Monday, 31 January 2011

Rain and more rain

Monday morning at work and we’d had an awful lot of rain during the weekend.  The lake level was right up.  We have a very popular footpath near Keswick that floods on a regular basis and stops people being able to walk through the woodland.  It also causes a lot of damage to the footpath and every year large sections have to be repaired.  So, we are looking at alternatives rather than just repeating the same-old-same-old. 
One of the things we are looking at is the potential for putting a recycled-plastic board-walk through the wood to raise the path above the water level.  This would mean it would be accessible for most or all of the year and would need little maintenance.  We’ve already put a similar board-walk at the southern end of Derwentwater and that has been an extremely successful project.  Although it is early days, we have a lot of planning consents to get prior to work starting so it was an opportune time to go through the area and check the flood water levels.  I put a lot of posts in a canoe, donned a dry suit and, using the canoe as my floating wheelbarrow, went through the wood.  Every 20 metres on the line for the path, I hammered in a post so that the top of the post was 10 cm above the lake level to give me a uniform level through the woodland.  I’d surveyed the previous posts with a ‘stumpy’ level and found they were uniformly 10 cm below the lake level so it was very useful to go through when it was flooded!
Later that day, as I drove between two sites in Borrowdale, I saw two different pairs of roe deer.  In the middle of the day, in the middle of the fields, they were just grazing happily. 

Spot the deer!


Fishing for a lost mattock!

One of the things we do is look after the four islands on Derwentwater.  Three of them are open to the public all year round and the fourth is rented by private tenants  – the house and island are open to the public five days a year (check out  for details.) 

As you know, we had a particularly cold winter and our tenants contacted me on Christmas Eve because they were unable to get to the mainland by boat due to the build up of ice.  Last winter four of us from the Mountain Rescue Team went across with the ice rescue kit and helped them to get off the island.  This Christmas we had a particularly busy time with rescues and the guys were spent.  So I checked the tenants had enough provisions and suggested they hunkered down.  They decided themselves that the ice was thick enough to walk on (having said that, they were wearing dry suits and buoyancy aids!).  Cumbria Fire and Rescue and the mountain rescue teams had several joint ice-rescue practices during the Christmas period.  We were all really worried with people walking on the ice.  On the 3rd of January somebody went through the ice but thankfully managed to get out.  So I decided with the tenants on the 4th that we would break them out on the 5th.  The tenant and I, and Joe from the National Trust footpath team, spent most of the day breaking a channel through the ice with axes, mattocks and various tools.

Ice on Derwentwater

Living on an island must be fantastic but it does have its drawbacks.

Ranger Roy's blog from Borrowdale

I’m the National Trust ranger for Borrowdale and Newlands in the North Lakes, UK.  I volunteered for the Trust since the age of 13 when I came on the Duke of Edinburgh award scheme and worked with the local warden.  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 at 16 when I was lucky enough to get a job with the National Trust.  I have now worked for the National Trust for 28 years and still love the job and this area.
When I was 18 and an obsessive rock-climber, I was asked to join the Keswick Mountain Rescue Team.  I have now been a deputy leader with the team for 20 years.  The National Trust is flexible enough for me to rearrange my hours to go on rescues. My constant companion for the last eleven years has been Reiver, my golden retriever.  Reiver likes nothing better than days when we are out on the hill.

View down Borrowdale.

Hopefully you'll follow my blog to see what we do.