News from Roy Henderson for September 2014

  • Contrasts

    13:29 25 September 2014
    By Roy Henderson

    Last week was one of remarkable contrasts for me. 

    Firstly I attended a National Trust Rangers Conference at Speke Hall in Liverpool.  Speke Hall is a Tudor building situated beside Liverpool airport and that in itself is a startling contrast. 

    The conference was excellent. With rangers from many different types of properties to meet and some very good workshops there is always a lot to learn.  To keep costs to a minimum, we were all asked to camp.  I took our camper-van.  As you can imagine, it was a noisy night with planes taking off & landing and grass-cutting beside the runways throughout most of the night.

    I then returned to the Lakes and spent a night on the high fells helping to marshal a challenge event for the Youth Venture Trust.  Two of us camped up there overnight.  It was a clear night with fantastic star cover and silence.  It could not have been more different from the previous night beside an airport.

    Those two nights illustrated perfectly that the National Trust has an amazing range of experiences to offer you.

    I also returned to do some more work on Friars Crag.  You might remember that our foresters felled some trees and we used them to cover some old, decaying gabions that were protecting a stretch of shore from erosion.  We then covered them with material from our dredging operation that keeps the landing stage on Derwent Island usable.  I have now raked the top soil and seeded it.  Once the planting is well-established, we hope it will provide the necessary erosion control and will also allow visitors to walk along it.  We could have done the job with a dry-stone wall but this option would have cost about £15000.  Doing it this way means we have used our Trust manpower and local materials from other essential tasks.

    Ideally I would have preferred to do the planting earlier in the year to give the plants a good start but the weather forecast is good for a while so I’m hoping they will be sufficiently established before we have any storms.

    Daisy here;  

    My exam was cancelled.  I got all excited and it didn’t happen.  But I’ve been told it will soon and I’ve got a special jacket.  I’ve been swimming in the lake.  I swam too much and I’ve got labrador tail again.  Sigh!
  • Art in unexpected places.

    14:10 18 September 2014
    By Roy Henderson

    This year the National Trust is working with C-Art (Cumbria Artists Open Studios) on a new scheme where, for three weeks, artists and their work will be found in extraordinary places.  In my valley, Borrowdale, you will be able to find installations and working artists in a number of places.

    At Ashness Bridge you will be able to find an installation featuring fleece, skulls and bones at the “Bark Barn” and the surrounding hillsides.

    Around the Bowder Stone and nearby slate quarry, you will find art inspired by the Vikings.
    You will also be able to see a ceramicist at work if you visit Watendlath Barn. 

    All of these events and installations are temporary so their places will return to their previous status after September 28th when C-Art ends.

    My favourite is where “Bark House” near Ashness Bridge has been wrapped in sheep’s wool. It might sound ridiculous if you haven’t seen it but I’m finding that the vast majority of people who see it have a big smile.  That’s not a bad reaction to it.  Of course, as for any art work, there are mixed reviews but these pieces are certainly generating reactions.  Different people will have different tastes.  Anything that stimulates reaction and discussion or persuades people to go to see other artworks, has to be a good thing to do.

    By the end of September it will be as though they were never there but a lot of people will have a different perspective on our landscape.  You can read more about the National Trust and C-Art here.

    Daisy here.  Roy’s back.  It’s great.  I’m going back to work.  I’ve been playing in rivers and lakes. 

    Life’s brilliant.  I’ve got an exam soon as well.  I’m a bit worried, it’s for the rescue training.  I’ll let you know if I pass.

  • Mountain School

    15:20 09 September 2014
    By Roy Henderson

    I write this having just returned from a week of mountain rescue training in the Dolomites.  Two groups each with twelve members drawn from six rescue teams will have spent a week enhancing their rope skills to the most up-to-date techniques. 

    I travelled out early with two other team members and we met up with our guides, Kirk and Christjan to recce good sites to use for our training.  I’ve worked with Kirk before so know him quite well but Christjan was new to us.  Both were excellent and had a lot to teach us. We were then joined by the rest of group one and were based in the mountain hut you can see in the photo.  It was ideally located with short walks in to big crags so we had as much time as possible refreshing existing skills and learning new techniques.  Group two followed for training in the second week.

    We were particularly keen to learn new techniques for using guiding lines.  Rescuing people from vertical crags is relatively easy.  It is much more difficult from smaller crags and across broken ground and this is when good use of guiding lines is safer for both rescuers and casualties.  The priority has to be to minimize the danger to rescuers.

    It is five years since I last did a similar training course and knowledge is constantly developing about things like stresses in ropes systems.  Kirk is at the forefront of such research so is an ideal trainer to develop our skills to the highest standards.

    At 3200 metres

    As it happened, the day after arriving back, we were called out to a rescue where we could put into practice our newly honed skills to rescue a couple of people from some very steep, nasty, uneven ground.  Of the nine who carried out the rescue, three had been on the course and were able to guide the others through using the most up-to-date techniques.

    All in all, it was an excellent course.  We learned lots and I really enjoyed being in the mountains enjoying the company of a group of like-minded people.

     Daisy here.  Roy’s been away but Che came to stay so that was quite good.

    Daisy here.  Roy’s been away but Che came to stay so that was quite good.

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.