News from Joe Cornforth for February 2012

  • Hedgerows - a thorny subject.

    14:27 27 February 2012
    By Maurice Pankhurst, Mark Astley, Jack Deane, Paul Delaney, Andy Warner , Daniel Simpson, Geoff Medd, Joe Cornforth

    Of all the components that make up the glorious landscape that is the Lake District, hedgerows must be one of the most taken for granted. So important from an aesthetic point of view, but perhaps even more so for the micro ecosystems that they form. Quite high maintenance, but so worth it. Now comes a great chance to learn more about these ancient land boundaries, and to get some practical hands on involvement in their conservation. The date is this Sunday 4th March, the venue is High Nook Farm at Loweswater and you can park at Maggies Bridge Car Park. This can be a bit tricky to find so look out for signs on the main Loweswater road. The grid ref is NY134 421 and the post code is CA13 0RU Come along any time between 10:00am and 2:00pm. Bring boots or wellies and we will provide gloves. Dont forget a packed lunch if you plan to spend a lot of time with us. And if its value for money that you're after, well this event is free, you cannot get better value than that!
  • Back to water - again!

    14:32 17 February 2012
    By Maurice Pankhurst, Mark Astley, Jack Deane, Paul Delaney, Andy Warner , Daniel Simpson, Geoff Medd, Joe Cornforth

    A wise man once said to me that he reckoned that over the next 50 years, water will become the biggest issue in the world. And I reckon he's not far wrong. Either too much, or too little. For me, one thing is certain. Climate change is happening. Here in the Lake District we rarely suffer drought conditions, in fact it is normally quite the opposite, what to do with all the rain that does fall! During my time with National Trust it seems that it is not the quantity of rain that has changed, but rather the nature of the rainfall. It does not seem to rain as long as it used to, but when it comes it does so in vast damaging torrents. And somehow we have had to start living with that fact and start adapting our work to suit.

    So here is the tale of an interesting job near the village of Stonethwaite. Recent flooding is repeatedly devastating this small, but significant junction of paths. It has made life awkward for farmers and for walkers alike. Gutters that cannot cope, and an ancient wall system that has acted like a dam, have combined to bring about an unsustainable situation.

    We have used contractors and a 5 tonne digger to clear out the gutters and move some key boulders into position. This has enabled us to build a low wall to protect a wooden pillar that will support 2 hecks. The hecks will allow the water to flow and spread, rather than build up & damage. Using the large boulders as edging stones we have employed the ancient skill of pitching to produce a sustainable path surface.

    Finally, with the help of our regular Thursday volunteers, Robert and Rod, we have built and positioned the new hecks.

    The job has taken a while as the cold snap limited the amount of work that we could achieve, but the job is coming on, and will be finished towards the end of February. We'll show you some "after" pictures when it is all complete.

News from Joe Cornforth

Photo of Joe Cornforth

The Lake District is a truly inspirational place with breathtaking scenery wherever you turn… and it has been my playground all my life.
I am the upland ranger in North West lakes, covering Borrowdale, Buttermere, and Ennerdale. I am responsible for supervising volunteer groups, repairing and maintaining over thirty six paths and also helping in the valley (walling, hedging, fencing etc). “How lucky you are” is a very regular comment as walkers pass our work sites. It does not always feel that way though, when you are wet through and battered by the winds, it feels like hard work! Yet still, I am blessed to work in such a beautiful place helping to conserve the local heritage I love.