Latest team news

  • Celebrating the world’s rangers

    07:00 29 July 2016
    By Clair Payne, Craig Hutchinson, Glenn Bailey, Ian Griffiths, John Atkinson, John Moffat, Luke Sherwen, Matthew Allmark, Nick Petrie, Paul Farrington, Paul Kear , Richard Tanner, Rob Clarke, Sam Stalker, Sarah Anderson, Stuart Graham



    This Sunday (31st July) marks a celebration and moment of reflection for the world’s rangers – doing the ‘work that matters’ (Harvey Locke, 2016). Most of us here in the UK and Europe will go home at the end of the day. For some rangers, who work in some of the world's most dangerous protected areas, they put their lives on the line on a daily basis, and sometimes sadly lose that battle. The International Ranger Federation puts together a roll of honour for those that have died since the previous years’ World Ranger Day. This year, that figure hit 107. And these are the figures we know about. Since 2009, 595 rangers have lost their lives in the line of duty.

    Ranger roll of honour - in memory of those that have lost their lives in the course of their work between 2015-16 compiled by Roger Cole of the International Ranger Federation.

    As rangers, we are so lucky to do the work that we do, protecting special places, protecting wildlife (however small) and sharing these special places with the next generation. To have lost so many this year alone is very harrowing. The main causes of death this year were poaching (42%), work related incidents (41%) and by the very animal’s rangers protect (17%) - the majority from the Asian and African regions. Brave men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect wildlife, culture, history and communities.

    Never underestimate the power of what you do and who you are. Because are we not here for the business of saving the Earth, saving rainforests, saving deserts, saving landscapes that we love? And so all of us are doing the exact same mission, chartered with the exact same mission.
    It’s in our blood, it’s in our spirit, it’s in our eyes, it’s in our heart, it’s in our soul. I am a caretaker. I work for you. I work for the public. I work for the future.” Shelton Johnson, Yosemite Park Ranger

    Chris Wood, NT ranger from the North York Moors proudly standing with the world's park rangers

    Let’s show our support for the world’s rangers. Visit the IRF website to print off a copy of this banner, have your photo taken and show your support by sharing on the International Ranger Federation Facebook page or on twitter at thingreenline1 #worldrangerday #standwithrangers #naturesprotectors #thingreenlinefoundation #internationalrangerfederation.

    To UK rangers: If you’re a ranger reading this, remember what may seem like 'just the day job' is actually vital and important in the bigger scheme of things. Think of the world as a ‘terra national park’ – looking from outer space, there are no boundaries, no state borders, no designated national park areas, just one planet. We are all doing our bit to protect it.

    'I want to talk about where home is for all of us. Earth. This is our home. And I want to say this. No one, in the world, is doing more important work than rangers, looking after Earth. The Earth needs rangers. Rangers can lead the charge.' Harvey Locke, conservationist.
     

     Meeting some of the world's rangers at the World Ranger Congress in Estes Park, Colorado, USA in May 2016

    ‘I STAND with  you, and I stand for you, on this day and every World Ranger Day’ – Sean Willmore, President of the International Ranger Federation.

    Think about supporting the work of The Thin Green Line.


  • Partnership working at Millerground.

    15:28 28 July 2016
    By Ben Knipe, Dave Almond, Dave Jackson, James Archer, Neil Winder, Roland Wicksteed

    Millerground is one of the few remaining public access points to the lake on the east shore of Windermere.

    Above, is the large drumlin  known as Queen Adelaide's Hill, which commands spectacular views over the lake with good access to Millerground. Owned by the National Trust, it is free and accessible for everyone to enjoy. 

    Earlier this month the Millerground Enhancement Group met up for a day for a general tidy up and to repair some of the damage caused by Storm Desmond on the Council owned area of Millerground. 
    The group comprising N.T rangers, South Lakeland District Council staff, members of Windermere and Bowness Civic Society and Continental landscape staff set to with a will. 

    Lumps of old concrete, and driftwood were taken away in the power barrows that over the years have proved indispensable for this kind of work.

    An old fire-site was dismantled and removed.

      The solid wood benches, that had been displaced by flood water, were eased back into position.

    Back where it should be.

     An old, unsightly, redundant concrete slab was broken up with a lump hammer and taken away to a skip previously placed in the nearby car-park

    Note the two solid wood benches in the background ready to be re-positioned.

    Part of the path leading from National Trust land onto Council owned land had been washed away and this was repaired using large boulders and infilling behind with gravel.

    The path to the lake shore in the process of being repaired.

    Finishing touches.

    The repaired path.

    A big improvement was made in a relatively short time to the site and is a testament to what can be achieved through community and partnership working.   



  • Accessible Langdale - A day with the Disabled Ramblers

    09:49 23 July 2016
    By Ben Knipe, Dave Almond, Dave Jackson, James Archer, Neil Winder, Roland Wicksteed

    Most of you may think of Stickle barn as a great location to start a days walk whether this is Stickle Tarn,  the Langdale Pikes, Pavey Ark or even Scafell (we suggest the Old Dungeon Ghyll car park for this one). For others it may be rock climbing, ghyll scrambling or mountain biking.


    For some limited mobility restricts these activities but it is still fair to say the Disabled Ramblers proved Langdale is a valley accessible to all. This is something that the National Trust as an organisation are keen to continue to improve.
    While this date had been in the diary well in advance we couldn’t have wished for better weather. Tuesday was possibly the hottest day of summer. It registered 33 degree’s when we got back, and felt even hotter on the Walk!



    The improved cycle route through the Langdale valley lends itself very well to something a little more robust than your average wheelchair and while we decided to only go as far as Elterwater Quarry it would have been possible to continue on all the way to Skelwith.

    The majority of the group were on Trampers, an off road mobility scooter designed specifically for this purpose , powered with an electric battery with a speed of up to eight miles an hour. these are already available to loan to the general public at Tarn Hows and many of the stately homes.


    Once chips were mentioned it became a race all the way back to Stickle barn, where the food comes highly recommended either at the beginning or end of your day.




    The day was a success the disabled ramblers want to make it an annual fixture on their calendar and we hope to work on adding facilities for the disabled.



  • Beatrix Potter's Legacy in the Lakes - video

    07:00 22 July 2016
    By Clair Payne, Craig Hutchinson, Glenn Bailey, Ian Griffiths, John Atkinson, John Moffat, Luke Sherwen, Matthew Allmark, Nick Petrie, Paul Farrington, Paul Kear , Richard Tanner, Rob Clarke, Sam Stalker, Sarah Anderson, Stuart Graham

    There was a lot more to Beatrix Potter than just the famous storybooks. Her legacy and influence extends far beyond these and is still important to the National Trust today. This month we are celebrating her 150th anniversary right across the Lake District and the whole country. 

    Find out more about what she left the National Trust and how we are continuing her work today in this video, produced by Rangers on the South Lakes team. 



    Join in the big birthday celebrations on 28 July at our places across the Lakes...there will be cake! Beatrix Potter 150th Celebrations
  • Fell Care Day

    14:29 19 July 2016
    By Ben Knipe, Dave Almond, Dave Jackson, James Archer, Neil Winder, Roland Wicksteed


    Wednesday the 6th of July 2016 saw the 13th annual Fell Care Day take place in Glenridding. These events have been taking place throughout the Lake District since 20011


    They are run and organised by Friends of the Lake District (https://www.friendsofthelakedistrict.org.uk/fell-care-days). They are ‘Mass volunteering practical conservation and learning events which bring together local communities, school and volunteers from many different walks of life.’


    On the day there was numerous different activities run throughout the valley, from repairing the Gough monument on Helvellyn to dry stone walling at Hartsop.


    Our task was to resurface and maintain the stretch of path from Glencoyne Bay to Glenridding.


    Over time the path has started to grow in and the surface has become less attractive to walk on, which has led to people walking around the worst sections.





    Earlier in the week we had organised our forestry team to drop off a couple of trailer loads of gravel along the path.





    A daunting site for our 8 volunteers.


    The plan was to dig a small trench along the current path to widen it to an appropriate width and then fill with gravel.





    The volunteers soon settled into their roles and the gravel mountain started to disappear.





    I’m always amazed at how much work can get done when there are lots of people helping, and this job was no exception.





    The new path beginning to take shape.


    By the end of the day the volunteers had managed to re-lay almost 150m of path





    A huge thank you has to go to our hard working group, for a fantastic days work.





    As well as our group of volunteers there were a further 15 groups in and around Glenridding completing various tasks.


    Below is a list of work completed on the day.


                 123 volunteers, 15 volunteer leaders and 10 FLD staff.


                 2000 non-native invasive balsam plants pulled at Patterdale.


                 75m of drainage work completed on Tailings Dam, Greenside.


                 25m of drain clearance at Tailings Dam, Greenside.


                 200sqm of grass seeding completed at Greenside.


                 150 tree guards cleared of bracken to support native tree growth.


                 Gough Monument on Helvellyn fully renovated and restored.


                 150 m of the Ullswater Way path at Glencoyne upgraded with 15 tonnes of aggregate.


                 2,500 sqm of invasive Rhododendron cleared at Aira Force.


                 25km of upland paths cleared and maintained at Howtown, Place Fell and Mires Beck.


                 7.5 tonnes of rock cleared from the beck at Horseman’s Bridge, Hartsop.


                 25m of dry stone wall rebuilt at Cow Bridge, Hartsop


                 821 hours of work completed = 117 days


                 More than 300 pieces of cake eaten!


    If you require further information, or just want to take part on a future Fell Care Day take a look at their website (link above).

  • Burning Ambitions at Basecamp!

    16:48 14 July 2016
    By Clair Payne, Craig Hutchinson, Glenn Bailey, Ian Griffiths, John Atkinson, John Moffat, Luke Sherwen, Matthew Allmark, Nick Petrie, Paul Farrington, Paul Kear , Richard Tanner, Rob Clarke, Sam Stalker, Sarah Anderson, Stuart Graham




    Here at High Wray Basecamp we’re continually striving to offer our visiting groups and volunteers a more rewarding and memorable stay. One of the ways that we do this is by looking at our infrastructure and seeing what improvements we can make that will add to people’s experience. What needs modernising? What need’s chucking out?  That’s why we’ve recently installed a new macerator in our Longland dormitory, and a new cistern and flush control system in our Acland block. ‘Oh, the glamorous world of Basecamp!’, I hear you cry.
    Getting started: Footprint for the fire pit laid out and materials on site for the wall.
    But don’t worry, I’m not going to wax lyrical about the waste disposal measures in place here, fascinating though they are. No. I want to tell you all about something far more exciting, something to stir the soul and connect us with our primordial past…I want to tell you about…our new fire pit…

    Outer walls going up: It was a challenge here to marry the appearance of a 'drystone' wall with the strength of a bonded one.
    For many years groups at Basecamp have enjoyed a good camp fire - sitting around late into the evening, telling stories, gazing wistfully into the flames. It’s one of the simplest of life’s pleasures, and a way of reconnecting with the less complicated lives of our ancestors, of eschewing for a moment the capricious frenzy of modern life. It’s part of what Basecamp’s all about.

    Laying the inner firebricks and fireproof screed: These fellas can withstand temperatures in excess of 1350c - that's one hot potato!

    But there’s been a problem. With no formal, defined space in which to have a fire there’s been no limit on their size. Conflagrations have spread over a larger area than perhaps we would have liked, leaving an ugly pile of ash and cinders in the middle of the Basecamp grounds. There’s the additional concern that during dry spells the fire could ignite surrounding vegetation, with potentially disastrous consequences, or that rocks within it could explode, throwing dangerous shrapnel outwards.
    Pointing up the firebricks and slate seating: The holes are for ventilation and drainage.



    And, there’s the issue of dead wood.  If you’re ever fortunate enough to visit forests in remoter parts of the world, out of the reach of human influence, you’ll notice an awful lot of dead wood. This plays an important part in the health and vitality of woods. It’s a home and food source for all sorts of animals, plants, and fungi, and as it rots it replenishes the soil with vital nutrients. Decades of camp fires have stripped the Basecamp grounds of most of its dead wood, leaving a depauperate environment. Of course, we’re not suggesting that we can turn our grounds into a pristine ecosystem, and we certainly don’t want to stop people enjoying a good burn up, but by managing what is used for campfires we’ll hopefully be able to give nature a helping hand and keep Basecamp lovely for future generations.



    Our finished fire pit! We had to have an inaugural burn to cure the fireproof bricks and screed, and bring it slowly up to a working temperature. Here's to many happy future camp fires at Basecamp!



  • Removing Himalayan Balsam - Elterwater

    11:54 13 July 2016
    By Ben Knipe, Dave Almond, Dave Jackson, James Archer, Neil Winder, Roland Wicksteed

    The Langdale team have been busy removing the invasive Himalayan Balsam between Elterwater village and Rob Rash woodland.


    Without intervention this fast growing annual (grows, sets seed and dies in the same year) with pink pea-like flowers, can cover vast areas of land. We try and pull all the Himalayan Balsam plants as one left can produce thousands of seeds. There is around a 3-week period between a flower developing and the seed being viable so by the time we see the pink through the trees, we act fast.



    Due to its location, Elterwater picks up a wide variety of seed washing from the Langdale valley. We had to fight our way through a bamboo jungle to find some of the Himalayan Balsam.


    Himalayan Balsam is especially common on river banks, shading out all other species and becoming a monoculture. When it dies back over the winter it leaves the river banks bare with no roots holding the soil back, leading to erosion and siltation.
     In wet areas they can grow extremely tall – they are hollow stemmed and so full of water some of them we could tip upside-down and pour it out! Here Gareth, head chef at Sticklebarn pub meets his match.


    In this situation Wellies are preferred….



    It is all worth it for this stunning view looking at Elterwater towards Skelwith bridge.


     And definitely worth it for a bit of free cake. Liam (also from Sticklebarn pub) digging in and showcasing one of the larger finds of the day!






  • More footpath repairs on Gowbarrow

    11:04 06 July 2016
    By Ade Mills, Leo Walmsley , Pete Entwistle

    After a years break we have again recommenced our work up on Gowbarrow Fell. During the helicopter lifts we had a few extra bags of gravel flown to site and with help from the Fix the Fells volunteers we've started some more path improvements.

    The photo below shows a section that we'd previously worked on but now, with hindsight, we've decided that part of the path was just too steep. If left this way the gravel would be unlikely to stay in place resulting in people walking off the path and causing damage to the vegetation.

     Old section of path

    We decided to reroute the path to avoid the steepest area and thereby make it more sustainable. The first job was to remove gravel from the original path and dig off the turf where the new path would go.

     Removing the gravel

    The line of the new path went through a deep ditch so much of the soil that was excavated was used to help fill it in. A trench was dug across the original path to drain water away, this also produced plenty of soil and helped form a barrier to discourage people from wandering up the old path.

     Preparing the new path

    Once the new path had been levelled we covered the old path with the turf that had been dug off and gravelled the new path. In just a day the whole area had been transformed.

     Newly aligned path

    On our next volunteer work party we tackled a section a little further down the path. This included lengthening and widening the path and removing a large depression in the path that had been formed by water runoff causing the the path to start washing away.

    Turf was first removed from the upper side and the path was widened into the bank. Next, the lower side of the path was built up, using stone, soil and the turf that had been generated while digging out the bank.

     Starting work to remove the dip

    Once the artificial bank on the lower side was completed the whole area was filled in with gravel to form a level path.

    Newly levelled path
  • Hi from Ben

    09:00 01 July 2016
    By Clair Payne, Craig Hutchinson, Glenn Bailey, Ian Griffiths, John Atkinson, John Moffat, Luke Sherwen, Matthew Allmark, Nick Petrie, Paul Farrington, Paul Kear , Richard Tanner, Rob Clarke, Sam Stalker, Sarah Anderson, Stuart Graham


    Hello There! My name is Ben and I am VERY excited to say that I’ve recently joined the South Lakes upland footpath team. I have a passion for the fells as they’ve been a great source of enjoyment for me and I’m looking forward to contributing to their conservation and maintaining the footpaths whatever the weather.

    For the past 4 years I have been down in sunny Kent working as a ranger for the National Trust in the countryside at Toys Hill and the Chartwell estate. Originally being from Cumbria it’s only natural that I felt the pull of the Lake District and recently moved back north.
    Not a bad day up Grisedale Tarn.
     
    It is exactly one month since I started with the team and what a month it’s been! I’ve had the pleasure of working with Joe, Sarah and Nick, with them I’ve been learning some of the techniques involved in upland path work including rock pitching, Drain building and landscaping. These techniques are all used as ways to encourage the many keen fell wanderers to use the paths and to help us prevent erosion.
    A small section of pitching Joe and I have been working on.



    A view from Helvellyn.

    Between a rock and a......large sheet of ice

    The picture above is the view from the summit of Helvellyn (950m), in the middle is the famous/infamous Striding Edge, to the left is the cove containing Red Tarn, and furthest left Swirral edge. The cove is a fantastic place to sit and have your sandwich and take in the dramatic views. How ever if you happened to be sitting having your sandwich in the same spot 13 – 20,000 years ago you would be knee deep or potentially hundreds of feet deep in a glacier. Red Tarn cove is good example of a ‘glacial cirque’, at the start of an ice age these ‘glacial cirques’ are the locations where glaciers first develop and then spread down through the valleys below where they gouge and deepen the valley floors. When Glaciers retreat they do so back up to the Cirques where they began. Its also worth noting that if/when/how?!/really?? another Ice age were to begin these beautiful mountain tarns would again be the first places to form new glaciers. You have been warned!



    Our fell work season is now in full swing and we will certainly be busy. Over the next few weeks the South Lakes team will be working on projects across the park with the ‘Fix the Fells’ lengthsmen, working holiday groups and the West Lakes footpath team. If you’re out in the Hills and you happen to see us feel free to come and say hi!

     Have  a great summer!
     




  • Rhody Bashing on the west shore of Windermere

    09:00 24 June 2016
    By Clair Payne, Craig Hutchinson, Glenn Bailey, Ian Griffiths, John Atkinson, John Moffat, Luke Sherwen, Matthew Allmark, Nick Petrie, Paul Farrington, Paul Kear , Richard Tanner, Rob Clarke, Sam Stalker, Sarah Anderson, Stuart Graham



    The woodlands of High Furness have had a long history of charcoal production dating back at least to the 13th century. The 17th century saw an increase in demand for charcoal from the Iron Industry and much of the woodland along the west shore of Windermere was managed for its production up to the mid 19th century.

    Charcoal was burned on site in turf mounds situated on charcoal burning platforms or 'pitsteads'.  These were large flat clearings made within the woods, either earthen or stone built. Over 250 of these pitsteads, along with 'collier paths' -  tracks for the transportation of the underwood and charcoal to and from production sites, can still be seen throughout the woods around Claife.

    One such wood, Pate Crag Coppice, was a working coppice from at least the 17th century through to the early early 20th. In the years since its coppice stools have grown into impressive multi-stemmed trees. But the woods have also suffered an invasion of rhododendron which now threaten this historic woodland.

    A non-native invasive species, rhododendron prevents native flora from growing due to its dense evergreen shade. It colonises an area through stem layering and by producing millions of seeds, and is difficult to remove thanks to its 'tenacity of life', making it the bane of conservationists. 

    Much work has been done by the rangers in recent years to remove rhododendron and improve woodland flora and bio-diversity. But the successful eradication of rhododendron requires a programme of managed removal, monitoring and control over a number years - aka Rhody Bashing.
    Rhododendron in Pate Crag Coppice.
    No rhododendron in Pate Crag Coppice.

    As part of Volunteers' Week (1-12 June) a group of 8 members from the South Lakes Volunteer Group joined us on a bright, hot Tuesday morning for a day of Rhody Bashing at Pate Crag Coppice. Led by Richard, our Woodland Ranger, and armed with bow saws, loppers, flapjack and lots of water we set off from the lakeside track over the steep and sometimes slippery terrain of the woods to one of the pitsteads that would serve as our base for the day.

    There are several ways to tackle rhododendron. You can pull up the seedlings by the roots, dry the roots and snap the stem; saw off branches at the base and treat the stump with herbicide; spray the leaves with herbicide where there is no risk of over-spray effecting surrounding flora or contaminating a watercourse; or use mechanical flailing.

    Given our number and the size of the near by rhodies, plus the steepness of the terrain and potential risk of over-spray, our method of choice was to cut and saw the branches down to the stump. We left about a foot standing with a few leaves sticking up to act as a flag. This is to help locate the stump and treat it with herbicide at a later date. The cut branches were then piled up ready to be burned. Yes, just what you need on a hot, sweaty day with no breeze. A fire. Luckily one of our number was an ex-fireman more than happy to get the fire going.

    Volunteer tackling a large rhody stump.

    Rhody stump with 'flag' of leaves.

    In a manner one can only imagine was similar to those who worked these woods for charcoal in years gone by we formed an effective production line from shrub to fire. One or two small groups where based up slope cutting off branches then lobbing or dragging them down slope to the charcoal platform. Another group cut up the pile of branches into smaller manageable stacks while the final group fed and managed the fire. In this fashion we cleared all the rhody sites we hoped to in good time. 

    Where the rhododendron once stood was now an expanse of bare ground. A reminder of just how damaging to the habitat it can be. 

    Bare ground where rhododendron once stood.
    The fire can be seen down slope in the background.
     
    An area of Pate Crag Coppice where the rhody has previously been removed.

    Light gets through and new life grows again.

    ~

    Rhododendron ponticum was present in Britain in previous interglacials but didn't re-colonise here in the post-glacial. Native to parts of southern Europe it was (re)introduced to Britain in 1763 and became abundant throughout the 18th and 19th centuries as an ornamental plant and as game cover. It has now widely naturalised. Particularly on acid soils and in shaded woodland.

    It damages the habitat it invades by dominating the area. It spreads laterally through branch layering creating its dense, impenetrable growth which prevents light from getting to other species. Its leaves and buds contain toxic chemicals making it unpalatable to grazing animals. These chemicals may also act as an inhibitor to the growth of competing species further adding to its domination. Its honey is poisonous to humans and bees. It can be a host for fungal pathogen Phytophthora.

    Where the native flora ceases to be so too do the animals which live off the flora and hence the animals that live of those animals and so on leaving the area virtually barren of all life except the rhododendron. Even in woodland, where trees can exist above its dense shade, no new saplings can seed. So as the existing trees die off only the rhododendron will remain.

    Such tenacity makes eradication costly, labour intensive and time consuming. Even after removing existing growth and treating with herbicides the millions of tiny seeds that are produced each year are easily spread far and wide by the wind making regrowth highly likely. A site needs to to be revisited over successive years to repeatedly control the regrowth before the site can be declared free of rhododendron.

    Yet, despite all this, in its exotic form the bright flowers and twisted branches can look quite spectacular.

    Rhododendron Wood at Leith Hill.

    But back to the bashing...

    ~


    A new day, a new site and a new volunteer group.

    Volunteers from a group formed by the Windermere Reflections project joined us at Wray Castle. Ornamental rhododendron can be seen lining the edge of woodland around the Wray estate, however, invasions further into the woods once again threaten the habitat.

    There's rhody in there somewhere.

    The rhody here were smaller and more dispersed than at Pate Crag. The difficulty, however, was in getting to them through the overgrown ferns and brambles.

    The site had recently seen some rhody bashing and piles of dried branches were lying waiting for us to put them on the fire. Again, luckily, we had a retired fireman amongst us to help manage the fire. This was important as we had no 'ready made' fire site like the charcoal burning platforms. Instead we cleared a suitable area of ferns, with paths to and from the site, where a small controlled fire could be set and managed.

    Piles of branches from previous visit.

    Dragging branches though pathways to the fire.

    Retired fireman Steve managing the fire.
     
    Like the day before the team worked efficiently cutting, treating, dragging and burning, despite the hot weather, until the thunder storm came and we all retreated to the castle for a well earned cup of tea.

    Rain stops play.

    As the rain subsided we returned to tidy up and pile the un-burned branches ready for the next visit.

    Stumps treated with pesticide.
    The blue dye helps identify which stumps have been treated.
     
    Both sites will need to be revisited on several more occasions over the coming years before the work is complete. Such is the ongoing task of Rhody Bashing.

    A huge thanks to all the volunteers from South Lakes Volunteer Group and Windermere Reflections for all their hard work in taking us one step closer to having rhody-free woodland.