawthorn and crab apple keep pollinating insects happy, whilst their fruit can be a bounty in the autumn. And the roots of these trees and shrubs help to stabilise soils and improve the ability of slopes to hold water, reducing and slowing the water running off hillsides into rivers during rainy periods.
    
    The scrub woodland will provide habitat and ecological benefits in the centuries to come
    

    Fresh from their success as ‘Volunteers of the Year’, the Lake District’s Fix the Fells volunteers put in an impressive show of numbers to help plant the 1,800 trees that went in the ground during the week. Students from Myerscough College also came up during their holiday, learning how to plant and linking this to their Upland Management course.
    
    A good turn-out of staff and volunteers helped achieve a great number of trees being planted in difficult conditions
    


    We were also joined by volunteers from the University of Cumbria, as well as stalwarts of the Ullswater and Great Langdale volunteer teams. Staff from the National Trust’s regional office just over the valley in the Hollens also pitched in, experiencing first-hand a hillside they would normally look at from afar in their warm and cosy offices!

    
    Planters struggle on, despite driving rain and steep slopes
    

    The planting was far from easy;  on a couple of days the weather threw its worst at us, as Allan Bank Manager Dave and Woodland Ranger Liam tried to capture in this video!



    The weather may have been trying, but all involved can look up at this prominent hillside with pride. There are still more trees to plant, hopefully in more amenable conditions!, but even so, look west next time you’re passing on Dunmail Raise and you’ll see a great example of the National Trust’s ambitions to restore a healthy, beautiful, natural environment.

    
    The planted intake is visible from far below, and even from Dunmail Raise
    


  • Hedge Laying in the snow at Townend.

    17:00 06 February 2018
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe


    The hedge bordering Townend House car park had been flailed for many seasons up until now.  
    Last season the hedge was allowed to grow so that it could be re- laid more effectively.
    This image shows the new growth from the previously flailed stems.
    The hedge consists of thorn , ash and hazel.
    This image shows a section of laid hedge.
    Another view with the road beneath running alongside.
    Pleaches at the base of the stems (usually made with a billhook) give them the flexibility to be laid down. 
    The stems are interwoven to give the hedge strength and support.
    The hedge was planted along the top of the roadside wall many years ago.
    The difference in levels between the car-park and the road is considerable, making hedge laying a challenging job.
    The view from the car-park of a heavy snow fall.
    Later in the day working conditions improved when it stopped snowing..
  • A Tribute to Volunteers 2017

    08:00 13 December 2017
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    Examples of the invaluable work of volunteers ...in and around the Windermere area.


     
    Working Holiday Group

    Lake-shore revetment work Cockshott, Windermere.

    Windermere School working at St. Catherine's.

    Thinning out ash and disturbing the ground to encourage growth of Touch-Me-Not Balsam in Spring..
    ..and collecting leaves for adding to the walled garden compost bins.

    Cumbria National Trust Volunteers.

    Tidying up the area in and around High Lickbarrow Farm

    and taking down an old redundant fence.

    First year Forestry students, University of Cumbria

    working on a double fence line to protect a soon to be planted hedge at High Lickbarrow...

    ...under somewhat challenging conditions!

    Stuart, long term volunteer, at St. Catherine's

    constructing a 'hedgehog house' from scrap wood.

News from James Archer

Photo of James Archer

Lead Ranger for Great Langdale and the Lowther Commons.

I've worked in the Lakes for over 30 years now, with the last 28 for the National Trust! Originally I was involved with estate work and footpath maintenance. This lead on to a real interest in Public Access and the realisation that this landscape is so important to so many people around the world.

When not at work my interests are archaeology, geology, walking , mountain biking and now a (slightly nervous) novice sea kayaker!

Blog:
http://centralandeastlakesrangers.blogspot.co.uk/
Phone:
07796 186680
Email:
james.archer@nationaltrust.org.uk