News from Roy Henderson for April 2012

  • Navigation training

    07:34 28 April 2012
    By Roy Henderson

    As part of a recent working holiday that was based at High Snab Farm , one of the things we did was have a navigation training session.  We used a walk up from High Snab and around the walk known as the Horseshoe Round as our training ground..

    On a nice sunny day when viewed from the valleys, our Lake District hills look very inviting and benign but the weather can change very quickly.  Sometimes within an hour or less, those enticing, sunny summits can become windy, rain-lashed and shrouded in low cloud.  That footpath that you could see stretching ahead of you is now lost to view and thick mist can be very disorientating.  The only safe way to deal with that situation is to have good navigation skills and equipment.  GPS has its uses but, like all technology, is not totally dependable.  Maps, compasses and the skills to use them can be life-savers e.g. maps show you where the unexpected crags are located.  So, I always give our working holiday groups the opportunity to learn or brush up and then practice map and compass work.

    The Keswick Mountain Festival is coming up on May 16-20 and I’ll be offering some free map and compass navigation sessions there.  So if any blog readers are at the festival, do come and find me – if I’m not doing a navigation session, I might be at the National Trust’s yurt on Crow Park.

    Sunny was with the working holiday group on our big mountain walk – he busied himself going around the group and satisfying himself that they stayed together!  He is really good at getting along with people.  He’ll soon be going home to his own family and I suspect even Reiver will miss him.
  • Sunny's holiday adventures.

    14:47 26 April 2012
    By Roy Henderson

    As Sunny is still 'on holiday' with me, I thought that the dog-loving readers of the blog might like to see pictures of some of the experiences he's had. 

    At first we were mindful of sheep and lambs until we could be confident that he understood that he should ignore them.

    It turned out that he was very obedient and he showed no signs of wanting to head off in their direction.  In fact he was remarkably obedient for an 8 month old who could easily have been over-excited by so many new people and experiences.

    Even the ATV didn't concern him and he was happy to spend some time on a lofty perch surveying a new patch.

    I don't know if he had tried swimming before but he certainly enjoyed it this time.  This was in the Elizabethan reservoir above High Snab Farm but I don't suppose that impressed him!

    Dogs are amazingly quick learners if we humans will only spend a little time teaching them.
  • Lakeland bunnies.

    11:52 18 April 2012
    By Roy Henderson

    Well that’s the Easter holiday period over for another year and thankfully there were no fire problems to be dealt with.  The Trust organised a number of Easter Egg Trails across the Lake District during the Easter weekend.  Ours took place on the Monday around the lake shore, Friars Crag and Cockshot Wood area.  Although it was a bit drizzly, it didn’t dampen spirits too much and we had a good number of people come along in family groups. 

    All those who entered set forth with a trail sheet containing seven questions each with three options for answers.  Correct answers provided the letters for an anagram of BUNNIES.  That was the cue for the outbreak of bunny-hopping that you can see in the photograph above.   Successful completion of the sheet was rewarded with an Easter egg – and of course no child ‘failed’ to win an egg!  Regardless of the weather, several generations enjoyed the trail and some even came well-prepared to have an outdoor banquet at the picnic tables at the foreshore.

    Later in the week I had a newcomer join me for his first day at work.  Sunny is a friend’s dog and whilst they are on holiday for two weeks, Sunny is spending his time with us and is coming out to work with me.  He is an eight month old Labrador who still has a lot to learn but is a very fast, keen learner.  Reiver didn’t come with us because she is an elderly lady these days and is semi-retired from public duties.  She also needs some rest from Sunny occasionally!  

    We have been burning the brash and reinstating fences at High Snab where we have been hedge-laying these past few weeks.  High Snab’s farmer, Tom, is in the middle of lambing so the volunteers took turns to go in pairs to help with that.  Lambs seem to enchant everyone and I’ve never come across anyone who has not been keen to have some experience with them – feeding orphans is always popular!

    Sunny had a busy and exciting day with so many new people and experiences but he was flat out and soundly asleep as soon as he was home!
  • Outwitting sheep!

    08:18 07 April 2012
    By Roy Henderson

    Like much of the country we have been enjoying a spell of really good weather recently so we took full advantage of it to do a lot of outdoor work.

    The first big job for me and my volunteers was to join our forest ranger Maurice planting trees on the Raise Gill slopes of Watendlath valley.  The ground is pretty stony there so it took considerable effort to create holes for the planting.  The prolonged dry weather hasn’t helped either.  But, as you will have realised if you follow the blog, my volunteers are not easily discouraged.  Eventually there will be 2.5 thousand mixed hardwoods planted to re-wood an area and stabilise the slope.  You can see from the pictures just how many were planted and protected with tree-guards – sheep pay no heed to our efforts so we have to thwart them somehow!

    We now need some rain to give the trees a good start.  We have had some snow and rain but it is still so dry that we have to be vigilant about the potential fire hazard on the fells.  We hope all our visitors will be careful but we do have our fire-fighting kit ready.   A good downpour soon would dampen everything down to reduce the fire risk and would also be good for the growth of the vegetation. 

    Later in the week, I worked with a different group of volunteers litter-picking on the Derwentwater foreshore.  We cleared a large area on the isthmus (near Keswick) of a trailer of litter and also cleared a trailer of wood which we will use for a beacon.  To celebrate the Queen’s jubilee, we are planning to have a beacon on Catbells and another on Crow Park opposite Theatre by the Lake.  We were working with the usual foreshore volunteers and also with Keswick Army Cadets. 

    It was glorious weather and we were able to enjoy our lunch on Crow Park with views down Borrowdale and with Skiddaw at our backs.  What could be better?

  • Help needed

    04:14 02 April 2012
    By Roy Henderson

    This is a photograph I took recently.  Can anybody identify this cat?

News from Roy Henderson

Photo of Roy Henderson

I’m the National Trust ranger for Borrowdale and Newlands in the North Lakes, UK. I volunteered for the Trust when I came on the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme aged 13. I started by building a new fence on Friars Crag to tackle an erosion problem and making paths more accessible for people with limited mobility. I enjoyed it so much that I continued to volunteer until I left school and was lucky enough to get a job with the National Trust. After working for the Trust for 29 years, I still love the job.