News from Roy Henderson for August 2015

  • Great trip to Canada

    17:40 28 August 2015
    By Roy Henderson

    Jan and myself have just returned from a fantastic three week holiday in Canada where we travelled as far north as Jasper and as far south as Invermere on the shores of Windermere.

    We spent some of the time with some friends Andy, Sarah and their two growing sons. They now live in Canmore and we managed to do some good things with them.

    Andy is super-fit at the moment and is into 50 and 100 mile races. He ranks in the top 20 in North America. In contrast I am still on the road to recovery from illness earlier this year and am not as fit as I have been in the past. Despite that Andy did manage to coax me up some big hills.We then spent some time with other friends and did some canoeing, rafting and walking with Kirk and his family.

    Whilst we were there we managed to see a lot of wild-life that we have not seen on previous visits. We have seen bears before and this time spotted a black bear. A particularly special sighting was of a lynx but sadly I wasn’t able to take a photograph of that. We also saw lots of squirrels, marmots, deer and elk etc. So, we had a great trip!

    But you don’t have to go to Canada to see wild life. You can come and see it in the Lake District or in your home area. In the Watendlath area you can see an ant highway for example.This are made by hairy wood ants (formica lugubris) that are found in coniferous forests.  They may not be big mammals but they are still very interesting. You can read about some hairy wood ant research that is taking place on a National Trust estate in the Peak District at this link.  

    I’ve also included some pictures of animal tracks we saw in Canada. If you look carefully, you might be surprised at how many tracks you can find in your garden or the nearest park. It’s often a particularly good time to look when there is a fresh fall of snow or even muddy puddles. Even if you can’t identify them all, you will see just how many creatures frequent quite small areas.

    Daisy here: Jan’s Mum and Dad came to look after me whilst Roy and Jan were away. It was great. They gave me special treats but I don’t think Roy is supposed to know.

  • Beating back bracken and brambles!

    05:49 14 August 2015
    By Roy Henderson

    Leila (Academy Ranger) here with one of my occasional posts.

    Derwentwater from beneath Falcon Crag
    I’ve recently been working with Sarah and John of Roy's volunteer team to clear some overgrown footpaths. This is the time of year when the bracken and brambles can really start towering over some of the Trust's more out-of-the-way paths. That isn’t to say they’re not still well used and there were plenty of grateful walkers passing us, particularly those who had just walked through the bracken jungle on the section we hadn’t done yet. In favourable conditions, bracken can grow to a height of 2 metres or more! 

    This is the kind of work that can slip down the priority list because it’s not essential maintenance – the paths are still usable and most of the vegetation dies back over winter – but it is greatly appreciated by anyone who has had to walk through bracken on a wet day and it is certainly worth doing. 

    Fortunately for us it was a gloriously sunny day. It made for hot work but we were well rewarded with some stunning views of Derwentwater from under Falcon Crag. As ever, the volunteers did a great job. 

  • Trees, flowers, birds, benches ... all in a day's work!

    08:08 01 August 2015
    By Roy Henderson

    One of the great pleasures of my job is the unexpected. I was out and about recently with Leila (our academy ranger) working on Friars Crag and in the middle of the day we were treated to the sight of a young tawny owl. They are beautiful birds and it’s good to know that they are thriving in the area.

    Leila has also been working with the forestry team on tree safety tasks along the Borrowdale valley roadside. The Stagecoach bus company operates a popular open-topped double-decker bus service in Borrowdale and they were becoming concerned about overhanging tree branches. After discussions with Maurice, our woodlands ranger, Stagecoach offered the services of one of their drivers and an open-topped bus for the day. It made it so much easier for the Trust’s foresters to work at just the right height and the bus company was happy to have encroaching branches trimmed back. As they worked from the top deck, other rangers were on the ground clearing the debris quickly and controlling the traffic. The driver could just drive on when necessary. It was a very efficient alternative to hiring an expensive ‘cherry-picker’ (mobile elevating work platform). This was a win/win situation and a great example of effective collaboration.

    We have also been out and about replacing old seats.

    Working on one of them on the western shore of Derwentwater gave me the chance to see the improvement that followed on from some footpath work we did a while ago. Fifteen or so years ago there had been a widening track across some boggy ground. After installing a boardwalk, the vegetation alongside the path regenerated quickly and it was fantastic to see the number of plants re-colonising the area now.

    Another gratifying part of the job was to meet a couple who were packing up early one morning after a night ‘wild’ camping. They were a great example of how to do it and they left the site immaculate. As they walked away, they left no sign that they had ever been there and they had had a great night. That is how we want people to enjoy the landscape.

    Daisy here, 

    I’ve been playing in the wildflowers. I can run really fast.

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.