News from Roy Henderson for May 2013

  • A tale of a log and a hammock.

    14:55 22 May 2013
    By Roy Henderson

    This last week, I’ve been working with more of our fantastic volunteers.  This time it was a local Cumbrian group who come and work with me twice a year.  We worked on the open-air site (the amphitheatre) beside the shop.

    They made serious inroads into some time-consuming tasks.  The section of tree trunk that is being used in the amphitheatre has some fire damage and that needs to be cleared off so that it can be used as seating.  We’ve tried a few methods to do that and it seems that a good old chisel might be the best answer because we do want the trunk to retain its natural appearance.

    This little area is rapidly becoming an informal multi-purpose area.  It was used as an outdoor office one fine day recently when I met with one of my volunteers to discuss a project.  We usually have those meetings in our Trust offices in Borrowdale but the amphitheatre was a very agreeable alternative.  And I could carry on chiselling the tree trunk!

    Later in the week, I went over to the Buttermere area to help out a fellow ranger Mark with a new walk.  He was taking out a school group that included a wheel-chair user.  I was able to borrow a wheel-chair from the Calvert Trust which specialises in providing outdoor experiences to those with impaired mobility.

    In this case, the user was an inspiring young woman who was determined to walk if she possibly could.  She used the wheelchair only over particularly rough ground or on steep slopes.  Where necessary the chair was roped up and members of her group hauled it.  It was a good day.  Good to see different ways that my colleagues work and good to see how the group worked together so that everyone could have a great day enjoying the outdoors.

    It’s Daisy:

    I like hammocks.  You jump in and out and in and out and in and out ...!   Roy doesn’t like hammocks when I’m jumping in and out. 
  • Mountain Festival preparations

    15:29 17 May 2013
    By Roy Henderson

    This weekend throughout Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Keswick Mountain Festival is taking place and there will be many activities at Crow Park (opposite Theatre by the Lake beside Derwentwater).  The park is managed by the National Trust so we will be heavily involved.  If you visit, you will be able to choose from “Fifty Things to Do” including tree-climbing, wild art and making mud pies.  You will also find other contributors to the festival who will be organising different activities.

    My contribution will be to offer an introductory level navigation activity.  With the help of Rebecca, who is a Trust intern, I have set out a course for a stand-alone trail from the park to Friars Crag and back through Cockshott Woods.  Becky took on the task of producing the trail leaflets and signs.  You can just pick up one of those trail leaflets and head off or I will be on hand if you want some help or advice.

    By the time you have completed the trail, you will have gained some experience in the two key areas of navigation – in which direction and how far do you need to walk?  You will learn something about compass work, hand-railing (following a natural feature in the landscape) plus the timing and pacing of fifty metres.  These will be fun to learn now and might be very useful in future.

    Hi, it’s Daisy here.

    I’m losing my teeth.  I’ve got two sets of canines at the moment.  Is this normal?  Roy seems to think it is.

  • The return of the Yorkshire team.

    10:58 07 May 2013
    By Roy Henderson

    Last week saw the annual visit of a group of regional volunteers from Yorkshire.  I’ve now been working with this group for 15 years.  Some of them have been coming for several years now and it’s great to see them again and also to welcome new faces.  These are people who are experienced team-workers with a wide range of skills that they have developed working in different Trust properties.  Add some time from my local experienced volunteers and a huge amount of work is completed in a couple of days.

    On Day 1 we worked on the eastern shores of the lake clearing the pathway of debris left behind as the higher water levels of winter begin to fall. We also did a bit of dry-stone walling either side of a gap in a wall that allows us access with machinery when we need it.

     On Day 2 we moved into Cockshott Wood and continued with the clearing of the pathway there.  If we don’t do this maintenance regularly, the pathway will quickly become overgrown and all the hard work to make it accessible for all will be wasted.  If you walk a well-maintained National Trust path, there’s a good chance that volunteers play a big part in keeping it in good condition.  They really do deserve huge thanks from us all – they do sterling work.

    Elsewhere in the week, the Mountain Rescue team has been very busy with call-outs to several incidents.  Overall, these have involved working with two air-ambulances, two Sea-King helicopters and another rescue team.

    It’s Daisy again.
    If I sleep on his jacket, he won’t forget me.

  • A path for everyone.

    10:41 01 May 2013
    By Roy Henderson

    Regular readers of the blog will know about the ongoing project to create an access-for-all path along the western shore of Derwentwater.  I’ve been working on this piece by piece for at least 20 years now.

    Last week I made a visit with a group of people whose concern is accessibility for those with disabilities.   John Crosbie, who for many years was Centre Director of the Lake District Calvert Trust (experts in the provision of outdoor activities for people with disabilities), was keen for them to see the latest developments on the path.

    This is a project where everyone wins.  What was once a 20 metre wide and often muddy path now has a good surface and is little more than a metre wide.  This encourages walkers to stay on the path and protects the surrounding vegetation.  It also allows wheelchair-users, pram-pushers and other limited mobility users to enjoy a beautiful lakeside location.

    In order to make part of the path accessible to all, we had to construct a board-walk.  I’ve mentioned before that we used recycled plastic ‘boards’ for this.  They have a textured, non-slip surface and should last longer than the wooden boards we recently replaced.  For anyone who might be concerned about using plastic in a landscape like this, when we were installing the board-walk, a frequent question from passing walkers was, “What do you use to treat the wood?”  The longest stretch we have installed is about 300 metres across wet-land.  If you visit, you will see that it is much less visually intrusive than a spreading path.

    This was one of those occasions where there was an opportunity to step back from the details of a project and see the overall achievement to date.  We know that the Calvert Trust and similar users can now access an increasing amount of the lake shore.  Not only is that very satisfying but it motivates us to continue the work along the opposite shore of the lake.  And it reflects a founding principle of the National Trust that it will act for ever, for everybody – we do need to look after the landscape but also make it as accessible as possible to as many as possible.

    Hi, it's Daisy here.
     I've had lots of friends to stay and I've learned all about lambs and sheep. You are allowed to look at them from a distance.  But you must not try and play with them.  I don't want to play with them anyway.

    Pictures of two of my 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.