News from Roy Henderson for July 2015

  • A 16th century dam.

    17:13 27 July 2015
    By Roy Henderson

    I’ve just had a really good day on one of my trips to monitor the dam up Newlands Valley. As it is a structure that is part of a Scheduled Ancient Monument, I check its condition on a regular basis. At the moment there is some water flowing from the toe of the dam wall so it appears to have sprung a leak.

    It might just be water that is overflowing from either side of the top of the wall and then tracking across and down to the toe of the dam – that’s my best guess. Perhaps when the water level is lower during a long dry period, we will find that there is no apparent leakage. The trust archaeologist, Jamie and our water advisor John have both been informed and will also be monitoring the situation.

    We have consulted with the Environment Agency about the potential if ever the retaining wall should fail catastrophically. It is so far up the valley that the volume of water held in the dam would not be a danger downstream. Even so, we do want to protect it as part of the area’s heritage. The dam was originally constructed by the Elizabethan miners who worked the Goldscope mine in Newlands valley. Water from the dam was channelled along a leat to turn water wheels that powered the machinery they needed.

    Its main purpose now is to supply drinking water to the Trust’s High Snab Farmso Tom, the farmer, will also be monitoring it. The water is filtered as it leaves the dam so I cleaned out the filter while I was up there. It is piped down the valley and any remaining particulates are filtered out as it goes into a header tank at the farm. It then undergoes UV treatment and the result is the sweetest drinking water you could wish for.

    This is one of those tasks that is a great pleasure. High Snab is a great farm to visit. It is immaculate; Tom is always welcoming and the kettle is always ‘on’.

    Daisy here,

    We’ve been to High Snab dam. Jan came with us. It was great. I ran backwards and forwards, backwards and forwards across the top of the dam. It was great.
  • King Pocky's Regatta

    09:31 16 July 2015
    By Roy Henderson

    Early morning start.

    Well, we are all just about recovered from the long hours of setting up and dismantling King Pocky’s Derwentwater Regatta. (Look for the short video of the 2015 event.)

    King Pocky was Joseph Pocklington who, in the 18th century bought Derwent Island and had the large house built. He then designed his regatta for local people to either take part in water-based activities or enjoy a fair on Crow Park. We have tried to recreate the spirit of fun and mayhem of his vision. We didn’t sink pontoons in the lake so that horses could race between the island and shore. We didn’t go as far as a mock cannon attack from the island to repel local invaders but we did fire a small cannon from Crow Park at intervals! However, there were many other fun activities both on water and on shore.

    There were many ways to participate in the action including dragon boat racing and boarding. For landlubbers there were craft activities and traditional fairground rides. Spectators could just enjoy the festival atmosphere and sightings of the occasional pirate, Georgian or Viking.

    This is the third year since the revival of the regatta and it is rapidly growing in size and popularity. I spoke to many people over the weekend and all were agreed that it was hugely enjoyable.  Seeing so many people having a great time makes all the long days worthwhile.

    Daisy here,

    It’s been the regatta.  I don’t like the cannon. It’s too noisy.

  • Fence inspections, erosion control and transporting scaffolding!

    11:41 09 July 2015
    By Roy Henderson

    Last week was a very varied week for me. I spent some time on the high fells checking the state of the fencing around old mine shafts. We do that at quarterly intervals. There are a number of open vertical shafts in some places and we obviously don’t want anyone falling down them.

    I also spent a day driving the boat to and from Derwent Island. The main task there was to help remove the scaffolding that had been taken over for work that has been recently carried out on the house on the island. So I had a really nice day as boat driver.

    Then, as reported briefly before, I’ve been working in Stoneycroft Ghyll with the footpath team and the estate rangers where we were winching a boulder to clear a route through the watercourse. This is a very large boulder about 2m x 1.5m x 1.5 m in size. It had probably fallen into the ghyll at some point in the past and was too big to ever be moved on through the entrance to the pool. So, with a combination of winches and some hard graft, we were able to move it to the side of the ghyll to clear a through route for scramblers. It took some doing but we think it will prove to be well worth the effort.




    Some scramblers who were coming through on the day were very pleased with the improvement for them but I have also asked outdoor instructors to use the chute and pool and to let me know of their views. From the Trust’s perspective, it will be successful if it encourages users to stay within the watercourse rather than cause erosion by leaving to walk around the obstruction.

    As always, we are trying to find the best ways to follow the Trust’s ethos by creating a balance between access for all whilst still protecting the special qualities of our landscape.

    Daisy here;

    I’ve had a great week - up on the high fells, running around on Derwent Island and then playing in the water. It’s great.

  • News Flash

    12:45 04 July 2015
    By Roy Henderson

    In Stoneycroft Ghyll in the Newlands Valley, we have moved the rock that is known as legbreaker rock . The primary reason for doing this is to stop further erosion caused by groups leaving the ghyll to go around the rock and the water slide. This will enable groups to stay within the water-course rather than creating erosion around it.

    This is a win/win situation where we minimise erosion and also create a more enjoyable experience for ghyll scramblers.
  • A great work experience team.

    16:47 01 July 2015
    By Roy Henderson

    I’ve been working last week with four young men aged 15 from Keswick School who were on a work experience placement. They were with me for a full week of my working days. They were a really nice group of lads who got stuck into some hard work. You can see from the photographs just how much they achieved.



    They repaired a ladder stile on the route from Watendlath to Kings Howe. Whilst we were up there we did a bit of deer spotting and saw about 20 red deer – that was a nice bonus. We did some maintenance work on the path along the western shore of Derwentwater to make sure that it remains accessible for wheelchair users. We also did some work on the footpath at Broomhill Point and then collected some brash to use at the Regatta for den building in the wild play area in the woodland behind the National Trust shop by the Lake.

    They also attended two meetings with me. One was a full day with Natural England and the other was a Trust planning meeting for the Derwentwater Regatta which will take place this year on the weekend of July 11thand 12th. It’s always useful to see things from a new perspective so it was good to have them contributing to the discussions.

    Ten years ago I had Dan doing similar work experience with me. He moved on from school to college to gain relevant qualifications and eventually he came back and joined us as one of our rangers. This kind of experience can inspire people to aim for a career in the Trust and it would be good to see any of them back in a few years. Read below for some of the things they said about their week.
    Unfortunately Daisy missed out on enjoying meeting them.  She has been spending her days on Derwent Island on ‘light duties’. The staples are now removed from her paw but she needs a few more days before she’s free to tear around on rough terrain.

    Here are some extracts of the things Nelson, Alex, Alan & Aaron had to say:
    Aaron. I’ve really enjoyed work experience this week because it’s outdoors ... in future I would love to work outdoors and especially with people.
    Andy. I really enjoyed this week because I like working with people and being outdoors. I also liked working with the National Trust and I think it might be something I want to do in the future.
    Alex. I’ve enjoyed this work experience because I’ve done things I wouldn’t normally do. I would probably ... like to come back here to work when I’m older.
    Nelson. I think it is good to respect and manage the beauty of nature. I’ve enjoyed work experience this week with the National Trust. I think it’s good that we were able to work outdoors.

    Daisy here

    I’ve been going to Derwent Island. It’s great. I get to play with lots of dogs over there.

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.