News from Roy Henderson for October 2015

  • Consultation.

    11:41 30 October 2015
    By Roy Henderson

    This week I’ve been preparing for two consultation sessions followed by walks in the Ings woodland. This is a wetland area with a walk quite close to the lake and it often floods. We are genuinely consulting with as many people as possible about their views on how we can best improve all year access.


    As usual in the Lakes, we are looking for the best balance between access and conservation. The area is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) so it is important to protect the wetland vegetation. One way we feel we can do this is to construct a recycled boardwalk like the one that has been successful at the southern end of Derwentwater. (We have also used it beside our shop.) Natural England has indicated that they would see a boardwalk made from recycled materials as a suitable solution. The following pictures show its use.

    It is half-term holidays for schools so we are expecting a lot of visitors. I’m hoping that many of them will drop in on one of the sessions to have their say about the proposal. It’s always possible that someone can see the situation with a fresh perspective and might offer an idea that hasn’t occurred to us so it’s worth having these consultation sessions.

    Daisy here,

    I love running through the Ings. Everybody calls it Dirty Wood though.
  • Ghylls and mines.

    11:05 22 October 2015
    By Roy Henderson

    Last week took me away from my usual territory in the Borrowdale area to spend some time in Eskdale in the South Lakes. One of the rangers there, Clive, is setting up a working group to look at issues relating to ghyll scrambling. This is an activity which is growing in popularity and it has the potential to create some problems. The two main concerns are erosion of the landscape and conflict between a minority of users and the farming community.

    This can be the result of lack of awareness from the users so Clive has decided to nip it in the bud at an early stage in the development of the activity in the Eskdale area. This first gathering of the working group consisted of a number of representatives from outdoor centres, the local farmer, representatives from the Lake District National Park Authority and of course the National Trust.

    It was a very successful day and everyone who was there seemed to leave feeling positive and optimistic for the future. Clive will now move on to the next stage and will develop a Code of Conduct so that all concerned can feel that a balance respecting their needs has been found. In the North Lakes we have already developed a similar code and so far it seems to be working well.

    For me it was a great day. It’s good to share experiences with others who are working in another location – there’s always a new perspective to give me food for thought. And the Eskdale area, although different from my Borrowdale, has its own beauty.

    Elsewhere in the week I took advantage of the good weather and made one of my regular, quarterly checks of the safety fencing and signing around the old wad (graphite) mine shafts on the high fells above Seathwaite. It’s important to keep these in good order as we don’t want anyone falling into a shaft. 

    It’s also important because the wad mine is the only example of its type in the world. It is actually a scheduled ancient monument with the same status as St Paul’s Cathedral. During the reign of Elizabeth I the wad was used in the manufacture of cannon balls and the mine was so important that it was protected by armed militia.  It also became the foundation for the world’s first pencil manufacturing, an industry that carries on here to this day although it no longer uses local graphite.

    Daisy here.

    I’ve been running round the fells with Roy. He’s been looking at holes in the ground. I don’t know why but running round’s great.
  • Autumn glory approaching.

    11:38 15 October 2015
    By Roy Henderson

    Last week began with a trip back to the bridge in Ings Wood on the Derwentwater shore. We had already replaced its handrail but I returned with one of my volunteers to complete the job by finishing off the abutments. All these details are what will ensure that the path is accessible for as many users as possible.

    Another wood-working project that is underway is an unusual one. Those who know Borrowdale well will probably have visited the Bowder Stone (a name possibly derived from Baldur, the son of the Norse god Odin). This is a massive chunk of rock measuring approximately 30'(9m) high, 50'(15m) across and 90'(27m) in circumference. It has been a must-see for travellers for hundreds of years. At one time it was owned by Joseph Pocklington. He recognised its commercial potential and around 1798 he erected the first fixed wooden steps for visitors to climb to the top.

    It is now in the ownership of the National Trust and its current steps have been well used by many thousands of people. We have replaced some of the treads recently but the time has come to consider a complete replacement of the stairway. So, I am now putting together a plan and pricing for that.

    Another project at the planning stage is the next stretch of accessible path around Derwentwater. We are hoping to collaborate with Keswick Tourism (KT) and the National Park Authority (NPA) to secure funding for this. So I spent some time with representatives of KT and NPA walking the path to consider what will be needed to achieve that. Happily, it was a glorious day and the autumn colours are just beginning to show. Borrowdale is always beautiful of course but the autumn colours add an extra attraction. It should be spectacular in a couple of weeks time and will be well worth a visit – remember to bring your camera.

    Daisy here. 

    I ran round the lake and in the lake and out of the lake and back in the lake. I like that sort of meeting.

  • Updating and assessment!

    13:49 09 October 2015
    By Roy Henderson

    Every three years those of us who work with chain-saws have to do a refresher course followed by an assessment and it was my turn this year. So, I spent two days last week in the South Lakes working with our senior forester Martin Thwaites. Over the course of three years there are always changes to good practice that have to be learned and also we might have developed some bad habits without realising it. Martin can spot these and iron them out during the course. I always learn a lot from him and this year was no exception.

    Another day was spent with a new volunteer for my team. Mick is someone I’ve known for a number of years now from my time on the Mountain Rescue Team. He is going to be a huge asset to my team of volunteers. His first task will be helping with a survey of the outdoors furniture – the gates, bridges & stiles etc. So I have been out with him looking at examples, discussing what I’m looking for and making sure that he has a good handle on how to report back his findings.

    Daisy here,

    I’ve been playing with Gus and Bryn on Derwent Island while Roy was chain-sawing. They’re my best friends now.
  • Running repairs.

    11:44 02 October 2015
    By Roy Henderson

    This is the time of year when we are out and about as often as possible fixing things. Last week my regular volunteers joined me to fix a gate on the path around Derwentwater. This is a massively popular walk around the lake. This particular gate is on the stretch from Friars Crag to Strandshag Bay and must be one of the most used gates in the Lake District. On some days thousands, of people will use it so it’s not surprising that it needs regular maintenance.

    We also did some maintenance on a stretch of the lake shore. This was a timely intervention to stop a relatively small erosion problem before it becomes more difficult to deal with. Great work from the volunteers again.

    Then, as I still had some holiday time outstanding, I took a few days of that during the glorious weather we are having. I had some superb walking in the Lake District. I know the area well and, of course, know Borrowdale especially well. We have lots of places that have become incredibly popular because they are so stunning but there are still many hidden gems to find and explore.

    Daisy here, 

    I’ve been running round the fells with Roy. It’s 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.