News from Roy Henderson for January 2014

  • New woodland.

    18:29 29 January 2014
    By Roy Henderson

    This last week saw us leave Borrowdale, the best valley, to go over to work in Buttermere where the valley ranger Mark mistakenly thinks he has the best bit!  A group of staff and volunteers made a start on a tree-planting scheme.  We recently clear-felled a commercial plantation and are replanting it with mixed hard-woods.  These new trees will very quickly become ecologically richer than a commercial soft wood plantation. 

    There were 13 staff and volunteers who first improved access to the site by collecting and burning the brash from the earlier felling.  

    We then planted 2000 trees. If you have seen them, you might wonder why we plant them in tubes.  These tubes give the new plantings protection from sheep and deer until they are established.  They are also corrugated inside so morning dew will run down and water them. 

    It was a good day with a lot to show for the hard work. 

    I’ve also been working with some rangers and volunteers on the Catbells terrace path.  We have had a lot of rain in recent months and we try to keep up with routine maintenance of the path drains and of the graded sections where they are designed to shed water.  

    The fact that we have kept on top of the routine maintenance in the past has minimised the damage.  Little jobs done now save big jobs in future.

    Hi, Daisy here.  

    I’ve been tree planting with lots of people.  It was great. There were lots of sticks. I ran around all day.  It was fantastic.

  • Next round of hedge-laying.

    15:37 23 January 2014
    By Roy Henderson

    This last week I’ve been back with my team of volunteers to High Snab Farm to make a start on some more hedge-laying.  The weather is so mild at the moment that it’s a good opportunity to start to get the hedges down. 

    There are lots of styles of hedge-laying around the country.  Each will have developed as the most suitable for the conditions in the local area so it’s important to use the local technique. Here we lay our hedges relatively close to the ground and, although we weave the plants into one another, we do not do it at a 45 degree angle and add a stock fence because the wind would simply blow it over and rip out the plants. 

    We cut and weave them fairly close to the ground early in the year which gives new growth time to strengthen before the worst winds later on.  We lay the hedges in each area on a rotational basis to ensure there are plenty of nesting sites for birds. And the time for hedge laying is autumn through to early spring before the sap is rising.

    The volunteers enjoy returning to High Snab.  We always have a very friendly welcome there plus the bonus of cups of tea at lunch-time!  It was also a good opportunity for the volunteers to walk around the field boundaries to see the progress of the hedges they worked on last year.

    To add to the experience, we get to see any new changes Tom (farmer) has made.  Over the years he has farmed High Snab, he has worked extremely hard to make as good a fell farm as it can be.  You can read more about the farm, the holiday cottage and their camping barn here.

    Daisy here:  

    I’ve been bad, very bad.  I found a pie in a rucksack.  I’ve never seen Roy so cross.  Apparently dogs are only supposed to eat dog food.
  • After the recent storms.

    09:43 13 January 2014
    By Roy Henderson

    We are all back at work now after the Christmas/New Year break although all the valley rangers turned out at some point during that time.  We had quite a lot of storm damage with trees that needed attention as soon as possible.  Some were blown over and some had damaged hanging branches over footpaths.

    Where we could, we dealt with them immediately but for some we needed to tape off and sign an area of potential danger.  For some we needed to call in our tree surgeons with their specialist skills.  We certainly needed them in the case of the tree that had fallen across the chapel on Derwent Island.  I had hoped that it was a job I could do with my chainsaw but it very quickly became apparent that we would have to call in the foresters.  So, on the Sunday between Christmas and New Year’s Eve our foresters left friends and family and turned in to help save the chapel. 

    Needs moving without doing more damage.  How?

    Call in a forester who can climb an adjacent tree to fix a safety rope for himself. 

    Thomas can then safely reduce the canopy with a chainsaw. 

    Winching cable can now be attached.

    Trunk can now be safely felled at its base.

    Skilled judgement, winch, chainsaw plus a couple of wedges and tree is safely down.
    We are fortunate to have staff and volunteers who will turn out at any time to deal with an emergency.  Huge thanks are due to the foresters this time.  You can read more about them and their work on their blog.

    Chapel saved with minimal damage to roof and chimney stack.
    We’re also having to get to grips with the storm damage from water.  We have had isolated incidents of flooding that have caused pockets of huge amounts of damage.  Catbells Terrace path has again taken a hammering with the rain.  There has been a significant wash-out of gravel that has banked up to a height of about 4 feet against a stone wall.   So we are working to restore that path and thinking about whether it might be possible to minimise a similar event in future.  

    Washed out gravel  against wall.

    Water damage

    Storms are going to continue to occur and will reshape the landscape but we do want to keep paths usable.

    Water damage to paths

    Daisy here: 

    It’s great, it’s really windy.  I love running in the wind.  It’s grrreat!

  • 2013 through a camera lens.

    09:17 06 January 2014
    By Roy Henderson

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.