We have now started work on the riven oak fence on Friars Crag. The oak came from management work in a National Trust woodland in the South Lakes. It is sold to a local firm that rives the timber. Then we buy it back. The timber has probably only travelled 30 miles as the crow flies. This also helps preserve traditional skills.
It isn’t easy to work with riven oak for fencing because nothing is square and it doesn’t come in neat, straight lengths. Cutting the joints can be quite time consuming. It is worth the effort though because it looks more natural in the landscape and also it is much harder wearing than even tanalised softwood. It won’t be long until it looks as though it has been there for years.
Last weekend Kintail Mountain Rescue Team came down to work on some rope-work techniques with us. The various teams regularly share good practice. This time we were working on Steel Knott which is just opposite Castle Crag in Borrowdale. We were practising using a double rope system to evacuate casualties. We have adopted a Canadian system devised by Kirk Mauthner. This is a system that has been designed so that it is possible to cut the rope at any point or to let go of the ropes and it will ‘fail to safe’. It is a system that is safe for both the casualty and the rescuers. Casualties have a smoother, more comfortable experience and knees, hips, backs etc of rescuers are subjected to reduced stress. We did lots of repetitions of vertical lowering and also some guiding line practice – this is where a rope is slung across rough ground so that a stretcher can almost hover across it with a couple of rescuers alongside.
Sadly my dog Reiver has died. She was 13 which is a good age for a golden retriever and she was having a good active life until very recently when time caught up with her. We shared great times on the fells and I’ll miss her. A colleague at work said that if there is such a thing as reincarnation, he would like to come back as my dog. I think this is one of the nicest compliments I've ever been paid.