News from Roy Henderson for July 2014

  • My morning coffee stop.

    13:51 29 July 2014
    By Roy Henderson

    I’ve often mentioned Friars Crag before and frequently show photographs taken there.  What I haven’t said before is that I often stroll along there with my early morning coffee and start my day with views that would be hard to better.  I know not everyone is lucky enough to have such a place outside their door but, if you can, you could take your coffee out in the garden or maybe a short stroll will take you to a little park area.  It beats every morning on the settee or at the kitchen table and you never know what you might see. Friars Crag is a honey-pot to visitors during the day but in the early hours it’s a different world where the sights and sounds of the natural world dominate.

    At the Trust we are working to make it possible for as many as possible to enjoy this outdoor world when they visit here.  As part of that we are constantly checking the condition of the furniture in the area.  Furniture in this context includes walls, fences, gates, stiles, bridges as well as benches.  Chris, our Whitehaven Ranger, joined me one day recently as we carried out a survey of the condition of the furniture in the Castle Crag area. We took Chris’s two lurchers and Daisy with us and they had a great day of course.

    It was a good, productive day.  We found a few things that need doing; where we could we actually did a few small jobs as we found them and we also spotted a tree beside a path that needed immediate attention.  The foresters dealt with that the next day.

    Daisy here:

    Chris’s dogs can run really fast but I can keep up with them – just.  But they got tired really quickly.  I’m more middle distance.

  • Wildlife at Bowe Barn

    11:50 24 July 2014
    By Roy Henderson

    If you are familiar with Borrowdale, you might have noticed that we have our National Trust North Lakes offices at Bowe Barn.  This is an old, typical Lakeland stone-built building situated in an area with lots of very mature trees.  A happy coincidence of that is that some of the local wild-life makes good use of the building.

    We have a breeding colony of pipistrelle bats living in the roof space above our offices at present.  Pipistrelles are one of the commonest and also the smallest bats to be found in Britain.  They are3.5–5.2 cm long along the head-and-body, and the tail adds 2.3–3.6 cm. They weigh from 3.5 to 8.5 g and have a wingspan ranging from 18 to 25 cmIt’s fantastic to see them but occasionally one or two find their way inside the building. The carpet of our office is a dangerous place for them to be so we have to very gently take them outdoors and put them into a crevice in the outside walls of the building!

     We also have swallows nesting and breeding with the young ones finding some handy perching places.  Right now they are at their noisiest as they sit and demand food.  We must have a very healthy insect population to support them and the bats!

    Hi, It’s Daisy here.

    As part of my Mountain Rescue training, I’ve been to the pub again.  This bit of the training is really tiring.

  • Daisy's infinity pool!

    15:24 10 July 2014
    By Roy Henderson

    I’ve just had a week of working with a number of different groups.  One day was spent with a group of students from Keswick School.  These were students who had successfully completed the Headmaster’s Challenge by making extra contributions to their community both within and outside the school.  Their reward was to spend a day with me as Junior Rangers.

    We spent the day on Derwent Islandwhere we cut down some vegetation from the lake shore and also cleared some rhododendrons.  We followed that with a big fire.

    They were an excellent group of students of course and they can be rightly proud of the very good work they did.  Everyone seemed to have a good time and Daisy certainly enjoyed the day.

    We have also hosted a group from the Environment Agency for a couple of days.  They spent some time working on practical tasks with me.  We were weeding around oak trees that had been previously planted by Borrowdale school children and also clearing branches that were starting to overgrow a footpath. They seemed to enjoy their day and we achieved a lot.  The next day they had some internal meetings and then met up with me to bounce around some ideas for a project I have in mind.  I want to create a stretch of sustainable and easily accessible footpath along part of the Derwentwater shore.  It was good to hear the views and ideas from such a positive and knowledgeable group.  They were asking some in-depth questions and then identifying the problems and suggesting the solutions – a really useful contribution.

    The other big task of the week was to go up to Castlerigg Stone Circle with the Trust’s archaeologist Jamie Lunt, my regular volunteers and his archaeology volunteers.  We did some routine repair work to the turf around the stones.  This is just making good the wear and tear that is to be expected from the large numbers of people who visit the site.

    And finally, as the Tour de France has just started, I’ll mention that I had a morning bike ride around the lake recently that was just stunning.  No cars on the road and beautiful views across the lake.

    Daisy here,

    Roy says I’ve been swimming in an infinity pool.  Well the lake looked bigger to me.

  • Calling in the pros.

    12:33 02 July 2014
    By Roy Henderson

    The big job last week was one where I had to call in our team of foresters to help me fell some trees near Friars Crag.  Our foresters are all qualified tree surgeons and were able to fell trees exactly where I wanted them. I needed them to fell several trees but into quite precise positions.  As you can see from the pictures, one of them also worked in a tree removing some quite large branches. These guys are incredibly skilful and professional about what they do. I'm qualified to cut down trees but I certainly don’t have the experience or skills to work in the tree canopy as they do. 

    Thinning out the trees will allow in more light and should improve growing conditions for plants.  But, on this occasion, there is another important aspect to the work.  When the lake level is high, the path to Friars Crag is protected from erosion by a series of gabions formed with rocks in metal baskets.  These are now over 20 years old and are beginning to decay so I have decided to try a different technique.  The felled trees are going to be left in place with the old gabions.  They will be covered by soil that comes from some dredging at the island’s landing stage and from a job on Crow Park.  These new slopes will then be seeded and hopefully the vegetation will anchor it all.

    We hope they will do the job of protecting the path whilst being aesthetically more sensitive and sustainable for the location. We just have to hope that there is no serious flooding before the vegetation is well-established.  It is a method we have not tried before but we really hope it works because it will be so much more sympathetic to the environment.  

    I also took the opportunity to extend one of our fences whilst the lake level is low during the current dry spell and it was then that I found some broken glass.  This doesn’t happen very often because there are so many people who pick up rubbish whilst out walking. There are just a few though who have no thought for the safety of others. Broken glass is clearly very dangerous especially for paddling and swimming children or animals and it is particularly difficult to spot in the water at the lake shore.  So, when we find it, we are especially careful to pick up all that we can find.


    Daisy here,

    I’ve been working with the foresters.  The foresters are great.

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.