Monday, 31 October 2011

Mud and more mud.

There were three main projects to work on last week and all three involved people from our variously talented team of volunteers.

The first was a maintenance job on a footpath in the Great Wood car park area.  An annual task is to clear such access-for-all paths of accumulating mud, leaves and encroaching vegetation.  If the condition of the paths is allowed to decay, people begin to walk along the side to find firm ground and the area of trampled, damaged ground increases.  That’s not good for the ecology of the area or for the enjoyment of walkers.

Path maintenance
The second project was to continue work on routing water through an old mill pond site to reduce flood risk in the village of Braithwaite.  This is now underway after consultation with Jamie Lund, the Trust’s archaeologist.   The mill pond is of historical significance in the development of the village and we wanted to be sure that we would not irrevocably damage the story it can tell about the past.  To minimize the impact of what we are doing, we are hand digging through the old pond.  We are not expecting to make any exciting discoveries but …

Improving drainage - Reiver supervising!.
The final task for the week was a meeting with staff from the University of Cumbria to plan the next step towards a research partnership between the university and the Trust.  The university has research capacity in many areas that are relevant to the work of the Trust and there is enormous potential for collaboration.  This is a project that won’t come to fruition overnight but each meeting is moving us closer to setting up a good partnership.

Colouring up nicely for Autumn. 
All of this is happening against a backdrop of rich autumn colour – a few sunny days will set the scene for some great images.

Monday, 24 October 2011


A few weeks ago I mentioned that the Derwentwater Foreshore project was being inspected for its Green Flag award.  The good news is that the project has been successful.  Go here to read more about that.

Friars Crag, Derwentwater foreshore

So it’s congratulations to Naomi and her team for that achievement.  If you are one of the many thousands who have enjoyed the walk from Lake Road to Friars Crag, you will know what a fantastic little walk it is.  If you haven’t done so, you are missing a treat – no matter the time of day or what the weather is!

Evening light at the boat landings, Derwentwater foreshore.
We also have great skies!  (Altocumulus - mid-level clouds at 2000 to 6000 metres)
It’s now the time of year when we begin to have some time to reflect on all our activities and plan for what follows.  An important part of that is to get together with colleagues that we rarely see during the busiest months.  So, we recently had a Rangers’ Day where we shared experiences, lessons learned and ideas.  My contribution was to talk about the new initiatives at High Snab Farm – the sheep clipping, the lambing, the dry-stone walling etc.  These were all popular and we hope there will be more next year.  Diversifying like this is crucial to the survival of hill farming and we are constantly thinking of viable options.

Learn to clip sheep on your holiday.
I came away from the day mulling over an idea being used by the Wasdale Rangers.  They have been using a mountain bike and trailer for some of their work.  It is something I think could work well in Borrowdale when we are doing jobs close to our base that just need small items of equipment.  It’s probably too time-consuming for regular use for the furthest reaches of the valley and, of course, some jobs just need a vehicle to transport heavy equipment.  But I do like the idea of reducing our fossil fuel use where possible.  I also like the idea that we would be more approachable for visitors – chatting with visitors gives us great feed-back.

Another really useful session was on techniques for taking good photographs that we can use on blogs like this or indeed for any of our events and activities. 

It was a good day – lots of ideas and it also renewed the sense of belonging to a team with the same aims.

Hope to meet some of the blog readers soon - maybe at the walk I am leading this coming Friday:
Friday Oct 28th 10.30 – 15.30:  Autumn Colours and Panoramic Views from Walla Crag, Borrowdale.  Contact: 017687 74649

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Events: One late-night, one cancelled and several upcoming.

One of the features of our job as Rangers is that we can be called at more or less any time to deal with incidents where people are not sure where to report them.  It might be a sheep with a limp – we would phone the farmer.  It might be a camp-fire that is causing concern – we would go out to make sure it was safely extinguished.  This time it was a late night call to tell me that the intruder alarm on Derwent Isle was sounding.  I called the police and two police officers and I went over to investigate.

A late-night adventure!
There had been somebody there but they left as we arrived.  We couldn’t find them in the darkness.  Fortunately, there were no signs of damage at the house – maybe they were just curious.  The alarm did its job though and there was a very quick response to the incident.

I was less lucky with a planned weekend canoe event.  The weather forecast predicted gusts of 60 to 70 mph which would have whipped up a very choppy lake.  The instructor decided that it would not be safe to take out 12 people in such conditions so we had to cancel it.  We will plan it again in future.

Storm brewing?
We will be hoping for better luck with the weather for the following planned walks.  
The Trust is holding a walking festival from 22nd to 30th October.  
Our North Lakes walks are:

Wednesday Oct 26th 12.30 pm:  Woodlands Forest and Fungi, Brandlehow.  Contact: 017687 74649

Thursday Oct 27th 11am – 3 pm:  Walk in the Footsteps of Buttermere Legends.  Contact: 017687 74649

Friday Oct 28th 6-9 pm:   Spooky Halloween Stories in Wild Ennerdale.  Contact: 017687 74649

Friday Oct 28th 10.30 – 15.30:  Autumn Colours and Panoramic Views from Walla Crag, Borrowdale.  Contact: 017687 74649

Do come and join us and introduce yourself as a blog-reader.

Sights on an Autumn walk.
Go to for more information about Lakes walks.

Friday, 7 October 2011

Another team of fantastic 'grafters'.

Last week saw the last of our 2011 working-holiday groups arrive.  They stayed in Isthmus Cottage which has the fantastic views down the lake that you can see in an earlier photo I posted.  A nice surprise was that I recognized 8 of the 11 in the group – they had been on earlier working holidays.

Eleven workers in the hands!
As usual with these groups, they did lots of great work.  We started by completing work on an access-for-all path on the shores of Derwentwater.  This has now opened up a new area for those with limited mobility to enjoy.

Lunch with a view.
We then moved on to Millbeck Towers which is now a holiday-letting property owned by the Trust.  This is an imposing building with spectacular views.  In the 18th century it was a Carding Mill.  It then became a private house and was eventually taken over by the Trust.  There are several streams around the grounds that need maintenance to avoid flooding so we did some clearing there.  The site has a fascinating history and you can read more here

Millbeck Towers
Clearing a stream
They completed their week in Seatoller car park where they installed stone strips to mark out the parking spaces – a labour-intensive job that needed doing to make the best use of limited but much in demand parking.

Marking out parking spaces
Having so many people return shows just how much they enjoy these experiences and the Trust and indeed all who enjoy the area benefit enormously from their efforts.

The end of a busy day!

I ended my week with a weekend at Abbey Falls on the Tees doing my Swiftwater Rescue refresher training.  These are skills that can be used out in the hills during heavy rainfall conditions – we are better able to protect visitors, ourselves and colleagues.  The Mountain Rescue team can also be called into action for flooding in towns as we were in Keswick, Cockermouth and Workington during the serious flooding of November 2009.