News from Roy Henderson for December 2014

  • Time to reflect.

    13:26 19 December 2014
    By Roy Henderson

    Once again, as we approach the end of another year, I have been reflecting on what has been achieved and once again I realise just how much has depended on the fantastic volunteers who work with me.

    Some of the work has been creative in that we have started with an idea and have made it a reality. I think of the play trail in Cockshot Wood that has taken many hours of hard work. Our reward is to see so many children (and a good few grown-ups) enjoying themselves in the wood.

    Some of it has been stewardship in that we have worked to protect the best features of the area. I think of the work done to maintain good surfaces on the paths so that there is good access for as many people as possible.

    It just would not be possible for me to do all of it without my groups of volunteers. The National Trust is fortunate in having thousands of committed and gifted volunteers and I know I am lucky to have mine.

    So now is the time to say a HUGE THANK YOU.

    Daisy here:

    I’ve decided not to be a rescue dog. I am going to concentrate on being a ranger dog.
  • Getting ready for Christmas.

    20:03 11 December 2014
    By Roy Henderson

    Christmas is fast approaching and the time has come to make sure that a few jobs are done so that people can have a memorable experience here.  On Friars Crag we have one of the most popular Lake District walks and it is a special favourite of both visitors and local residents over the Christmas period.  For many people an outing in the fresh air along the lake shore seems to be as much a part of Christmas Day as the turkey dinner so we like to make sure that the path through the wood from the car park and along the lake is in good condition.

    So my volunteers joined me in a clearing accumulated leaf mould from the path surface.  If we don’t do this regularly the surface becomes slippery underfoot but, just as important is that, if we don’t clear it, the path will become overwhelmed by the debris and vegetation that quickly invades.  Clearing it extends the life of the dirt scree surface.  As they usually do, my volunteers did a superb job.

    One of the good things about working there is that we meet so many people.  We’ve had a few days of really good weather with a lot of people taking the opportunity for a short holiday and of course there are regular local walkers who have a sense of ownership and stewardship of the area.  Chatting with them is not only enjoyable but it is an important way of finding out if our work is achieving what we want it to.  The Trust’s work is all about preserving and protecting for ever, for everyone so it’s good to hear a wide range of views.

    Daisy here,

    I’ve been helping Roy clear footpaths on Friars Crag but the best bit was that I met Stanley who can run really fast.  When I was a puppy, he could run rings round me.  Now I just wear him down.  It’s great.

  • Swift water, fixing paths, felling trees and hunting for drains!

    14:24 03 December 2014
    By Roy Henderson

    It’s hard to believe that it is now 3 years since I last renewed my Swift Water Rescue Technician ticket for the mountain rescue team but last weekend was time to do it again.  This is one of those occasions when it is essential to have a clear, concise briefing about what we will be doing.  Once the rescue begins the noise of the water makes communication difficult and we cannot use radio equipment where it is going to be drenched.  So it is vital that we have a Plan A, a Plan B and clear signals if and when we have to change from one to the other.  It sounds simple but of course needs to be very well planned to actually do it.  As ever, it was a really good weekend.

    Once back at work, I returned to a project in Braithwaite, one of our lovely Lake District villages.  As the village has developed over generations, layers of drainage systems have been installed and sometimes their exact position is long forgotten.  There have been some flooding problems and I have been working with the Parish Council and residents of the village to decide how to solve them.  During my round of knocking on doors to explain what we are going to do, I came across one resident who remembered the installation of a land drain and showed me its position.  This is going to be a very useful find because we can feed a new drain into it.

    Later in the week I returned to Cat Gill with Leila, our academy ranger, and some of the guys from the footpath team.  You might recall that I was up there recently to fell some trees across a short cut that people have started to use.  Unfortunately it is in a position where it could develop into serious erosion quite quickly so I want to discourage its use as soon as possible.  The last time I looked at this, it turned out to be too windy to fell the trees as accurately as I wanted them but this time was successful.

    As I did that, the footpath team improved the condition of part of the pitched path.  Most people do prefer to use a well-built and maintained path so we think that problem will be solved now.

    Daisy here,

    I’ve been playing in the woods. It’s great.  I love running around and I went to play with the footpath team. They think I’m crazy.  

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.