News from Roy Henderson for March 2014

  • Dramatic events

    16:35 20 March 2014
    By Roy Henderson

    I’ve been working recently in the gardens of a rather splendid holiday property owned by the National Trust.  Millbeck Towers is near Applethwaite at the foot of Skiddaw.  It has beautiful, large gardens with superb views over Derwentwater. 

    I joined Amanda (Wordsworth House gardener) and a group of gardening volunteers to do some Spring cleaning there in preparation for the new season.

    I’ve mentioned before the kidnapping of Fletch the perchcrow from Wordsworth House.  Well, for some reason, Fletch was in the Millbeck Towers garden and I happened to be there to witness a crack team of gardeners do an SAS type rescue!


    They had brought with them an attack dog who can only be identified as D.  As the kidnapper tried to escape with Fletch, D went in hot pursuit and brought him to the ground and promptly despatched justice.

    It was a great day all round.  Fletch has been freed to go home; the Wordsworth House gardeners had the opportunity to work in a different garden; I really appreciated having such a good team to help me and we completed a lot of work.

    Hi, Daisy here.

    Che’s still with us. It’s great. Huzzah.HouH
  • Planning a project and starting a project.

    15:00 14 March 2014
    By Roy Henderson

    The time is fast approaching when our visitor numbers will increase very quickly so I spent some time last week planning self-guided walks.  Leaflets for these walks will be available in the Trust shop on the Derwentwater shore and there will be oak marker posts along the paths for walkers to follow.  We see many families with small children for example who walk along to Friars Crag but, if they are new to the area, they are uncertain about whether or how to go further.  Where does the path carry on?  Will it be too difficult or too far?  Does it go along the lake or through the wood?  Do we have enough time to do it?

    The leaflets and the way-markers will answer those questions and hopefully will encourage many more people to go out of their comfort zone to explore, discover and enjoy much more of this beautiful place.  The walks will begin at the shop & amphitheatre and will take in Friars Crag, Cockshott Wood and Strandshag Bay and there will also be one at Castlehead.  In all there will be four different trails with different levels of difficulty.  

    Soon, we hope, there will be even more to enjoy in Cockshott Wood.  We are planning to develop a wild play area for children. We’ll be using natural materials from the wood itself to create this.  We have already looked at pictures of similar Trust developments to learn from them and will also hold a couple of sessions to consult with children about what they would like to have.  I feel really excited about this project and can’t wait to get started on it.

    Meanwhile, we have started work on the Braithwaite Common project that I mentioned last week.

     A sizeable group of village residents turned out last weekend and set to work helping with the clearing of some undergrowth and laying a hedge.  As you can see from the photographs, their enthusiasm and sheer hard work achieved a lot in just one day.

    Hi, it’s Daisy here,

    Che’s been staying with us again.  Che’s always staying with us.  I think he’s moved in!  I quite like it though.  I was getting bullied the other day and Che came and stuck up for me.  He was great.

  • Shocking news about a perchcrow.

    06:15 08 March 2014
    By Roy Henderson

    I have three exciting things to report this week.  I’ll start with the alarming news from Wordsworth House in Cockermouth.  If you have been following the blog of Fletch the Perchcrow, you will know that he has been kidnapped and there has been a ransom demand.  Fletch is a very friendly chap who allows crows to perch on him so it’s difficult to know why anyone would do this.  The ransom demand was originally for cake and coffee but has now escalated to cake, coffee and scones.  From my perspective as a ranger, I think the staff at Wordsworth House might have buckled too easily to the demands.  Where is this going to end? 

    You can see from these photographs why we are so worried about him.  Check for any recent developments at Fletch’s blog.


    The second thing to report is the beginning of a new project in Braithwaite village.  After discussion at a meeting with the Parish Council and a large group of village residents, a plan has been developed to manage Braithwaite Common.  There were many views expressed about how best to do this ranging from creating a garden to allowing it to grow naturally into a wild area.  We have now arrived at a compromise that will allow villagers to use and enjoy the site but will also encourage diversity of species.  Next weekend, I will be working with my regular volunteers and a group of enthusiastic villagers to begin that project.  I am hoping I will also be able to involve the village school children in this. An earlier, small project for the common was to plant fruit trees that are there for any villagers to use.  This more ambitious stage is likely to be a five year programme so watch this blog for news of how that develops.

    And finally for now, I’ve been with 24 others to a National Trust training event run by one of the South Lakes rangers.  It was a Dark Sky Discovery training session.  This is something I have not known much about before now but he was an excellent, very knowledgeable trainer.  I am now very keen to develop these ideas especially with children.  If only we could guarantee clear skies!

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.