News from Roy Henderson for March 2013

  • Serious stuff then games.

    15:37 28 March 2013
    By Roy Henderson

    Last week I was involved in one of the more unusual of my activities.  The National Trust owns a house on the island in Derwentwater and we need to have plans in place for what we would do in the event of a fire in the house.  It’s obviously not quite as simple as drawing alongside the house in the usual fire tender so we carry out regular practice sessions.  For the island these involve Cumbria Fire & Rescue, the National Trust and Keswick Mountain Rescue Team.

    This was a full-scale rehearsal to test our procedures.  In total we had four engines and two boats from Cumbria Fire & Rescue and two boats from the Mountain Rescue Team.

    Of course the gear, including light-weight pumps and hoses, and the crew have to be taken over in the boats.  All were on the scene very quickly and three teams of two fire-fighters donned breathing apparatus and entered the cellars of the house with charged hoses to carry out a simulated rescue of three dummies.  Members of the Mountain Rescue Team helped with the evacuation of the ‘casualties’ to the boats.

    It was a good joint exercise that went very well.  All the effort was rewarded by the tenants of the island providing copious amounts of tea and cake.  As you can imagine, a huge amount of cake was consumed!
    But, it’s not all so serious.  

    We have had the unexpected recent snowfall and it was too good an opportunity to miss.  We ended one day with a good, old-fashioned snow ball fight.  Sadly I have to report that two foresters walloped five rangers.  In our defence, the foresters are much younger and fearless!  Daisy wanted to join in the fun so she had some snowballs delivered ‘underarm’ so that she wouldn’t be hurt or frightened.

    Finally, a reminder that I will be very pleased to see anyone who can volunteer some time for a path-clearing project behind the new shop.

    Dates:  April 1st to 5th inclusive

    Time:  10am to 3pm

    Meet:  At the new Trust shop at the boat landings.

    If all you can spare is an hour or two, it will still be very much appreciated.

    Daisy here:  I've got a new bed.

  • Daisy, Stan & a new shop.

    17:43 22 March 2013
    By Roy Henderson

    The big news in the valley this week is that the builders have completed their work renovating the National Trust shop opposite the Derwentwater boat landings near Theatre by the Lake.  After extensive work we now have a medium –sized shop with stunning views over the lake. 

     It will be reopening before the Easter weekend so there was much to do to have it stocked and ready for then. 

    Now that the builders have moved out, I can move in to do some work on the open-air classroom and seating space next to the shop.  It will have a decked area made from recycled-plastic boardwalk.  The recycled plastic is made in Liverpool from plastic waste (mainly milk containers) from NW England so the whole process is as local as possible.

    Over the weekend I took a walk up Castle Crag to check out a couple of trees that will need attention soon.  One would grow to obscure the view from the top so it will be taken out.  

    The other, a larch, is growing too close to the iron-age hill fort up there and its root plate would damage the archaeology if it were blown over.

    There is a tremendous view of Rosthwaite from the top of Castle Crag.  The ancient field development can be clearly seen in the existing hedge and wall pattern radiating from the settlement.  The early division of the land would have used people-drawn and then animal-drawn ploughs.  Stones would have been cleared to the boundaries and became walls.  The rocking and turning motions of the ploughs often resulted in what are called ‘lazy-S’ shaped walls and hedges.  This actually resulted in stronger walls and hedges.  It is also clear from the view from the top that Rosthwaite reflects the Old Norse meaning of Thwaite – clearing (in a wood). 

    Castle Crag is a fairly short circular walk from Grange although the top is a bit steep as you are climbing up through old slate mine workings.  But, for relatively little effort, there are stunning views both towards Keswick & Derwentwater and deeper into the valley towards Rosthwaite.  There is a reward for your effort!

    Hi it's Daisy. I fell in the river - it was awful, awful !!!

    I've made another friend.  This is Stanley, Stan to his friends like me.  He can run really fast.
  • Flying teddies!

    10:44 19 March 2013
    By Roy Henderson

    Last week I had a slight diversion from my usual tasks in the valley.  I went along to Wordsworth’s House in Cockermouth to set up an aerial rope-way across the garden.  The house has just reopened to visitors after its winter closure and, with the early Easter dates, all staff are busy with preparations for the new season.  If you visit, you will find that most of the staff will be wearing period costumes that Wordsworth would recognise.  Throughout the year, there are also many activities that visitors can experience.

    The rope-way is for the use of teddy-bears during the Easter holidays.  Children who visit can bring along their bear and it can experience an exciting aerial trip across the garden and can then return safe and well to its owner.  Remember to bring your camera to record the adventure!

    You can also check out the resident chickens.  Chris (our coast ranger) has looked after them over winter but has now returned them to a part of the garden.  And while you are in the garden, you can visit Fletch the Perchcrow.  You can catch up on his recent activities here on his blog.  Normally dogs are not allowed in the garden but Daisy had a special exemption as she was with me and was being taught about where she can and cannot go.  She enjoyed a good mooch around a new place of course.

    Did you know you're not supposed to eat bulbs?  How is anybody supposed to know that?
  • Industrial heritage

    15:41 08 March 2013
    By Roy Henderson

    One of the more unusual things I did last week was go into one of the levels in Force Crag Mine with John Malley and two friends.  We wanted some photographs to apply for consent for contractors to do some work in it.  The mine is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and we need to plan how to have work carried out without damaging the historic remains.

    It had to be a carefully planned and carried out visit because it is potentially dangerous.  There are many unsafe shafts to be avoided and it certainly isn’t a place for anyone who doesn’t know where these are.  We were also careful to avoid any area which did not have a solid roof above us.

    Force Crag Mine is a major project for the National Trust that will be ongoing for years.  It was the last working mine in the Lake District and is the only one of its type that still has its working machinery and buildings intact.  It is important that the Trust conserves and maintains it as a significant part of this area’s industrial archaeology heritage.

    Hi,   Daisy here.  Did you know if you carry a tennis ball to the top of the stairs then drop it, it's the best thing?!

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.