News from James Archer for March 2012

  • Dora's Field and Wordsworth's Daffodil trail

    19:26 25 March 2012
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    We are getting ready for a new partnership where Dora's Field in Rydal will be opened as part of the National Garden Scheme "Wordsworth Daffodil Legacy trail". Saturday 1st of April will be the day where people can follow the trail from Cartmel to Carlisle with two National Trust gardens playing there part to the wonderful trail.

    To celebrate all things Daffodil and Wordsworth’s Lake District legacy seven locations throughout Cumbria are taking part in the National Gardens Scheme’s Daffodil Day – 01 April 2012.The properties involved are Holker Hall (Cark-in-Cartmel), Summerdale House (Nook), Dora’s Field (Rydal), Rydal Hall (Rydal), Acorn Bank (Temple Sowerby), High Moss (Portinscale) and Carlisle Cemetery (Richardson St, Carlisle). From 11am until 4pm they are all throwing open their gates and holding a Wordsworth Daffodil Day to allow the public to see a crowd, a host, of golden daffodils.
    Originally called the Rashfield derived from rush field as the damp nature of the ground would have originally supported mainly rushes.

    Purchased from the Backhouse family by W Wordsworth in 1826 as a defence strategy. The Wordsworth's were tenants of Lady Anne le Flemming at Rydal Mount behind Doras Field from May 1813, in 1825 Lady Anne announced her intention of giving the tenancy of Rydal Mount to a relative. Under threat of eviction, and desperate not to be forced away from the idyllic Rydal, William purchased the field and made it clear to Lady le Fleming his intention of building on the field in what ever way he wished (this would have been right in the view from Rydal Mount). Indeed pay a famous Kendal architect George Webster to draw up a design.

    In the event this contingency plan was not needed as the threat was withdrawn. The family retained the field and it was given to Dora, Williams daughter.When Dora tragically died William, his wife and Gardener went and planted hundreds of Daffodil bulbs in her memory.
     The field (0.6ha)was gifted to the National Trust by the Gordon Wordsworth in 1935 for the benefit of the public.  The National Trust maintains the paths and prevents the open areas from returning to woodland and losing the open views.  The are also benches to allow visitors to pause for a moment amid the hectic rush of life. 
     Volunteers helping resurfacing paths
    Crushed slate is used from our local quarry in Elterwater 
     Fallen limbs from trees are stacked to create habitat pile for Beetles and spiders and other small Fauna
     The Chapel of St Mary at Rydal was funded by Lady Le Fleming of Rydal Hall. Started in 1823, it was completed the following year. A tower, nave, and chancel make up the church, which has seen repairs and renovations during the 20th century. The ‘chapel’ has been dropped from its name. Located just down the hill from Wordsworth's home, Rydal Mount, he helped choose the church site, originally the Le Fleming orchard.

    So if your in the Rydal area on the 1st April, then please call in to Dora's field and say hello, we will have volunteers and National Trust Rangers on site to answer any questions and talk about the history and management of this wonderful location.

  • Nordic Walking..........ever wanted to give it a go?

    11:55 19 March 2012
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    Well here is your chance. The National Trust Grasmere Ranger Team, with the help of Debbie Jackman, nordic walking instructor, and Nordic Walking UK, are giving you the chance to try this rapidly growing sport, as part of our Grasmere Gallop 2012. Go to for full details, including your chance to try a `taster session` absolutely free.

  • I wandered lonely as a cloud

    15:24 16 March 2012
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    On the 15th of April 1802 William and Dorothy Wordsworth were travelling back to Grasmere after staying the night at Eusmere in Pooley Bridge and in doing so came across the daffodils that inspired William to write the poem "I wondered lonely as a cloud". It was Dorothy that wrote in the Grasmere Journal how they had seen the daffodils under the boughs of trees and among the rocks on the lakeshore and William then wrote the poem in 1804. The daffodils can still be seen today in the same place near to Glencoyne car park on the shores of Ullswater, they are early this year and are just about out so if you want to see them you had better come in the next couple of weeks or so.

    Every January before the daffodils start to come through, we clear the brambles and dead bracken so the daffs can be seen in thier glory.

        I wandered lonely as a cloud that floats on high o'er vales and hills when all at once I saw a crowd, a host of golden daffodils.

    Beside the lake, beneath the trees, fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

    William Wordsworth was a frequent visitor to the Ullwater area and wrote three poems about Aira Force the most well known being the "The Somnambulist" an ancient tale of Knightly love and death.
  • Langdale to London....and back again.

    15:23 09 March 2012
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    Now, I`m prepared to bet good money that you were not expecting to read an article about a National Trust property in London on this blog. Let me explain.

    The Blewcoat School, located in the heart of London, moments from St. James` Park and Westminster, is a coffee shop with a difference. Managed by Janet, this beautiful Georgian building has an amazing history. That it survived the war and pressures of development, right in the centre of Westminster, is a story in itself.

    Janet and her brilliant team (including Rosanne, NT Council and Volunteer) have the ambition to produce the best sandwich in London. By my reckoning, something that they have already achieved! With free Wi Fi for all customers, this really is a little of oasis of calm in the centre of the city. 

    We are building links between our two properties, sharing information and promoting events for each other. Judging by the number of `hits` on the Grasmere Gallop web site, from the London area, then this is already proving to be really successful. 

    The Blewcoats School, Westminster. The best coffee shop in London!

    So, if you find yourself in London this year, perhaps for the Jubilee celebrations, the Olympic Games or just sightseeing, please call in and say hello to Janet and her team. Say that the Grasmere & Langdale Rangers sent you.

  • Hedge laying

    11:15 07 March 2012
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder

    During the last few weeks here in Ullswater we have been laying a hedge that we planted 15 years ago. This work involves cutting back some of the side branches and then cutting most of the way through the stem of the tree and laying it down flat on the ground and from this lots of new shoots will grow up to create a new hedge. This hedge consists of Hawthorn,Blackthorn, Hazel and some Willow and once it is layed it will provide great habitat for nesting birds.

      The hedge before we started

    Laying in progress
    Close up of a layed hedge.
    The finished job.
  • Aira Force in full force

    16:01 06 March 2012
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder

    Aira Force is a popular tourist attraction but most visitors come during the summer when there is little water in the beck. So here is a clip of the water fall in full force after a lot of rain and a quick thaw of snow off the fells. It is the highest I've seen it!

    Aira Force in full cry!

  • The Grand Fir of Skelghyll Woods

    19:28 04 March 2012
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder

    Our Rangers in the Lake District have discovered the tallest tree of its kind in England growing in one of their woodlands. The Grand Fir, which stands at 57.8m high, has now been crowned the tallest tree in Cumbria and the tallest Grand Fir in England. 

    The Grand Fir of Skelghyll Woods
    Officials from the Tree Register, the body which keeps a record of the UK’s notable and ancient specimens, have confirmed the Fir’s giant status. Lead Ranger John Pring had called in specialist arboriculturists to help him measure the tree’s dizzy heights - and also decided to capture the experience on video, with the help of Dreamtime Film, an award-winning Cumbrian film company.

    The Grand Fir was planted in around 1860 as part of an arboretum at the Wansfell Holme country estate. The area is now known as Skelghyll Woods and is a mixed oak woodland with the addition of a small selection of conifers. John said: “A survey 20 years ago suggested that some of these trees were going to get really big. We decided to get them resurveyed this year and Toby Fisher, a local forestry consultant, kept coming back with the same figure for this tree. We knew it was something special and decided to get it more accurately measured. “It really is a rather splendid specimen so it was great news when it was confirmed as the tallest tree of its kind in the country, as well as the tallest of all the trees in Cumbria.”

    Mark Sigrist and Mick Lupton of Aspen Tree Management scaled the tree, then used a long badminton pole to reach the top of the tree’s highest branches where they weren’t able to climb. They also placed a camera at the top for some time-lapse photography and to record the amazing views across Windermere and beyond. John said: “I’ve worked with Mark and Mick on numerous occasions and they are used to me asking them for weird and wonderful things!  Not so long ago I sent them to the top of some lime trees armed with a freezer bag and a pair of scissors to snip the top shoots, known as ‘sun leaves’, for a research project. They’re more used to carrying chain saws up trees than little pairs of scissors!”

    At 57.8m or 189.6ft, the Skelghyll Grand Fir is higher than Nelson’s Column (51.59m) and taller than a dozen double decker buses stacked on top of each other.

    If, as thought, it was planted in 1860, that was the year Charles Dickens published his first installment of Great Expectations, Britain produced 20% of the world’s output of industrial goods, JM Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan was born, and the Pony Express mail delivery service was launched in Missouri.

    The Grand Fir, or Abies Grandis, originated in Canada and is widely seen across North America. The tallest tree in the whole of the UK is a Grand Fir, located in Argyll, which stands at 211ft (64m).

    See the film footage of the measuring of Skelghyll’s Grand Fir

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!

07796 186680