Friday, 21 December 2012

Reflections and thanks.

So once again it is the time of year to reflect on what we have done.  This is when I realise just how much has been achieved.

For the Trust, hundreds of metres of hedges have been laid; a new post and rail fence has been installed on Friars Crag and old fences and stiles have been repaired and maintained.  A stretch of access-for-all lake-side footpath has been resurfaced.  On-going work has been carried out at Force Crag mine – the data from the drilling rig in January will inform the development of that project.  Areas around Castlerigg Stone Circle have been re-turfed.  

As part of the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations I took part in building a bonfire on Crow Park and a beacon on Cat Bells.  

We also carried out an archaeological type of dig to locate old drainage systems in Cockshot Wood.  I’ve been involved in activities like the wild swimming event, leading mountain navigation sessions, woodland walks and talks plus the Easter egg trail. All of this has taken place against a backdrop of routine maintenance of any aspect of the Borrowdale area.

Taking our Wellchild visitors over to the island.
Overall, a huge amount of work as been done, including the nicest bits where we encourage people to come and enjoy an area of the country that I love.

Outside of work, I’ve had climbing trips to the Cairngorms and Skye; I’ve cycled in the Netherlands and Germany; I’ve cycled the Coast to Coast route twice (the second time without falling off!) and  I’ve been involved with the Mountain Rescue Team in the rescue of a number of people and some sheep.

And it just would not have been possible to do all this without the help of hundreds of volunteers especially those of my regular team who turn out weekly in all weather and work with great commitment and unfailing humour.  I also want to mention my volunteer who makes weekly appearances to help out with my office work.  Huge thanks are due to each of them.


Friday, 14 December 2012

A finished fencing project.

We have finally finished all the new post and rail fencing on Friars Crag and once again I was with my volunteers who have done another sterling job. 

A well-earned rest!
The fence is already beginning to weather and blend into its surroundings.  Friars Crag is one of those places where you often have unexpected encounters.  This time it was Simon Jenkins, the Chair of the National Trust who was visiting while we were working on the fence.  It was good for the volunteers and for me to receive positive feedback from him.

I’ve now started work on a new project with a group of people who use Stoney Croft Gill for scrambling activities. We are working towards a voluntary code of conduct for gill scrambling.  At one of the twice yearly meetings with the Borrowdale User Group and the Mountain Liaison Group, we met on site with a number of instructors and also Jamie Lund the Trust’s archaeologist.  There were fifteen of us in total who all want to move in the same direction.

This is an initiative that is being steered by me and Pete Baron a National Park Ranger.  We will be consulting with appropriate advisers and experts when necessary.  The outcome should be a guide and code of conduct that will allow sustainable use of the Gill by local businesses and will also minimise environmental damage.

The instructors from the activity centres will be able to work within a code of conduct that they have helped to draw up.  They will also be able to disseminate the code amongst other like-minded users.  Above all, we should have a code of use that will sustain both the activities and the environment in the long term.  Sustainable use of the outdoors is always a search for the best balance between human activities and the natural environment so collaborative meetings like these are invaluable

Monday, 10 December 2012

Frosts and snow.

This week I’ve made two school visits.  The first was to Borrowdale school to discuss their plan to adopt Watendlath orchard as part of the Trust’s Guardianship scheme.  The second was into Threlkeld school where they are planning to use Polar Exploration as a theme.    As part of that we are going to be doing a number of days out and about so there will be more on the blog eventually.  These organised visits with Trust rangers are meant to encourage children of all ages to have fun as they learn about nature and hopefully develop a life-long love of their environment. 

Hedge-laying at High Snab Farm is still ongoing – my volunteers are becoming very skilled at that and we are making great progress.  The work on the Friars Crag riven oak fencing is also making good progress.

It won’t surprise you to read that we have had huge amounts of rain here recently.  Although that it is not unusual for the Lakes, John Malley and I had to go up to Force Crag to slightly realign the flume so that it is still in the best position to divert excess water.

Winter is now setting in and we have had some hard frosts and significant snow-falls at higher levels.  The skiers are finding plenty to keep them happy.  On clear days it is all looking magical.

Friday, 30 November 2012

Rain, mud and more rain!

Last week we continued work on the Seatoller car park.  I initially went down there with two NT staff and a tractor intending to resurface it with dirt scree but the weather was so atrocious that it was just turning into mud porridge. Seatoller happens to be situated in the wettest area of England! There was no point in continuing when it was becoming so waterlogged so we abandoned the job about half way through.

Once again my fantastic team of volunteers stepped in so I went back with them at the weekend and we did the job by hand.  We moved and spread 16 tons of quarry waste (dirt scree or ‘25 to 1’).

Despite the dreary, wet weather we have been having, I also managed to do some work on the winter’s hedging programme.  I was up at High Snab Farm with Joe (another ranger) and we made a good start by stripping out a section and beginning to lay it.  All being well, I’ll be back there next week with my volunteers to continue it.

I’ve also had to clear another abandoned camp site.  It is just a tiny minority who do this and spoil things for others.  It does have to be cleared up though.  It’s a stunning area that we want people to come and enjoy and it’s difficult to understand why anyone would leave behind such a mess.

On a more positive note, I was out on a call with the Mountain Rescue Team.  The air ambulance dropped off a paramedic and then flew a few of the rescue team up to Sharp Edge.  We roped down to the casualty and lowered the paramedic to the site. 

We then secured the casualty and the Sea King helicopter came in and winched from the scene. 

Thanks to Scott Henderson for this photo.
Thankfully, the outcome is good and the casualty is going to make a full recovery. There were a number of agencies involved and it all went like clockwork.   

Friday, 23 November 2012

Crow bars and cannulas!

The Bolt.

It’s been another busy week.  At work I’ve been out with volunteers and we have taken down the large picture frame that was on Crow Park overlooking Derwentwater.  It is now in storage and we hope to give it a new site next spring.  It has been a hugely successful installation and we have had lots of positive feed-back.  We took the opportunity to do what so many visitors have done this year and our volunteers had their images framed against a stunning backdrop.
The Mo
Also with the help of volunteers, the winter programme of car park maintenance is underway and we have been realigning the boulders that mark out one car park ready for resurfacing. We will then be marking parking bays to help visitors make the best use of the available space.

I then took a few days leave and tied them to a weekend so that I could do a First Aid course with the Mountain Rescue Team.  It was one of the best courses I have ever done.  

Dr Paddy demonstrates ...

... and then my turn to practise suturing belly pork!
The course leader was doctor Paddy from WMT who taught us lots of techniques e.g. cannulation   for IV access, suturing and appropriate use of drugs.  It was a course designed for advanced first aiders and for expedition medicine.