News from Paul Kear for February 2013

  • Welcome to the Lakes...

    09:22 28 February 2013
    By John Atkinson, Nick Petrie, Paul Kear , Richard Tanner, Rob Clarke, Glenn Bailey, Sarah Anderson, Sam Stalker, Ian Griffiths, Matthew Allmark, Stuart Graham, Paul Farrington, John Moffat, Craig Hutchinson, Clair Payne, Luke Sherwen

    This is a special 'extra' Rangers' blog post to mark the arrival of National Trust colleagues from around the North West region (and some from further afield too!) joining us today in the Lakes for our annual pre-season Spring Conference. As the conference is in the Low Wood Hotel, Ambleside it's a 'home fixture' for the South Lakes team and the rangers have something special up their sleeves.

    8.45 getting our exhibition stand ready before delegates arrive


    11.15 Conference in full flow at the Low Wood .....


    While our Ranger colleagues are busy at Brockhole making the outdoor activities ready for the delegates who will be arriving at lunchtime.





    11.45 The first group takes to the boat from the Low Wood jetty heading for Brockhole ....


    First the boat trip .... and those brilliant views!



     Then arriving at Brockhole...



    At Brockhole and ready to try their hand at various activities organised and run by the Rangers, like flying a kite, Tramper riding and the popular broomstick-making.




    Then back to the Low Wood for lunch with finished brooms clutched in hand ... And then the second group, who had lunch first set off for their turn.....



    2.15 By now everyone was back in the conference room for the afternoon session.

    A great time was had by all; lots of people were saying this was the best conference they had attended and refreshed from their trip out they were set up for an interesting afternoon with presentations from the other speakers including our new Director General Helen Ghosh.

    With weather like this and the chance to 'get out and closer to nature' to enjoy it we think the 2013 Conference will be remembered (for all the right reasons!) for a long time (and thanks to Windermere Lake cruises for the lovely boat trip too).


    post Linda
    photos (sent as they happened and seen on our stand in the conference room) John M and John A.
  • Take The Steps To The Station

    08:33 22 February 2013
    By John Atkinson, Nick Petrie, Paul Kear , Richard Tanner, Rob Clarke, Glenn Bailey, Sarah Anderson, Sam Stalker, Ian Griffiths, Matthew Allmark, Stuart Graham, Paul Farrington, John Moffat, Craig Hutchinson, Clair Payne, Luke Sherwen

    This month the Path Rangers have been working on a footpath at Claife Station, which is on the west side of Windermere, near to where the car ferry comes across from Bowness. In one of the earliest guide books for the Lakes published in 1778 by Thomas West, the author referred to this site as special for its picturesque views of Windermere and the surrounding area. A decade or so later the Station or “Belle Vue” as it’s sometimes known, was built by the Rev William Braithwaite and at the height of its fame, the building was used for gatherings, dinner dances and tea parties.  In the late 19th century the Station had fallen from popular imagination and pictured below is how the building looks today.

    The Station
    One of the main access routes to the ruins is up a stepped path from Ash Landing Car Park and over the years some of the steps have fallen out and so the Path Team was called upon to try and return the steps to their former glory. The work involves taking out the old steps and re-setting them back into the ground. Hopefully the new work should allow easy access to the ruins for everyone to enjoy the views and the Station.

    Always one step ahead
    As far as worksites go, this has to be quite special. Below is a picture of the view from the steps.There are plans afoot to develop the whole site in the near future so watch this space for future developments.

    View from the worksite
    Another task the team have been involved in is some upland path maintenance with the Fix the Fells Lengthsmen, doing a bit of a spring clean on the Nab Scar path just outside of Ambleside. Most of the work involved stopping short cuts on the route. The picture below shows the footpath on the right hand side and a short cut that has developed in the centre. Although it may not seem too bad a problem at the moment, if left, the scar could get worse with a heavy loss of vegetation to the side of the path. To solve the problem we try and encourage people back on to the original path line by blocking the short cuts.

    Nick working on a shortcut
    Whilst working on the path we noticed this sheep on the photo below.It’s obvious the sheep doesn’t like the path or the surrounding green grass to walk on but prefers to get around on top of the dry stone walls.  I guess it has more options as to where the best grazing is.

    The grass is always greener
    Finally, our fleet of vehicles here in the South Lakes is currently undergoing a bit of a makeover and here is a picture of the first one to arrive back.  Look out for them on the road when you’re out and about in the Lakes.


    By Ian Griffiths - Upland Ranger South Lakes
  • Ranger Recovery Services

    20:50 16 February 2013
    By John Atkinson, Nick Petrie, Paul Kear , Richard Tanner, Rob Clarke, Glenn Bailey, Sarah Anderson, Sam Stalker, Ian Griffiths, Matthew Allmark, Stuart Graham, Paul Farrington, John Moffat, Craig Hutchinson, Clair Payne, Luke Sherwen

    
    Final few feet to the top, Hawkshead Hill
    

    As you may have notice, this week there was a just little bit of precipitation! Wednesday morning bought about five inches of snow to Coniston and the surrounding area, and with it came the adventures of trying to get up even the smallest of slopes without a four wheel drive.






    Even the rangers made a tactical retreat at lunch time, but not before we got involved in the recovery business for a bit.
    The  picture above is a guy that very nearly made it. He had got to within ten foot of the top of Hawkshead hill, and no further.  We did get him to the top; all he had to do then was get down the other side!  
    These ones are of one of the rangers, Sam, towing one of our holiday cottage visitors out of the Claife Estate woods.
    Recover agent, Mr Sam Stalker
    
    Out of the woods at Trees holiday cottage, Claife
    


    Although it did cause mayhem, it was rather pretty and it just goes to prove that as a ranger your never a hundred percent sure what the day will bring.
    
    Sunset from High Cross
    


  • Massive goalposts!

    11:36 08 February 2013
    By John Atkinson, Nick Petrie, Paul Kear , Richard Tanner, Rob Clarke, Glenn Bailey, Sarah Anderson, Sam Stalker, Ian Griffiths, Matthew Allmark, Stuart Graham, Paul Farrington, John Moffat, Craig Hutchinson, Clair Payne, Luke Sherwen

    What have massive goalposts got to do with woodlands I hear you ask.......

    In the South Lakes woodland we are often moving large loads of timber around which means large machines, either our forwarder working in the woods or timber wagons collecting timber and taking it to sawmills around the country. Where extraction routes pass under power lines we use goalposts to warn drivers so they don't crash into powerlines with their timber cranes and black out large parts of the Lake District!

    Craig cutting a pipe.
    In this case we had to use large concrete pipes to hold the uprights as we couldn't dig holes because of bedrock.

    1-0 to the rangers, Goalposts finished.
    The heavy snow a couple of weeks ago brought down a lot of branches mostly from oak trees which meant that the whole ranger (and footpath) team split up to clear up what we could from roads and footpaths, even with all that manpopwer it still took 2 full days and the forestry team are still dealing with loads of braches stuck or hanging up trees.

    Damage to an oak on the shore of Windermere.
    With all the melting snow becks have been very full and in some cases have flooded.  One of our farm tenants asked if we could do something to stop his fields flooding and getting covered with gravel from the beck.
     
    Sycamore tree diverting the beck across the field.
    An afternoon spent with a chainsaw and mini digger solved the problem (we hope!)  We cut one of the offending limbs back which allowed some gentle digging to deepen the beck, the material we dug out was then used to create a bank to stop the flooding across the field.

    Digging out the beck.
     
    Work finished hopefully the beck will stay in its channel.
     

    Richard Tanner
    Ranger - Woodland
  • Hit by snow but avoiding bullets!

    17:13 01 February 2013
    By John Atkinson, Nick Petrie, Paul Kear , Richard Tanner, Rob Clarke, Glenn Bailey, Sarah Anderson, Sam Stalker, Ian Griffiths, Matthew Allmark, Stuart Graham, Paul Farrington, John Moffat, Craig Hutchinson, Clair Payne, Luke Sherwen

    So far this winter, apart from one really bad Friday, we’ve not had too much heavy snow to contend with. That’s generally good news – it might look nice but it makes doing any practical work difficult. So we were pleased that the most of one of our snowfalls had melted off for a recent hedgelaying day out with the South Lakes Conservation Group. It was still a bit chilly for one of the group’s scotty dog Hamish though, who spent most of the day perched on a rucksack to keep his little paws warm.

    Hamish admires the view from his rucksack seat
    We weren’t so lucky with the snow when we came to look at the work for the project at Blea Moss (see the 25th January entry in this blog) with the upland footpath team. A heavy fall had covered the ground meaning we found ourselves in the slightly surreal position of looking at path work when we couldn’t see the path! Luckily, the path team had written the specification for the job in better - less snowy - weather so we were able to get a good idea of what needs doing.
    
    Footpath workers in the snow, a Cumbrian version of gorillas in the mist?
    
    Blea Tarn looking very wintery indeed
    Perhaps the most unexpected part of this job is the target shelter. Erected in the second world war, this is a large rectangular metal barrier on the hillside that was used for target practice by troops. Seems reasonable until you realise that someone had the job of hiding behind it and then popping out to see how accurate the shots had been, before radioing the results back to the trainees. It’s a historical oddity and becoming an attraction in itself, but the feet of all the people heading over to look at it are eroding the hillside.

    The target shelter, looking remarkeably robust after all these years
    This summer though we’ll be beavering away with volunteer groups to put a proper path in to the shelter, along with some information. If you’re up the Little Langdale valley, keep a look out for us – we’re just glad the target isn’t in use anymore!


    post and photos  Rob

News from Paul Kear

Photo of Paul Kear

Fueled by a passion for the fells of Lakeland I moved here in 1991, and became a Volunteer with the National Trust before being lucky enough to join the Upland Ranger team eventually becoming a supervisor until 2001. I then became the Ranger Volunteers, managing the busy volunteer residential centre near Hawkshead, where I had the pleasure of working with many different groups from diverse audiences in practical conservation tasks. In 2010 I moved into my current role of Volunteer Development Manager and since March 2014 am the Countryside Manager in the South Lakes. I have a keen interest in the human & physical geography and spend a lot of time in the fells, walking, running, climbing and camping.

Blog:
http://www.countryside-catchup.blogspot.co.uk/