News from Roy Henderson for September 2012

  • A night on the fells.

    17:18 26 September 2012
    By Roy Henderson

    This week started with a late-night call from some friends whose trekking company had organised a three peaks challenge ascending Ben Nevis, Scafell and Snowdon in a 24 hour period.  One of their guides had been taken ill on Ben Nevis and they needed a quick replacement so I agreed to guide the Scafell walk.  I met the group at 1.30 am.  As much of the walk took place in darkness, I have searched out some earlier photographs to show you the area.

    Spot the wild camp - just leave behind no evidence that you were there.
    We took a route behind Great End and across the boulder fields.  The boulders were particularly hard walking because it was dark and there was low cloud creating a slick of moisture on them. 

    Boulder field - can be hard going and it was for us.  Scafell far right.

    A closer look at the boulders - John in his element identifying lichens.
    Summit cairn on Scafell - a familiar misty view for many!

    I brought the group back down the corridor route to Stye Head and on to Seathwaite.  As we were circling around Stye Head the morning light was just breaking.  A tired group then carried on to complete the final section of the challenge up Snowdon and I went in to work at my day job!

    Overall it was good to walk it at a different time of day and do some map and compass navigation.  If I’m wearing the right clothing, I love being on the hills in any weather.     

    Beginning the next stage of access-for-all path.

    At work we have just started a big project to construct another half a kilometre of access-for-all path along the Derwentwater shore.  At present, the existing route is being quite badly eroded in places and can be up to 4 metres wide and very muddy.

    We are now working on a stretch on the eastern shore from the Kettlewell car park towards Keswick.  This project is a win-win project. Once it has a good surface about a metre and a half wide, the path becomes accessible for push-chairs, wheel-chairs and others with mobility difficulties.  It also encourages users to follow a narrower route rather than to be constantly widening the route as they try to avoid mud or puddles.  The surrounding vegetation can then thrive when it is no longer being trampled.

    Our long-term plan is to have a complete circuit of the lake but, for such a big project, it can only be completed in stages as money becomes available.  Part of the funding for this stretch comes from the National Park's Access to Water Strategy.

    As soon as we have more funding, we’ll move on to another length until we have the complete circuit and a superb walk will be there for us all.

  • Soggy days.

    10:11 20 September 2012
    By Roy Henderson

    Well, that was another week of ‘will it, won’t it?’  - rain that is!  Sometimes it did and sometimes it didn’t so some planned activities did take place and others were not so lucky.

    The dogs waiting where they saw a mink go to ground.  Bottom left of the picture  and the mink has resurfaced behind the dogs to watch them!
    I helped out with one of the lucky ones - a guided walk looking at the geology of Borrowdale.  Borrowdale has a lot to interest keen geologists including the Skiddaw slates, the Borrowdale volcanics, a number of metallic mineral deposits ... and of course the famous graphite (or black lead, black cawke, wad, plumbago as it is variously known).  There’s also the evidence of Neolithic settlement.

    Good camouflage
    At some time in the 16th century a discovery of a large graphite deposit on the approaches to Grey Knotts from Seathwaite was the trigger for two important developments.  The first was the development of the world’s first pencil industry – an industry that continues to this day although it no longer uses local graphite. 

    Owl chick
     More important in the 16th century was its use in lining the molds to make smoother cannon balls that could be fired further.  As the monarch of a maritime nation that made much use of cannon balls, Elizabeth 1 exercised strict controls over this valuable resource and the Crown monitored all aspects of the mining.  The mine was guarded day and night by armed guards.  Despite that, there is evidence that some individuals took the risk and profited from illegal activities! This is where the saying the black market comes from.

    The weekend was not so lucky with the weather and the annual Borrowdale Show turned out to be a rather soggy event.  At the Trust we had prepared a display of our work in Borrowdale. Either it was very popular or a lot of people were taking advantage of the shelter we provided.

    Parent on guard duty
    A decision has already been made to cancel a Buttermere Fun Day that was to take place on September 23rd– the field is too muddy.

    Otter tracks (Library picture)
    The photographs today are of some of the wild-life around here – there’s a limit to how interesting pictures of muddy fields can be!
  • It's not all bad weather!

    17:23 08 September 2012
    By Roy Henderson

    It was recently summer holiday time and Jan & I have been away cycling again to the Netherlands.  This time we took a ferry from Newcastle to Amsterdam.  Cycling in the Netherlands is incredibly easy with its many miles of traffic-free, well-maintained routes plus its quiet country roads that are relatively free of traffic.  We usually saw more bikes than cars.  We cycled up the coast then back through Germanyand across the Netherlandsto Amsterdam.  Even cycling in the city is enjoyable and feels safe in a way I haven’t experienced in a UK city.  We find that cars in many parts of Europe seem to have more respect for cyclists.  The weather was also good so we had a great holiday.

    These are all over the cycling network. ...

    ... but there's always a place for a bit of improvisation !

    Fortunately we had no gales!

    Apartment building with character.

    Rural building with character - if you need more space, just raise the roof!
    It was good to return to the Lakes though.  Back at work, one of my first tasks was to erect in Crowe Park the temporary installation you can see in the photographs.  It is a 10 ft by 6 ft ‘picture frame’ and, as you can see, it frames some stunning views across Derwentwater and down Borrowdale.   So far, feedback from members of the public is very positive and it is being well-used for some holiday photos with a difference.  I’m biased of course and think that Borrowdale is the best bit of the Lake District!

    At the weekend I did more cycling with a couple of friends.  We managed to fit in one of the shorter routes from west to east coasts - 145 km from Gretna via Kielder.  We chose that route so that we could avoid busy roads.

    And finally, the next stage of planning a wild-swim event took place when I with some colleagues actually did the swim as a trial run. 

      That’s another step closer to being able to organise such an event for members of the public.

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.