Thursday, 30 June 2011

Summer Solstice and more.

I’m  not sure how this all fitted into a week but it did!  For three days four of the Trust’s rangers were on duty to monitor the Summer Solstice activities that take place at Castlerigg stone circle.  Several hundred people arrived to celebrate mid-summer.  Unfortunately we had overcast weather so the sunrise was hidden but it didn’t seem to dampen the revellers’ spirits.  Once they had all departed, we visited the site for a clean-up operation.  With so many visitors to the site over three days we would not have been surprised if there had been some litter.  What we found was that the site had been treated with great care and any litter had already been cleared – it was hard to believe that so many people had been there just the day before.  It’s great to have people coming who appreciate and respect the area as they did.

Much of the rest of the week was used for meetings to begin our plans for the National Walking Festival at the end of October.  Maurice, our forest ranger will be leading a fungi foray; Mark, the Buttermere ranger will lead a walk around the lake and I will be leading a walk from Great Wood to Walla Crag and Falcon Crag finishing at Ashness Bridge.  Check the website soon for details about those.

Autumn forest colours.

A little bit of New England in the Lake District!

A carpet of fungi.

I then had a meeting to put the finishing touches to an event at High Snab Farm when Venture Scouts will be able to shear some sheep and do some dry-stone walling.

Finally, I went to help Chris, our coast ranger, with his activities for the Whitehaven festival.

Oh yes, nearly forgot that I did manage to fit in some climbing in Wales and some cycling to prepare for a trip to Spain!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Industrial legacy and water travel.

This week saw a return to the Force Crag mine project.  This is an important experimental project to deal with the polluted water flowing from the mine.   
Site inspection to monitor water clean-up project.

Alistair (NT North Lakes Manager), John (NT Water Adviser) and I met at the site with representatives from a number of organisations involved including the Environment Agency and the National Coal Board.  We all need to meet regularly to discuss the effectiveness of what we have done so far and to make decisions about how we continue the work.

Disused mine shaft
We took the opportunity to take more water samples for analysis to identify all the pollutants.  I then carried on up to High Force to dig a ditch across one of the open shafts to stop as much water as possible actually going into the mine.  We want to stop as much water as possible entering in the first place and also to treat what does.

Digging out diversion ditch - Reiver supervising!
Reiver came with me to High Force and it turned out to be too much for her ageing joints – I had to carry her some distance back to the vehicle.  She recovered considerably after a good night’s rest and is now her usual cheerful self but sadly for both of us that will have to be the last of her big walks.

If you have been following the blog for some time, you will have noticed that canoes have had several mentions.  They are not always merely a leisure activity.  Sometimes they can be very useful to access lake-side sites and John and I recently took the opportunity to check out a length of the lake shore and the islands.  As you can see from the following pictures, our dogs are just as keen to take part as they are to go for walks!

One way for our Water Adviser to go to work!
Spot the dogs.

Three dogs in a boat (and one swimming ashore).

Friday, 10 June 2011

Superb alfresco dining.

Our work placement student from the University of Cumbria, John has just completed his final week with us.  Much of the week was spent around the lake shore and Friars Crag area making sure that it reflected the development work that has gone into improving the area.  We are hoping to be successful with an application for a Green Flag Award for the area that extends from the path at the subway leaving town, via Hope Park, then along the foreshore and on to Friars Crag.  The Derwentwater Foreshore project is a collaboration between the National Trust (Naomi is the Trust’s development officer for this project), Allerdale Borough Council, Cumbria Vision, the Heritage Lottery Fund, and Keswick Partnership, as well as the Lake District National Park Authority, Keswick Town Council and Keswick Civic Society.  

Evening light at Derwentwater foreshore.
Go here for more about that:
On the Friday I, John, Naomi, a representative of the National Park Authority, an officer of the Town Council and a Green Flag judge spent the afternoon walking the area and looking at the development work that has been and continues to be done.  We are now waiting and hoping that the green flag will be awarded.

If you visit the foreshore now, we hope you will agree that the area is very-family friendly. 

Bring your cheese & apple, fish & chips or designer picnic ...

There are many new seats that are proving to be very popular.  They are being well-used by families who are choosing to sit there in the evenings with their fish and chips etc.  There cannot be many better views from a restaurant.  We think they are the best views of course but we might be slightly biased!

... then feast on the view.  

For us, one of the good things about the lakeside is that it is one of the places where people like to talk to us about the area and what we are doing.  It is a good place to get feedback from a wide range of people.  Throughout the summer some of our volunteers will be spending time there as ‘welcomers’.  Do go and talk to them – that’s why they are there!

Friday, 3 June 2011

Rescue training.

This was a week where I was able to take a week away from Trust duties using lieu days accumulated by working weekends and Bank holidays.   Friends from Canada, Kirk and Jo Mauthner, came to stay and enjoy some walking and climbing in the Lakes.  Kirk then ran a course for Rescue Team members.  I have worked with him twice before in Canada and it was well worth having him here to run the course for those who had not had that opportunity.

We started with work indoors on theory and in the rope training area of the Keswick Team base.  Just as well we did that because the weather was foul that day!  We then moved to outdoor work starting at Steel Knott behind Castle Crag and then on to Sharp Edge.  This is one of our black-spots where we have many callouts and the terrain is particularly difficult especially in poor weather.  We did a lot of work here on rigging a guide line or an aerial rope-way to get a stretcher out of the gulley which is the usual place for fallers.  Guide ropes are primarily to make life easier for the ‘barrow boys’ who go down with the casualty on the stretcher.  A few years ago I had a good rattling accompanying a stretcher down so I know the value of a guide rope.

Rigging an aerial rope. 

Aerial evacuation of an empty stretcher this time.

Our next training site was Castle Nook up Newlands valley.  This is a low angle slope with lots of vegetation and steps that make it more difficult for ‘barrow boys’. So we had lots of practice rigging ropes for the slightly different problems posed by the terrain.  Like anything else, regular training and practice with the techniques we use make it easier to swing into action when it is a real call-out.

Barrow boys with a volunteer 'casualty'.
I returned to Trust duty for a damp and chilly Bank Holiday weekend but there were still plenty of people who intended to enjoy the Lakes.