News from Roy Henderson for June 2013

  • Caring and sharing.

    11:48 28 June 2013
    By Roy Henderson

    As I live and work in Borrowdale, the launches that regularly carry visitors around Derwentwater are a familiar sight.  Last week was a bit different though because I was able to have one of these trips as part of my work.  Since I became the Borrowdale Ranger, the numbers of users of the water has increased enormously.  There are many more kayaks, canoes, small sailing boats and rowing boats as well as the much larger launches and we have to be vigilant about the implications for all users of the lake.  Keswick Launch Company generously offered a trip around the lake for representatives of the Borrowdale Users Group to see what their drivers see.  This is a user group set up by the Trust and I chair meetings twice a year.

    It was a very illuminating experience for me and some instructors from Derwentwater Marina to do this with a driver and to see how incredibly skilled they have to be to manoeuvre these large launches in quite confined spaces at some of the jetties.  And, of course, the instructors can use their experience of what small boats can do to identify the spaces that are unsuitable for their use.  

    We are constantly looking for safe ways for different users to coexist and enjoy the lake and this trip on the launch was a very useful part of that process.  The instructors have now offered to take the launch drivers on small sailing boat trips so that they can better understand their capabilities.

    The work on the amphitheatre beside the shop is coming along nicely.  

    It was good to see a local company making use of it recently for a corporate event.  They brought a couple of trestle tables and had a buffet lunch.  It is the kind of space that lends itself to a wide range of uses and we hope many of you will take advantage of it.  There is some log seating; we put out a couple of deckchairs in decent weather and eventually there will be more seating.  If you are passing, just take some time to go and enjoy it.  Have your picnic there; take some pictures; have a grandstand view of the action at the boat landings or just soak up the sun!

    Another project underway is the installation of a webcam.  All being well, that should be up and running very soon.  I’ll post details on the blog once it is live.

    Once again there was a gathering of people at Castlerigg Stone Circle to celebrate the summer solstice.  Maurice (forest ranger) checked the site the following day and, as usual, he found it was undamaged and tidy.  No matter how many there are, they always respect the site.  It’s great to see people enjoying and looking after this fantastic area.

    Hi, it’s Daisy here.

    I’m the best there is at running and jumping.  I can run and jump better than any other dog I’ve ever seen.

  • A medley of activities.

    12:39 20 June 2013
    By Roy Henderson

    Another week gone by with a lot of variety!  It began with my delivering a Scots Pine tree to Crosthwaite Church for a lady who is doing a flower arrangement with a National Trust theme.  Canon Rawnsley, who was a founder of the National Trust, was also Canon of Crosthwaite Church.  We had needed to thin out a couple of trees so she was able to choose one of those.  It’s a nice way to feel we are still linked to one of our founders.

    I spent another day with Maurice (forest ranger) and a group from Threlkeld School.  We walked along the old railway line which is now a great walk.  Maurice used the theme of Journeys to guide the children through the journeys of plant seeds.  Daisy came with us.  She was a bit overwhelmed at first by the attentions of so many children who all wanted to pat her but she did cope very well. 

    At the weekend I did some freelance work for a company that organised a 24 peaks challenge.  On the first day I was on Bowfell looking over to Scafell and on the second day I was on Raise looking across to Helvellyn. 

    It was good weather for both days but just a bit too hot on the first day and some hadn’t taken quite as much water as they would have liked.  This is a hard challenge with the 24 peaks over 2 days.
    The company and the charity I was working for also make a contribution to the National Trust and the National Park for the up keep of the footpaths.  There are many events like this taking place now and, with growing numbers, there is inevitably some wear and tear.  Many of the thoughtful and responsible event organising bodies now make a contribution to maintaining the paths.  I think most people now realise that enormous numbers of users can cause damage that is expensive to repair.

    I’m sure many of you will be watching a nest somewhere near your house.  Ours is a wren’s nest in a nesting box beside the back door.  The parents are very busy now coming and going for food and I managed to find an opportunity to take some photographs.  There are at least four chicks and all are doing well.

    It’s Daisy here.

    Did you know you are not supposed to eat dead rabbits?  How ...  how am I supposed to know that?  Roygot very upset and I was a little bit ill.

  • Jobs finished, mountains climbed and holes in the ground.

    14:43 14 June 2013
    By Roy Henderson

    It was a busy week at work last week.  I spent one day with my team of local volunteers.  We managed to finish off a job that had been started by the Yorkshire volunteers but couldn’t be completed at the time because the lake level was too high.  We have now completed the removal of some old, redundant fencing on the lake shore.  This job has also removed one unnecessary gate and the path around the lake now feels more open – it also looks better.

    Another day was spent going to the top of Great Gable to photograph a war memorial.  This is part of a project that the Trust is carrying out for 2014 which marks 100 years since the outbreak of World War 1.  A photographic record of all war memorials and commemorative donations of land on Trust properties is being created.  It is important that we keep these in good order.

    Daisy came with me.  I chose a route from Honister and up Gillercombe because there is a stream for part of the way for her to have a drink.  

    I also filled up some water bottles to take on up to the summit.  She is quite a big dog now but, despite her irritation, I did carry her on a couple of particularly steep sections so that she did not overtire.  I needn’t have worried.  When I sat down at the top, she was orbiting me like a little comet.

    Then one evening Jamie Lund (archaeologist), John Malley  (water adviser) and I had a little excursion into the coffin levels of an Elizabethan mine.

      Jamie has been researching the old mines on Trust land and wanted to see this one.  John made a photographic record. 

    It is amazing to enter these coffin levels and to think that they were hand cut into solid rock. The pick marks can be seen in the rock. 

    To minimise the amount of rock that had to be removed they are narrow at the bottom, widen for the shoulders and then become narrow again.  This gives them their coffin shape.  We three were not able to walk through with our shoulders square on.  Those miners must have been strong and fit but much smaller than we are.

    Daisy here:
    I’ve been up a big mountain.  Roy still carried me a little bit.  What’s that all about?  I showed him.  I had energy to spare running round and round. It was great. 

    And I’ve been down a hole in the ground.  Not sure what that was about but it seemed to be fun.  Everybody went in.
  • Our holiday in the Lakes.

    22:42 07 June 2013
    By Roy Henderson

    I have just taken a break from work catching up with time on lieu of worked weekends.  I spent the time having a holiday in the Lake District!  We decided that we would stay and enjoy what millions of others see as a fantastic place to have a holiday.

    We stayed on Derwent Island for a few nights looking after it for the tenants as they had a short break.  Daisy had a great time playing with Ted, the island dog.  They had a lot of fun racing around the south lawn and swimming.  Daisy was much faster than Ted running around but he was definitely a stronger swimmer.

    We then met up with Canadian friends Kirk and Jo Mauthner.  Kirk was running courses for mountain rescue teams on rope-work and rigging techniques.  Between these they stayed a few days with us.  We spent some time canoeing on Derwentwater and also made a visit to Grizedale Forest to walk the sculpture trail there.  It was good to catch up with them. 

    And we also had a walk with Ellie (from the Rescue Team) and her collies.  Daisy was able to show off her swimming skills.  She was obviously much more enthusiastic about the water than the collies were – a big difference between labradors (gundogs) and collies.

    I know I’ve said this before but it can’t be said too often.  When you are out walking, look at the mountains, the lakes and the sky but don’t forget what is close by you and your feet.  We walked one day through the Ings which is a wetland area quite near Keswick and we saw lots of tadpoles, a dragon-fly larva and a water snail. 

    On another walk in the Falcon Crag area we saw peregrines, a roe deer that Daisy ‘pointed’ out to us and also red deer slots (footprints).  On the return along the lake shore, we found otter spraints (poo) left by otters to mark their territory.  I’m still not convinced that spraints smell like jasmine tea!

    Daisy here:

    I’ve got loads of friends.  It’s great.  Ted on Derwent Island is a brilliant swimmer.  And I’ve been canoeing.   Canoeing is great.  You can look at the splashes that come off the paddles from side to side and side to side.  Roy doesn’t think that’s very good.

  • 50 things for you to do (& some for Daisy).

    16:20 03 June 2013
    By Roy Henderson

    The Mountain Festival is now over for another year.  It did become rather damp eventually but was still very successful.  The Trust was on hand to organise a number of activities within the theme “50 things to do before you are 11¾”This is one of the Trust’s national campaigns this year.   (It’s half-term so go to the link and you might be able to tick off a few from the list.) 

    I worked mainly at the amphitheatre beside the Trust shop.  From there I could advise or help with the navigation trail which had been set out.  I could also continue with the work to install riven oak posts and hand-rail.  And of course it was an ideal opportunity to talk to a lot of people about the area and our work.

    As usual for such events, they were long days with the final Sunday being very long.  By then the field was quite muddy and the Trust’s four-wheel drive vehicles were in action to tow off a few that were having problems.

    During the week I had another session at Watendlath with pupils from Borrowdale School.  This time we did some map-reading and navigation work. 

    They did some work on pacing and timing plus a little on compasses and bearings.  They then followed a short orienteering course.  I stood on a little knoll where I could see them and it was good to see just how much they were enjoying themselves.  It is such a brilliant place for them to be running around on the hills whilst they are also learning.

    Hi, it’s Daisy here.

    Have you tried swimming?


    It’s great.  I’m a natural.

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.