Latest team news - page 2

  • Townend bench repairs.

    09:30 20 March 2019
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    Yew wood is strong, dense, and resistant to decay; this has made it ideal for delicate carving work, turnery, and furniture. it was famously used for making English longbows given the wood is strong yet flexible.
    Most parts of yew are poisonous, but the chemical toxin is now being used as a treatment for cancer.
    Two of the rustic benches, made from yew, at Townend were in need of repair. After many years some rot had appeared.
    A lower limb of the right shape and size for these bench repairs was removed from a yew in the woodlands at St. Catherine's. Pruning a small branch will be of limited concern to the tree as its strong and decay resistant wood will limit the amount of decay entering the cut. Yews are famously strong at regeneration and unusually for conifers will re-sprout from many points...like deciduous pollards. 
    Given the historic use of yew wood for furniture, it seems appropriate to use the branch from a Windermere yew to repair benches made of Troutbeck yew! Long term volunteer, Stuart kindly undertook to do the work.
     Stuart is using a shave horse, used for green wood-working, at St. Catherine's to clamp the wood in order to remove the bark.
    A close up view.
    One of the benches repaired by Stuart with two new spindles and arms, ready to be returned to Townend House. 
  • Fencing at High Lickbarrow Farm, Windermere.

    09:01 15 March 2019
    By Ade Mills, Pete Entwistle, Leo Walmsley

    Over the last few weeks we've been working over at High Lickbarrow Farm in Windermere putting in around 400 metres of stock proof fencing.

    High Lickbarrow farm was bequeathed to the National Trust in 2015 and is home to the rare Albion cattle, formerly known as "Blue" Albions.  The Albion has recently been recognised as a UK native rare breed and added to the Rare Breeds Survival Trust's watchlist because of its rarity. High Lickbarrow Farm supports the largest herd in the country.

    Blue Albion cattle at High Lickbarrow

    The farm covers fifty hectares of land which has traditionally been grazed by only a small number of cattle and supports some fantastic wildflower rich pastures, much of which has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

     Knocking in the straining posts

    Our first job was to get the straining posts into position. Usually this is done by hand and one person can generally dig in and tighten into position, two posts each day. As the fence line was so long and undulating, it meant there were a lot of straining posts to put in. Luckily, as the farm provided good access, we were able to speed the job along by getting a local contractor to come in with a tractor mounted post knocker and the whole lot were in place in less than a day.

     Adding the struts

    With the strainers in place, a single length of plain wire is attached between each post. This gives a straight line to help align the struts and fence posts. Struts are added to prevent the straining posts from moving while the wire is being tensioned. With these in place we then knocked in fence posts every two metres between the straining posts.

     Adding the stock fencing

    Once all the struts and posts were in position it was time to attach the stock fencing. This is connected between straining posts and tightened to the required tension using two pairs of "monkey strainers".

     Attaching the barbed wire

    With all the stock fencing completed the next job was to add a single strand of barbed wire.

     Section of post and rail fence

    To make sure the fence was completely stock proof we added sections of post and rail fencing between straining posts and other boundaries such as dry stone walls or hedges (as shown in the photograph above).

     Starting work on the gate

    To finish off we incorporated a gate into the fence line to further improve access.

    Finished gate, just needs another small section of post and rail

    You can learn more about Albion cattle by clicking on the link here... Albion Cattle Society 
  • Hedge Laying in The Langdale Valley.

    12:00 01 March 2019
    By Roland Wicksteed, Dave Jackson, Dave Almond, James Archer, Neil Winder, Ben Knipe

    Hedge Laying originated from the need to keep livestock in fields after the acts of Enclosure in the 16th century. Nowadays more emphasis is placed on the value of the habitat that a well laid hedge can provide for small mammals and birds; hedge laying also promotes traditional skills and they look good in the landscape.

    Our main project for February was to lay 135 metres of a hawthorn hedge that was planted 10 years ago at Harry Place Farm in the beautiful Langdale Valley. This also involved taking down the fence on the top side and replacing it with a new fence. 
    A close up of the hedge and the old fence; as can be seen the posts have become very rotten and unstable!
    With the fence removed the hedge laying begins. An axe or a bill hook is used to partially cut...a technique known as pleaching... into the back of the stem at an angle to just above ground level. The trick is to leave enough sapwood and bark for the stem to flourish and yet make the stem pliable enough to be be be laid down. 
    On thicker stems a chain saw is used to speed up this process.
    A pruning saw is used to cut back to the remaining section of the stem, know locally as a ligger, once it is laid.
    A view of the ligger and the partially coppiced stump from which new growth will usually occur to be laid in years to come.
    The hedge is taking shape .
    Weaving in the branches and twiggy bits .
    Starting on the new fence by digging a hole for one of the strainer posts.
    The newly laid hedge complete with hedging stakes hammered in alternately on either side; they are used to "train" the hedge, give it strength, and to keep it to a required width.
    A Herdwick sheep enjoys munching on a discarded branch from the hedge laying.
    Incidentally, Herdwick is derived from the old Norse Herdvyck meaning sheep pasture!
    The completed hedge with one of the larger hawthorn trees left upright as a "standard" with a view of the Langdale Pikes and Blea Rigg. 

  • Wall repairs and deer exclosure at High Close estate

    08:35 04 February 2019
    By Ade Mills, Pete Entwistle, Leo Walmsley

    Since the new year, we've come down from the upper fells and have started doing some estate work around the valley.

    Our first job was to repair a couple of sections of dry stone wall at Low Wood, on the High Close estate just outside Grasmere.

     Section 1 before starting work

    With the wall keeping livestock out of Low Wood, it was important that the gaps were repaired quickly to prevent sheep from entering the woodland. This helps both keep the tenant farmer happy and also stops sheep entering the woodland and nibbling away at early woodland flowers such as Snowdrops and Lesser Celandine.

     Section 1 after repairs

    As a small Ash tree was growing close to the wall, and was likely the cause of it falling down, we decided that the tree should be removed to prevent any further damage.

     Rear of Section 1 during work

    Trees growing close to a dry stone wall can often destabilise it, especially during strong winds, either by brushing against the wall and loosening stones or by the root plate moving and damaging the wall from below.

     Rear of Section 1 after, with tree stump in foreground

    Removing trees like this can also be beneficial by allowing more light into the woodland, which helps woodland flowers to flourish and also gives other trees more space to grow.

     Section 2 before starting work

    The second section that we worked on was more pre-emptive as it had started to lose stones from half way down the wall and would likely collapse in the short term. The wall was stripped back beyond the area of collapse to where the wall was more stable and  repaired in the usual manner. Both wall gaps took roughly a day to repair.

     Section 2 after repairs

    Our next job was to build a deer exclosure in a small woodland on the edge of Loughrigg Common. The area, known as Billy Plantation, had recently been thinned and as a bit of a trial we've put up a couple of deer exclosures to see how the woodland develops without any grazing pressure. If the trials go well we may look into stock proofing the whole plantation at a later date.

    Erecting the deer fence on Loughrigg
  • Finishing the footpath at Stone Arthur

    13:54 08 December 2018
    By Ade Mills, Pete Entwistle, Leo Walmsley

    Since our last post, we've finished our upland path repair work for the season; culminating in the completion of the footpath up Stone Arthur. You can see how the path looked prior to us commencing work in a previous blog post here... link

    Lower Section (completed and landscaped)

    There's still a lot of bare soil visible, as many of the photos were taken just before, or just after, putting the grass seed down. Although it was late in the year, hopefully the grass will start to germinate next spring. We'll have a look at it next year and put extra seed down if required.

    The following two photographs show work on the tricky bedrock section. The surrounding area has since been landscaped by moving large quantities of soil on to the lower side of the path below the drain and then edging with turf (you can just see a pile of turf that was kept to one side on the left hand side of the second photo).

    Building the drain on the bedrock section

    Bedrock section after joining up to the middle section

    The next series of photographs show the completion of the middle and top sections. The middle section turned out to be particularly wet due to water flowing just under the surface, out the bank and on to the path. To remedy this we dug out a long side trench (not pictured) on the bank above the path that fed into a stone drain.

    Working on the middle section

    Middle section joined to top section

    Completed top section

    Further up the path we worked on another section that had started to deteriorate due to people taking different lines while descending a section of bedrock. The damage was exacerbated by the volume of water that flowed down the path during wet weather.

    Before starting work on the bottom section

    Bottom section (completed and landscaped)

    You can see how we've removed three separate paths and created one sustainable line. We've also incorporated three stone drains into the section of path to remove as much rainwater as possible.

    Bedrock part of top section

    This section of bedrock at the top was the root cause of much of the damage so the path was continued around it up to a point where the path started to flatten off.

    Finished section before landscaping

    Landscaped top section

    With our Fix the Fells work completed for the year we'll now be working lower down in the valleys, on National Trust land, until next spring.
  • 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.

  • Revisiting Boredale Hause

    07:15 08 October 2018
    By Ade Mills, Pete Entwistle, Leo Walmsley

    We recently had a site visit over to the bridleway coming down from Boredale Hause to check how things were looking and catch up with the South Lakes team, who are still working up there.

    Bottom section before starting work

     Bottom section (after)

    This series of photographs shows how the path looked either prior to commencing work, or just after landscaping, and one month after the landscaping once the grass seed has started to grow.

     Lower section (before)

     Lower section (after)

    You can immediately see the difference now the grass has started to grow, as the eroded area has been considerably narrowed. The erosion is wider in many places than can be seen in the photographs, as much of it is hidden by the piles of rock.

     Lower Section 2 (before)

      Lower Section 2 (after)

    It's still early days for the grass growth, as the banks are still very mobile and it can easily be set-back by sheep, dogs, or people walking over it. If the grass can be left undisturbed for a year, it is much more likely to withstand walking on.

    Sheep also have a tendency to be attracted to this fresh growth, but as it is just developing the sheep tend to pull the seedlings out by the roots as they are unable to cut through the grass with their teeth. This uprooted grass, of course, perishes.

     Middle section (immediately after landscaping)

      Middle section (one month later)

    Most of the turf that was placed alongside the path, which had originally struggled due to the very dry summer, has now started to grow. This will help keep much of the soil off the path if disturbed by sheep wandering over the banks.

     Upper middle section (immediately after landscaping)

     Upper middle section (one month later)

    It can take time for everything to properly settle down and it's also likely that some of the grass will die off during the winter, so we'll keep a close eye on things and carry some more bags of grass seed up when required.

    Bedrock section (immediately after landscaping)

    Bedrock section (one month later)
  • '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.


















  • Repairing the footpath up Stone Arthur

    06:40 17 September 2018
    By Ade Mills, Pete Entwistle, Leo Walmsley

    About a month ago we started work on our second upland project of the year over in Grasmere, on the footpath up Stone Arthur.

     Rolling the rock into position

    When we had the rock moved to site by helicopter last year it was impossible for the stone to be dropped exactly where we needed it. Because of the steepness of the slope and the presence of a large Sycamore tree many of the bags had to be dropped away from the area where we need to work.

     The rock on site and ready to use

    Our first job was to roll several tonnes of rock down, and across, the hill to where we needed it for the path repairs.

     Lower section (before)

    The main part of the job is to divert the footpath around an area that was badly damaged by a landslip during the Storm Desmond flooding. The original path-line skirts around the fellside a few metres below where we're working.

    Lower section (after)

    During the landslip that washed away the path, a large area of bedrock was exposed that proved difficult for many people to navigate. Because of this, numerous new paths were created and vegetation was being lost rapidly as water flowed through these newly trodden routes.

     Bedrock section (before)

    You can see the new line of the path going up and around the area of exposed bedrock in the photographs above and below.

    Bedrock section (after)

    Much of the area is quite boggy, due to the hard ground and bedrock just below the surface (which caused the landslip as the overlying saturated ground washed away), so we've incorporated plenty of drainage to help keep water off the new path.

     Working on the middle section

    We're also making use of a large gully that has been created by both water and walking boots, by diverting the path around on to an alternative route and turning the gully into a large drainage channel to help remove water from the area.

     Top section (before)

    Due to the hardness of the ground and having to spend several days moving rock around the site, the job is progressing slightly more slowly than we'd have hoped. But once completed, the new path will make a real difference. We'll be able to remove several old paths, improve the drainage of the area, re-vegetate areas that have been worn down to the soil and make it much easier and safer for people out enjoying the fells.

    Top section (after)