News from Leo Walmsley for August 2011

  • National Trust Working Holiday at Mickleden

    09:24 22 August 2011
    By Ade Mills, Pete Entwistle, Leo Walmsley

    Over the last week we've had a group of volunteers on a National Trust Working Holiday helping us out with some path repair at Mickleden. We had a group of ten, who were all stopping over in accommodation at the National Trust High Wray Basecamp, four miles outside of Ambleside.

    On the first day we had to carry all the tools up to the work site, so we shared out mattocks, shovels and crowbars between everybody and headed up towards Rossett Ghyll where we would be working for the rest of the week.

    Volunteers starting work on the first day

    The group was split into pairs, and each pair given a section to work on, and with four staff at hand it meant we could give everybody plenty of help and guidance. The first day is always the hardest, as it takes a lot more digging to get the first course of pitching in the ground, and the stones you start with are always deep ones. By the end of the day everyone had made a good start and had their first few stones in place.
    As the week went on everyone started to get the hang of things and began to get more of an eye for how the stones should fit together.

    The path starting to take shape

    Unfortunately, as is becoming usual for August in the Lake District, the weather didn't remain dry throughout the week and there were lots of heavy showers about. Even on Tuesday when the weather was particularly bad, everyone remained in good spirits and kept up the good work.

    Working hard through rain, and shine

    By the end of Thursday everybody was making good progress and several of the sections only needed another course, or two, to join up.

    Not much further now...

    On the final day we managed to get each of the sections joined and most of the landscaping completed too. Everybody had a really good time, although a few people had said it was much harder work than they'd imagined it would be. As with previous years the standard of work was fantastic.

    A job well done!

  • Replacing old pitching at Mickleden

    11:56 05 August 2011
    By Ade Mills, Pete Entwistle, Leo Walmsley

    A couple of weeks ago we made the decision to have a break from our work on Stickle Ghyll and move our attentions onto the Mickleden project.

    The section we are working on is an area that had been previously pitched in the 1980s, when the path was very badly eroded. As the path was originally repaired before the use of helicopters for moving stone to site, all the rock would have been gathered by hand from the fellside. Due to this limitation, the stone used wasn't always ideal, meaning the resulting path was steep, straight and with numerous large steps, making it uncomfortable to walk down. This has led to people stepping off the path and walking alongside it, which has once again started to cause problems with erosion. As it is a common complaint, especially with some of the older paths, that the steps are too high, we decided to address the issue.

    Pete levering a stone into position

    Although the path had massively improved the damage being caused to the fell, we decided that we could now fly in a few extra bags of stone and make it more user-friendly. There are often constraints that mean steps need to be a little higher than would be desired, such as the gradient of the path and any underlying bedrock or boulders. So to take some of the gradient out we have decided to re-align the path and put in some bends, meaning the steps don't have to be quite so high.

     New pitching in place, with old path to the right

    Where possible we are reusing sections of the original path and mixing it in with the new rock. We have saved all the turf that has been dug off and this will be used to landscape the old path, meaning it should blend in with it's surroundings much more quickly than if it was just seeded.