Friday, 23 December 2011

Derwentwater and Friars Crag

In this final approach to the Christmas period, we have focused our attention on ensuring that the Friars Crag area is at its best.  Every year large numbers of both visitors and locals make the walk from town, along the lake shore and down to the viewpoint at Friars Crag so we have made sure the path surfaces are in good condition. 

You can download a Trust guide to the walk here:

Often we are asked for advice about star-gazing or sunset-watching.  Friars Crag is ideal for both.  It is well away from any street lighting which makes it ideal for star-gazing on clear nights and, viewed from the new seating, the sunsets reflected in the lake can be breath-taking.

On a clear day there are spectacular views along Derwentwater and beyond the Jaws of Borrowdale.  It seems strange now to think that, before travelling in the Lake District became fashionable in the Victorian era, this was considered to be a forbidding or even terrifying vista.  Now it is one of the most popular places to visit.  Its beauty has inspired countless thousands including Ruskin and Canon Rawnsley, one of the Trust’s founders.

With the new seating installed as part of the Derwentwater Foreshore Project, I’m expecting even more people taking advantage of those.  The turkey sandwiches are bound to taste good when the views are this good!

If/when you visit Friars Crag, remember to take your camera.  It is a very rare day when it would not be possible to take good pictures – even if it is raining!  

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Thank you time

Now that we are coming to the end of the year, I got to thinking about all that has been achieved since January last.  We all appreciate what our volunteers do but taking the big view of a whole year really highlights the enormous contribution they make.

I have been lucky to work with huge numbers of enthusiastic and hard working people who contribute to a wide range of activities.  There are the Yorkshire contingent who came for a long weekend as they do each year.  Every year there are a couple of groups who spend a week on a working holiday – their base is either Isthmus Cottage or High Snab Farm.  We had international volunteers from 5 countries who came to work for a couple of days.  We’ve had a lot of young people with us this year as well.- school groups who stay in the youth hostel or Glaramara Outdoor Centre in Borrowdale.  They have joined in several projects from clearing drains to farm walks and educational experiences. 

We also have our regional NT volunteers.  They have covered a huge range of work from Jean and Jean (the volunteer volunteer-coordinators) to those who worked outdoors on maintenance (fixing gates, stiles, footpaths, bridges) to the litter-pickers and the dog-walkers who informally helped to maintain their favourite dog walk.  We have also had volunteers who have provided admin support.

…  and there will be people who quietly share our vision and play their part without ever making themselves known to us.  So, although we have a sense of having achieved a lot, we really do know that it would not be possible to do so much without all the fantastic people who give their time so willingly and enthusiastically. 

Many thanks to you all.

The pictures in this post tell the volunteers’ story better than words alone.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Them thar hills and goings on!

Regular readers of my blog will know that I have mentioned the disused Force Crag mine a few times.  If you are in the area in the next couple of weeks I guess the appearance of a drilling rig on the site might seem to be a bit odd.

There is nothing sinister going on!  Force Crag is the site of a DEFRA funded Water Framework Directive UK pilot project which is part of an initiative to improve the quality of water that flows from the mine and finds its way into Bassenthwaite Lake (a SSSI). The mine was once a source of zinc, lead and barites but it was abandoned after an underground collapse in 1991.  The National Trust is working in partnership with the Environment Agency, the Coal Authority and Newcastle University to pioneer a new technique for cleaning up the water.

During the drilling phase, the team will be taking core samples to look at the soil conditions at the site.  The drilling will also establish the levels of flooding in the mine to find out if it would be possible to drain it next year. We also need to know more about the mine and its surroundings before a decision is made about the best place to site a long-term treatment plant. And that’s the background story for the drilling that will be taking place for a few weeks. 

Given the weather we are having at present, the drilling team could be forgiven for wondering if they are really in Siberia rather than Coledale!  It has been a week of bitter winds, snow and hail but the work has continued.

To find out more about Force Crag Mine, why not come on one of our open days in 2012 for a guided tour?  The dates will be posted on when they’ve been set.