Latest team news

  • Wood Pasture Fence at Troutbeck Park Farm.

    09:36 22 March 2015
    By Ben Knipe, Dave Almond, Dave Jackson, James Archer, Neil Winder, Roland Wicksteed

    In partnership with the tenant farmer, the National Trust has embarked on a major long term project to improve the wood pasture at Troutbeck Park Farm.

    The work is grant aided by Natural England through the Higher Level Stewardship scheme.

    Part of the project involves fencing off a section of the 'Troutbeck Tongue.' This area will be grazed by a small number of hardy cattle. Sheep will be excluded, thus allowing wood pasture to regenerate after recent centuries! of over grazing.

    The problem was to get the fencing materials up on to this steep and difficult terrain.

    The Central and East Lakes Rangers and the Fell Rangers worked together to complete this daunting task.

    The first leg of the journey: This is as far as the 'pickup truck' and trailer will go.
    "She'll take no more Captain!"

    The next phase of the journey: The indispensable power barrows loaded up with posts. Dave, James and Steve keeping the barrow level!
    Troutbeck Farm can be seen in the distance at the head of the valley.

    Onwards and upwards. Pete and Ade, Fell Rangers, on the second leg of the journey.

    The power barrows have reached their limit and can go no further.
    Nic and Laura seen here at the start of the last and most punishing leg of the journey.

    This image does not do justice to the steepness of this incline.
    Laura, Leo and Ray making their way up the gradient.

    The U shaped Troutbeck Valley below.

    And on into the mist.

    Wood pastures are of historic and cultural importance. In addition they provide a precious habitat for rare and specialised species that are so dependent on old trees.

    Managing the grazing effectively will bring long term benefits to wildlife and the landscape by ensuring that there will be more veteran trees in the future.

    Below are images of wood pasture from previous posts.

    An ancient Alder at Glenamara Park.
    Image © S.Dowson. Area Ranger, Ullswater.

    Wood Pasture at Glenamara Park.
    Image © S.Dowson.

    A pollarded ash at Troutbeck Park Farm.

    Several related posts are on this Blog....Glenamara Park...Plantations on Ancient Wood Pasture... Trees + Cows = Wood Pasture ...Tree Planting and Pollards in Wood Pasture at Troutbeck Park Farm.

  • A dog with a blog.

    19:25 20 March 2015
    By Roy Henderson

    Hi, it's Daisy here.

    Roy missed me off the blog last week.  He's letting me have the whole blog this week so I am showing you pictures of me being a Ranger dog. Being a Ranger dog is great.

  • Nothing lasts forever.....

    10:00 20 March 2015
    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

    In the South Lakes property we look after millions of trees, most are in our woodland but many are large individual trees scattered across the countryside which make a huge impact on the landscape.

    Sadly nothing lasts forever this is especially true of trees, old age and the weather take their toll.  The weather this winter has seen a double whammy the combination of waterlogged ground and high winds often means we loose a few of our larger trees.

      Large ash tree fallen into the road following a night of high winds.

    Its sad when an especially large tree falls, this was the case at Monk Coniston when one of the largest beech trees fell after a particularly stormy night.

    Beech fallen at Monk Coniston.

    Phil the forester cutting the root plate.

    Gary removing damaged branches from neighbouring trees.

    The tree was 195years old so it would have been familiar to Marshall who created Tarn How while he lived at Monk Coniston.  When trees this size fall they create an enormous amount of mess to tidy up and it's a team effort to get roads and paths cleared quickly and safely.

    One of the challenges we face is how to retain these trees which are often part of famous views or paintings and ensure that there are young trees being planted to grow for the next generations to enjoy.

    Tree planting opposite Hill Top.

    Trees are planted in cages to protect them from browsing animals.  I reckon the cages should last for about 20 years, by then the tree should be established and big enough to look after itself!

    Part of the planting this winter has been to restore the designed landscape around Wray Castle in all 94 trees were planted.  We used a map from 1888 to locate where the trees were missing, sometimes there was an old tree stumps in the field so we planted replacement tree next door.  
    We planted a mixture of oak, beech, sweet chestnut, small leaved lime and sycamore much the same as the Dawson's in the 1840s when they created the Wray Castle estate.

    The footpath team down from the fells tree planting at Wray.

    Cages well on the way to completion.

    For the planting closer to the castle we re-cycled metal tree cages from Knightshayes.  The ground in the lakes must be stonier than the parkland in Devon as we couldn't hammer the metal fixings all the way home which meant some in the field adjustments had to be made!

    Me tightening the last bolt on a metal tree cage. 

    Old and new trees on Epley Head near Wray Castle.

    Richard Tanner
    Woodland Ranger

  • New Rangers on the Block

    17:39 13 March 2015
    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! We are Ted and Abi, new volunteer rangers with the team at Boon Crag. 

    So far we’ve had a variety of work and weather testing our waterproofs to the max, wellies full of water, but soaking up beautiful views too!

    Work goes on, whether fencing or replacing a gate in a deluge – as Ruskin said: “there is no such thing as bad weather, only different types of good weather” (We may have to remind ourselves of that one!!)

    No two days are the same. Abi has been ‘chopping and shifting stuff’ at Claife viewing station. She has yet to get a well-earned brew from the new cafe opening on 28th March!!

    Ted has learnt how to use an angle grinder, the power barrow, and was asked the question ‘how do you shift a tonne and a half boulder?’ Easy: 3 rangers and a lot of grunting.

    And after.
    Before . . .

    We are looking forward to getting stuck in to the full scope of being a Ranger within such a diverse and interesting property.

    …And the most important thing we have learnt is to never be further than 10 meters from your lunch!
  • Wooden Raised Beds at the Footprint.

    08:30 13 March 2015
    By Ben Knipe, Dave Almond, Dave Jackson, James Archer, Neil Winder, Roland Wicksteed

    Recently we have constructed six raised beds near the Footprint, principally for visiting children to plant up and care for in the years to come.

    The raised beds were constructed from (heavyweight!) oak 'sleepers,'
      transported to site by 'power barrow,' having been cut to size with a chain saw.

    The ground has been levelled and construction can begin!

    We disturbed what we think was a cave spider at the base of the wall. It looked intimidating but I think it was harmless and it was carefully relocated!

    The timber was given the 'distressed look!"

    Broken slate and stone was tipped in for drainage prior to adding...

    ...the top soil.

    A gravelled pathway was put in around the beds, being raked out by Ray.

    A raised bed was also put in place along the top of the bund that borders the St. Catherine's/Footprint car park.

    Stepover fruit trees will be planted about 4 feet marked out by the wooden pegs. Holes have already been dug out and filled with compost prior to the trees arrival. Step over trees are single tier espaliers trained to grow between 18" to 2' high, hence their name...stepover.

    In this instance wood that could be 'trained' to follow the
     curvature of the bund was used to good effect.

    The top soil.

    The raised bed is ready and awaiting the trees arrival.
    This post will be updated, with a progress report, once the trees
     and the plants are established.
  • A potpourri.

    18:17 12 March 2015
    By Roy Henderson

    Whilst hunting for a picture recently, I realised just how many I have that you haven't seen. So today I am posting a few from the collection. Hope you enjoy them.

  • 100 working holidays and counting .....

    10:00 06 March 2015
    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

    Working holidays are a great way to get involved with the National Trust’s work and some people return many times to take part in them. Some go that extra mile though and Di Lang is a great example of this. A long standing working holiday leader (the leader is not staff but takes charge or housekeeping, shopping, menus etc), Di led her first holiday here at High Wray back in 2004 and recently returned here to lead her 100th!

    Di (left) on the 100th holiday

    Di has led holidays as diverse as Drystone walling and hedgelaying, woodland management and running events. We’re particularly thankful for her formidable organisational skills and boundless enthusiasm in leading our upland adventure holidays, where participants camp out on the high fells for three nights and work to reduce path erosion in the day.

    ‘I’m from a farming background’ Di says ‘I always used to be out with my Father when I was growing up. My career took me on a different path, running my own flooring business, but one day I noticed a hedge by the side of the road. ‘That’s a well laid hedge’ I thought, then thought ‘that’s my father talking’. So I went to agricultural college and did a few short courses, then looked into conservation holidays and found the National Trust’s Working Holidays and I’ve stuck with them ever since.’

    So what is it about Working Holidays that keeps Di coming back for more? ‘The variety, the places you go to and the people you meet. I love the extra knowledge you learn as I think your brain is still a muscle that needs working. It keeps your body moving as well! I enjoy the social elements too, meeting new people and some of their experiences and backgrounds are amazing. No working holiday is exactly the same either, you may come back to the same Basecamp but the dynamics of the group are completely different.’

    ‘The High camp ones are really special to me and I love footpath laying too. I’m off to do scything this year, because we’ve got a grassland area close to where we live and we want to turn it into a wildflower meadow. It’s new skills again. I’ve discovered I’m not really a gardener though – it’s too tidy!’

    On the fells on a camping holiday
    To cap it all, to mark the 100th holiday Di stayed on a week at the end of it and with the help of ever supportive husband Max brought her flooring skills to bear by replacing our tatty old vinyl floors with a new hard wearing surface. This looks great and should last for years to come

    ‘I sort of think of High Wray as a second home now and when I was here another time I was looking at the floors and thinking I could put a new floor down to make it more attractive for people to come here. You get a pride in your work when you’re doing something like this and it’s nice to think that other working holidays and volunteer groups will get the benefit of this in the future.’

    Di reclines on the newly fitted and very smart floor in the 'Acland' block, with 100th working Holiday presentation picture
    We’re looking forward to many more years of working alongside Di, with another camping holiday scheduled for this May. It’s thanks to the dedication and hard work of leaders like Di (and there are plenty of others too) that the National Trust is able to offer such a varied and interesting working holiday programme, enabling many people to get involved with our work and help us look after our special places for everyone.

    We’ll leave the last word to Di:

    ‘I’ll be carrying on with working holidays as long as I can, I’ve no intention of giving up. I still get excited every year when the new brochure comes out and I’m straight in there looking at where working holidays can take me this year.’

    Rob Clarke, Basecamp Community Ranger

    Find out more about National Trust working holidays here:

  • Despite the weather ... !

    11:12 05 March 2015
    By Roy Henderson

    It was inevitable really that we would have to spend a lot of time in planning the project to lay pipes across to Derwent Island. There will be three pipes on the lake bed. One will supply fresh water; a second will supply LPPG gas and the third will remove waste water. Now that the work is underway, there are clear stages to tackle and we can have a sense of achievement as each is completed.

    Last week we had reached the stage where the three lengths of piping had to be rolled out and hauled across from the lake shore to the island. These are long, heavy and cumbersome to manoeuvre so I was concerned that this was going to be a very difficult stage to complete. In fact, the combined efforts of Trust Rangers from a number of areas and the contractor’s dive team ensured that it all went smoothly. It was a lot of hard work of course but there were no unexpected problems.

    A rope was attached to one end of a pipe and the dive team took the rope across to the island. The dive team positioned a boat about half way across and from then on it was a case of hard graft just hauling and dragging the pipes. It all went incredibly well and definitely proved that many hands do make light work.

    The other big project which has been started by the fell ranger footpath guys is on Castle Crag. They are going to be building a new stretch of stone-built pitch path. This will enable us to take out an old ladder stile that is definitely on its ‘last legs’. It will make it much easier and safer for people to access the area. It will also mean that long-term maintenance should be easier to carry out. 

    That’s another job that’s going to require a lot of hard physical work but it is a beautiful place to be working if the weather is good. They’ve been a bit unlucky so far with the weather and have been working through some pretty cold, wintry showers. But, hats off to them, they have carried on regardless.

    Daisy here:

    We’ve been up Castle Crag.  It was great. I could hear peregrines. I didn’t know what they were but Roy said they were peregrines.
  • Replacing step stiles & laying a hedge.

    14:08 02 March 2015
    By Ade Mills, Leo Walmsley , Pete Entwistle

    Over the last few weeks we've continued our estate work around Langdale valley. Our first job was to lay a section of hedge next to the road near Loughrigg Tarn.

    Hedge ready to be laid 

    The hedge was predominantly Beech and contained a few trees that had been previously laid before. Some of the trees were over 15cm diameter, making it extra difficult to lay with just billhooks and pruning saws.

    Laying the hedge

    As the hedge was planted sometime ago, some of the hedge plants had already died off, which left several gaps in the hedge. Fortunately the hedge didn't need to be stock proof, otherwise we would have been better coppicing the Beech and planting some additional saplings. The main function of this hedge is to provide some extra habitat for nesting birds. When laying the hedge we managed to fill in most of the gaps but we'll reassess it over the year and perhaps add a few more saplings if required, either way it'll provide some nice nesting habitat for a variety of bird species.

    Section of newly laid hedge

    Our next job was to replace a couple of old step-stiles behind the back of the National Trust campsite in Great Langdale.

     Old step stile

    When possible, we prefer to replace step-stiles with kissing gates as they are a bit more user friendly for people, but in this instance the farmer who grazes the land had requested that the ladder-stiles were replaced as it stops the risk of the gate being stuck open and sheep getting into the neighbouring field.

     Starting work on the new stile

    We removed the old stile and had to work quickly as it was tricky getting over the wall with no stile in place. Luckily it was fairly quiet and we managed to help the few passing walkers over the wall. 

    New treads in position 

    Once we had the treads in position the pressure was off as it was at least possible to get over the wall.

    The finished stile 

    The final job was to add the platform to the top and the stile was complete. While working on the second step-stile a little further along the path a walker came by and told us he rated our first stile as "7 out of 10". We thought this a little harsh and were tempted to walk back to the stile with him, armed with a spirit-level and tape measure, and find out where we had dropped points. He obviously hadn't appreciated the accuracy down to just a few millimetres, or the perfect spacing between the treads on the platform, or the fact that that each tread was pretty much bang-on level! Needless to say we just smiled and let him get on his way. So if you happen to be out walking the path and use the new stiles (and rate them 9 or above) please do get in touch, we'd love to hear from you.
  • Maintenance and renewal.

    16:38 27 February 2015
    By Roy Henderson

    Many people who are familiar with the work of the National Trust don’t realise that it is a charity and has to raise funding for all that it does. Some of that comes from membership fees, some from bequests and some from admission fees to properties. But there are other ways to do it including finding sponsors who want to support the Trust’s work. So we have fund-raisers who specialise in finding and matching sponsors to projects. The fund-raiser for my area is Liz Guest and she visited for a day recently to take a look at what projects might be appealing to sponsors.

    We had a drive around the area looking at potential sponsorship opportunities. We have several memorial seats in the valley that are beginning to look slightly ‘tired’ and it would be good to replace those. Initially Liz will contact the families of the original donors if possible to see if they want to support them. If for any reason they can’t, a wider audience will be given the opportunity to ‘adopt’ one.

    When we were at the top of Castlehead we found a family sitting on the seat up there. We explained what we were doing and they told us that they got engaged sitting there so it was a very special seat for them. They could see that it was more than past its best but even so they wanted to have it and they offered £100 which is a fantastic contribution towards our work in the valley.

    We will have several that will be offered widely for sponsorship. I’ll let you know on the blog when they become available. We just can’t do all that we do without donations and sponsorship. We recently received a donation to be used in the Surprise View area. This will go towards helping us to improve access for everyone including wheelchair users. We also intend to carefully and sensitively install another seat. We do make good use of all the donations and sponsorship we receive and are always aware of our responsibility to the many generous givers. A huge thank you to you all.

    Elsewhere in the week, routine maintenance continued and I spent a day with a chainsaw cutting back branches that were overhanging a fence line on Crow Park. There’s always plenty of work like that to be done.

    Daisy here: Roy always makes me stay well back when he is using a chainsaw.