News from Roy Henderson for July 2013

  • Via Ferratas in the Dolomites.

    15:44 29 July 2013
    By Roy Henderson


    Last week I took some leave and went with three friends to the Dolomites intending to climb some via ferratas.   Basically, a via ferrata is a steel cable that is fixed periodically along a steep rock route. Climbers can secure themselves to the cable, limiting any fall. 

    We stayed in huts high on the mountains.  These are less a garden shed and more like very basic small hotels and they are very good. 

    When we arrived, we found rather more snow in some places than we expected so we had to fall back onto plan B at times.  

    The first climb we went up and returned on the same via ferrata. The second climb we had planned to go up and along a ridge-line but there was too much snow.  As we had not taken our winter kit with us, we just hopped off part way, went around to the other side and back down.  It’s better to have a plan B rather than drive on with a fixed idea that is not doable for some reason.  On the third route when we got above 3000 m we found a lot of snow again on the northern slope so we modified our return route.

    We saw few people because it was early in the season and because of the snow.  But we did come across one group that stuck rigidly to their plan for the day.  We arrived back at the hut at 6 p.m. in time for a beer and a meal.  They returned after midnight having had a bit of an epic and only getting 50 m further.

    Always have a plan B.

    It was a good trip with great days on the mountains.  The views were stunning; the people were friendly; the food was good and the beer was excellent.

    Unfortunately I returned from the Dolomites with Lyme disease.  Lyme disease can be transmitted by ticks. I must have had hundreds if not thousands of tick bites in the UK and abroad and this is the first time I've reacted. If you’re bitten, you may develop redness around the bite followed by flu-like symptoms.   You should see a doctor as soon as possible if you suspect you have contracted an illness related to the bites because early antibiotics are essential to avoid prolonged infection.

    Daisy here.  

    Jan’s parents came to look after me.  They’re really nice.  ‘Pigs’ ears are the best thing in the world. (Available from all good pet stores)

  • A tail ends this tale!

    12:25 20 July 2013
    By Roy Henderson

    I mentioned in an earlier post that we had sawn up an old tree that had washed ashore by the lake.  The logs were taken back to my house and I am slowly working on them in the evenings with a chainsaw and chisels.  It will take some time and patience but eventually we will have some more seating for the amphitheatre beside the Trust shop.  The pictures will give you some idea of what I hope to achieve.

    And, just to prove that I do sometimes follow my own advice and look down when I am out and about, I’ll post the following pictures!

    Common Spotted orchid:  The most common of all UK orchids that you are likely to see.
    Can be found in many different habitats including woodland, roadside
    verges, hedgerows, old quarries, sand dunes and marshes.

    Wild thyme: The scent of hot, summer days.

    Sundews:  Carnivorous plants usually found in acid, 

    nutrient-poor environments. Trapping and digesting 

    small creatures such as insects makes up for the deficiency.

     For some time now I’ve also been doing some renovation work on our house in town.   Most recently, I’ve been doing some painting.  Daisy was with me and, in her usual fashion, had to be closely involved whenever she saw a chance!  She did manage to pick up some paint stripes on her coat! 

    Head, back, hip and tail stripes!

    Daisy here.
    Painting and decorating?   It’s boring!
  • Secret places.

    07:50 12 July 2013
    By Roy Henderson

    Discussions and planning are now well underway for the Tour of Britain cycle race.  In Borrowdale we are going to need as much safe parking as we can find.  The police and other agencies have much experience to draw on but we also have to make sure that our Trust tenants can carry on with essential activities.  So I’ll be having plenty of discussions with them as plans develop.

    I’ve mentioned a few times how easy it is to find a quiet space in the Lakes so I thought I’d post a few pictures to show one of them.  You will have to find it for yourself though!  These are from a recent evening walk and were taken no more than 400 metres from one of the most visited places in the area.

    Whilst we were there, Jan noticed some litter (plastic bottles that won’t biodegrade) that had washed into a crevice so I managed to scramble round and retrieve them.  I even kept my feet dry!  

    The dogs occupied themselves with swimming.

    We know that many who walk these places also pick up litter as they go along – that includes regular, local walkers and visiting holiday-makers.  It’s great to meet people like the couple in the picture below that we met one day as they were walking along the lake shore.  They had found a sizeable plastic container, salvaged it and then filled it with other litter they came across!

    This kind of care taken by so many contributes enormously to keeping this place so beautiful.  They just do it for no recognition and I never meet many of them so I’ll say a big ‘Thank you’ here and hope that some of you read it.

    Hi there, it’s Daisy.

    I think my Dad must have had otter in him because I love the water.

  • Events and Festivals

    18:07 05 July 2013
    By Roy Henderson

    I began last week with a trip through to join our Whitehaven Coast ranger Chris to help with the Trust’s contribution to the Whitehaven Festival.  This is a very popular event with large numbers of people attending and we had planned some Trust activities.  Sadly, the pitch we had was very windy and we had to make the decision that it was unsafe to put up our tent.  Despite the wind there was still plenty to do and the crowds clearly had a lot of fun.

    A couple of days later my volunteers joined me at Calf Close Bay.  We cut into manageable sized pieces a fallen Scots pine that had washed ashore.  I’ll be busy using a chainsaw to make them into some more seating for the amphitheatre.  I’ll post pictures of those when they are ready.

    The most interesting, even exciting part of my week though was a meeting about the Tour of Britain cycle event that takes place in September.  As you can imagine, an event like this needs a massive amount of work to organise so lots of local agencies will be involved with the race organisers.  This is a major event for professional cyclists at the top of their game.  Huge numbers will be coming through the narrow roads of Borrowdale at up to 30 mph (I can probably manage 15 mph!) so there is a lot of planning to be done to make it as safe as possible for both competitors and spectators.

    I’ll be posting more about Borrowdale plans in the coming weeks but you can find the official tour website here.  This is a rare event for an area like this and we want it to be memorable for everybody so we’ll all be busy making it as accessible as possible.

    Hi, It's Daisy here.
    I’ve had lots of friends to stay this week – Sunny and Shay.  It’s great having lots of friends.

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.