News from Neil Winder for July 2014

  • Replacing the water hecks at Holbeck Ghyll.

    03:00 25 July 2014
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    National Trust woodland at Holbeck Ghyll is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, (SSSI) denoting a protected area in the Uk.

    This site is noted for its geological features, and the fossils that are to be  found here.

    The water hecks, designed to keep livestock out of this SSSI, are clearly the worse for wear and due for replacement.


    The heck at the top of the woodland held together with twine!
    An old disused Hogg House overlooks the top heck. This derelict building was, at one time, used to protect hoggs ( 9 to 18 month old sheep) over the winter months; a hayloft was  above the floor where the sheep were housed.
    The old heck removed and construction for the replacement can begin.
    A heck of an improvement.
    The first heck completed.


    The heck at the bottom of the woodland...definitely seen better days!
    Cutting through the old beam on the lower heck.
    Bringing up more materials...a time consuming part of the work. A fair distance up to the site was inaccessible to the works 4 wheel drive....
     Taking away the rotten, scrap wood.
    A well seasoned birch log, (approx 20') with the bark stripped off and treated with wood preserver stain, is used for the main beam.

    Constructing the heck. It is designed to swing when the water levels rise and swing back when the levels fall. All the while it should be stock proof. 
    The second heck completed.

  • Ongoing Touch Me Not Balsam and Netted Carpet Moth conservation.

    09:27 16 July 2014
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    Pulling out brambles at two National Trust sites has given a much needed boost to the numbers of a scarce annual native plant known as Touch Me Not Balsam. Its main stronghold is in the Lake District but in quite limited numbers.
    Pulling out brambles at Parson Wyke. Disturbing the ground and reducing competition from brambles will hopefully allow more Touch Me Not seeds to germinate in the Spring.

    An image of the site at Parson Wyke this impressive stand of Touch Me Not where brambles were once dominant.
    A close up of one of the flowers.
    Volunteers help to pull out and cut back brambles at Millerground in March. This has had the  benefit of allowing 2200 bluebells to be planted; when their season is  over, Touch Me Not should appear in greater numbers in late spring.
    Success with the Bluebells at Millerground....
    and later on with the Touch Me Not!
    As mentioned in previous posts, Touch Me Not is the only food source for one of the rarest moths in the UK....The Netted Carpet Moth; its caterpillars (see image) are utterly reliant on this plant. Good numbers of plants are needed to maintain annual moth populations.
    A Netted Carpet Moth spotted on July 11th. These moths were extensively collected by Victorians and for quite some time the moths were thought to be extinct from the 1900s, until "rediscovered" in the 1940s at a site near Windermere.
    At Millerground invasive non native Himalayan Balsam is a constant threat. It is pulled out regularly to prevent it from displacing the Touch Me Not stands.
    Weeping sedge grass {Carex Pendula} is spreading at an alarming rate and is starting to take over some of the Touch Me Not sites. It likes similar conditions. ie damp shady woodlands.
    A small Touch Me Not almost smothered by Carex Pendula. It is sometimes referred to as a "Thug Plant" because it is potentially highly invasive. A concerted effort will be taking place to deal with it soon or otherwise some Touch Me Not stands will be completely overrun.
  • Wood Collier Weekender Event

    12:53 07 July 2014
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    *** Bookings Now Being Taken! ***


    2-3 August, £75 per person


    "The experience of a lifetime!"

    Spend a weekend in Common Wood near Windermere and live the life of a charcoal maker and woodsman. Camp under the trees, eat off a locally made charcoal BBQ and learn about the traditional ways to make charcoal and look after beautiful woodlands.

    Booking is essential, please call Ben on 07881 856459 for more details and booking information. Places are limited so please act fast!

    Charcoal burns in progress; in the most beautiful of settings. You have the opportunity to be here too!
    Ben Knipe
    Woodland Ranger
  • Animal Antics, and a bit of work.

    04:30 03 July 2014
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    An awkward wall gap between The Common Farm and Near Orrest Farm.
    A large hazel growing through the wall. The tree sways in the wind and this probably caused the wall to collapse.
     The tree was taken down with a chain saw and the wall was then rebuilt.
    The rebuilt wall.
    The farmer (unhappily) told us that sheep from a neighbouring farm had learnt to use the stone step stile in a wall, on the public right of way,to gain access to her hay meadow.
    A case of the grass being greener and tastier on the other side.
    Meanwhile, back at St. Catherine's, the Touch Me Not Balsam was looking parched; the recent long dry spell was affecting some of the plants quite badly as they are very shallow rooted. While they were being watered, Border Collie Blue decided it would be fun to get involved. 


News from Neil Winder

Photo of Neil Winder

Area Ranger-Grasmere and Great Langdale.

Growing up in the Lakes naturally progressed to working in this beautiful area. After studying Countryside management at Newton Rigg College Penrith I spent time volunteering for the RSPB at Leighton Moss Silverdale. These experiences lead to employment with the National Trust whom I’ve been with for over 14 years now.
I’ve worked on the upland footpath team carrying out footpath repairs in the area and as Warden working on countryside estate work like walling, fencing and hedge laying.
As Area Ranger I’m Responsible for planning and coordinating general operations over 7800 Hectares of countryside portfolio.
I love the outdoors, getting out side in my work and also spending time walking with my family.
I’ve been known to enjoy bursts of trail running when my energy levels are high. I also have a passion for electronic music; I was a DJ for many years and hold a qualification in computer music production.