Latest team news

  • Ranger Team Day at Millerground.

    16:00 22 October 2014
    By Ben Knipe, Dave Almond, Dave Jackson, James Archer, Neil Winder, Roland Wicksteed

    As mentioned in previous posts, sections of the Millerground footpath... on the extremely popular woodland walk along Windermere's eastern shore...are at risk of being seriously undermined when lake levels rise.

    To combat this...stone revetment work by rangers and volunteers has been taking place in vulnerable areas.

    It was felt that one bad area in particular needed many hands to help make a big task a lot less daunting; so Rangers, based at St. Catherine's Windermere, arranged a "Team Day" with the Fell Rangers, Rangers from Langdale and from Ullswater to assist with the work.

    It can be seen how the ground has sagged, the bank having been undercut and the soft sub soil washed away.
    A small sycamore, that had collapsed along with the undercut bank, needed to be felled and removed prior to continuing the stone revetment work.
    Revetment work proceeding with Fell Rangers, Leo and Ade and Langdale Ranger, Laura. Stone and rubble in the right of the image is being used to fill a void created by a fallen beech tree.
    The cavity that was created behind the uplifted rootplate after the tree fell is very close to the footpath, hence the guard fence. Once the hole was filled and levelled the fence could be removed.
    Stone being brought in by power barrow by Dave, Ullswater Ranger, and Ray, Windermere Ranger.
    Many tons of stone were needed. These power barrows have proven to be invaluable on difficult sites.
    Pitching up the slope where the sycamore once was.
    Looking good.
    Another section of path made safe. The angle of the revetment is designed to dissipate the strength of the waves when water levels are high.
    Putting in the new path edging stones. Where did you get that hat!?
    Newly landscaped area above the fallen beech tree. It is healthy enough inspite of its prone position as it still has a good root system. Interestingly reed beds are becoming established in the shelter of this fallen tree!
    What kind of a Team Day would it be without a barbeque? Steve from Ullswater keeping an expert eye on the sausages and burgers.

  • The 'Find the Casualty' Game

    15:19 19 October 2014
    By Roy Henderson

    I had a new experience last weekend when I went across to Red Screes at Kirkstone Pass to watch Jan and Daisy training for Daisy to be a search dog.  It’s the first training session I’ve been to.  Until now I have deliberately stayed away so that Daisy would not be distracted by my presence.

    Watching them both work was really interesting.  Daisy covers big distances incredibly well and is very good at finding the ‘casualties’.  She doesn’t always tell Jan that she has found the casualty though so the next training step is to make sure that she goes back and barks for Jan.  At the moment she finds one casualty and then tends to move straight on to look for more but she should always return to Jan as soon as she has found somebody.

    It was obvious that both Jan and Daisy are enjoying the training and I was delighted to see just how much progress they have made in only a few months.  I also enjoyed meeting members of some of the other rescue teams.

    We had gone over there with our camping van intending to stay overnight in the Ullswater area.  We found that the camping sites were all very busy with people who are taking the opportunity to see the autumn colours.  It’s good to know that so many people are appreciating the Lakes in all their moods.  It looks good even on wet days but when it is sunny with broken cloud, it looks spectacular.  It really is worth a weekend visit if you have the opportunity but don’t forget your camera!

    Daisy here,

    Roy came to watch me train.  I was brilliant.  I found everybody really quickly.  It’s not my fault that Jan can’t smell them.
  • 20 tons of stone and plastic carrots

    09:00 17 October 2014
    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

    It’s often striking how varied a National Trust ranger’s job can be. For proof of this you need look no further than some of the entries on this blog that cover subjects as diverse as working with volunteers on mountain paths (3rd October) to spending a few days in Manchester city centre (8th August), building storage compounds for tender boats on Windermere (25th July) to researching mysterious natural phenomena (27th June).

    A recent couple of days spent editing video footage highlighted this too. Back in May I filmed a great (if noisy) day working with Littledale Hall therapeutic community moving 20 tons of stone 400 metres uphill as part of the Claife Station project, but hadn’t had the chance since then to put it together into a short film.

    However, a few weeks ago I was given the chance to film the opening of the new ‘Peter Rabbit adventure’ rooms at Wray Castle. Being new it was much more important to get this film completed as quick as possible, so I set aside a few days to do so and at the same time managed to complete the Claife Station one. Very pleasing!

    You can see both of the films here:

    Watching them back was what got me thinking not just about the variety of a ranger’s role, but of the amazing contrast between the different people the National Trust can be involved with. These two groups couldn’t have been less like each other; adults taking back control of their lives after struggling with substance abuse problems and primary school children excited to be entering the world of their Cbeebies heroes. Despite their differences it was brilliant to see how much they both got out of their days with us. Try as I might I can think of few organisations that can boast this broad a spread of appeal – makes you proud to be a ranger!

    If you fancy checking out both Claife station and Wray Castle then they’re handily at either end of a lovely lakeshore walk. To refer back to the blog again, the entry from 30th May has a description of this. Do bear in mind though that from 2nd November the castle is only open Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

    By Rob Clarke, Basecamp community ranger
  • Another year of repairing the path on Gowbarrow

    11:32 16 October 2014
    By Ade Mills, Leo Walmsley , Pete Entwistle

    Throughout the year we've been working up on the path at Gowbarrow, in Ullswater. This is the second year that we've been working on this site and once again we've been joined by numerous volunteer groups.

    Starting to dig off the turf

    The Field Studies Council joined us again this year with a school group from Ripponden. The group got stuck right in with cutting turf and resurfacing the path.

    The group hard at work

    Coming back for a second year also gave the teachers a good opportunity to see how last years work had started to bed-in and blend in more with it's surroundings.

    We were also assisted by other members of National Trust staff from around the property.

    National Trust staff clear a route through the bracken

    This helped give staff who work in different areas of the property a better idea of some of the work that we do, and also gave them the opportunity to try something a bit different to their usual jobs.

    Freshly gravelled path

    We also held monthly work parties for the Fix the Fells volunteers.

    Starting landscaping the path

    These monthly work parties have really helped push the project along over the last two years and a special thanks has to go out to the Fix the Fells volunteers.

    Newly landscaped path

    The Fell Rangers from the North Lakes have also regularly helped us out.

    Two of the North Lakes team start on some landscaping

    Since the North Lakes team was newly created this year, it gave them a good opportunity to get involved in a different type of project and helped them learn a few different techniques.

    Completed landscaping

    For the second consecutive year we also held our National Trust working holiday up on Gowbarrow.

    Before starting work with the working holiday

    Four volunteers from last years holiday returned, along with several new volunteers.

    Digging off the path

    We continued the section of path that we'd repaired with them last year, and extended it right to the summit.

    The resurfaced path

    Once again a huge thanks to all the volunteers who have helped us over the last two years, as without this help we couldn't have achieved so much. It's been great meeting you all, and perhaps we'll see some of you again in the not too distant future.

    The Working Holiday on Gowbarrow

  • Apple Day.

    15:14 13 October 2014
    By Ben Knipe, Dave Almond, Dave Jackson, James Archer, Neil Winder, Roland Wicksteed

    "Apple Day" at Acorn Bank, Temple Sowerby is an annual event that began in 1994. Over the years its popularity has grown to the extent that yesterday, Sunday the 12th of October, more than 2,500 people came along to enjoy all that Apple Day has to offer!

     Acorn Bank and South East Lakes and Morecambe Bay staff put on and run the event with assistance from National Trust properties throughout the North West.

    Staff  from Central and East Lakes were involved mainly with marshalling the car parking and running the Apple Shy. 

    This was a view from Kirkstone Pass on the way to Acorn Bank on Sunday morning.

    Looked like a glorious day was on the way!

    A big area of parkland, but it soon filled up with cars.



    The Apple Shy.


    Punch and Judy.


    Longest Apple Peel Competition.

    Bill and Abigail, National Trust Recruiters, Central and East Lakes.

    Acorn Bank.

    More images from Apple Day.

    A great event made even more special by the beautiful autumnal

  • A special day

    18:42 10 October 2014
    By Roy Henderson

    One day last week began as a routine walk for Daisy and me along the western shore of Derwentwater to survey the condition of gates, fences, paths, culverts etc.  It has always been one of our favourite walks but everything was just right and this time it was a fantastic day.

    These are regular checks that we carry out so that we can make repairs before major problems arise.  Mostly we are dealing with wear and tear rather than vandalism.  This time I have noted a few gates needing some attention, a bridge that needs repair, some fencing that needs to be replaced and some culverts that will need some maintenance. So our ranger repair team now can direct their efforts most effectively.

    Whilst we were out doing that, by coincidence, we came across a school group I had worked with before.  There was lots of happy excitement as they called for Daisy and had a run around playing with her.

    It was a fantastic day but I suspect it will have been one of the last days of summer.  We are now expecting rain.  I am hoping it will begin slowly and soak the ground before the real downpours arrive.  The ground is so dry at present that heavy rain will just run off the surface and might cause quite a lot of damage to footpaths.  All we can do is wait and see what happens!

    Daisy here:

    I’ve been running around the lake shore.  It was great.  I met kids that I know and played with them in the woods.  And then I learned all about how you mustn’t chase geese or swans.  You can just stand and look at them as long as you are careful.

  • Story of a Shed

    09:00 10 October 2014
    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

    Perhaps you have unexpectedly seen a shed somewhere in the Lake District fells?
    This blog, from the South Lakes Upland Ranger team, explains why you might see one and outlines the story so far of one such shed.

    As an Upland Ranger team we spend much of the year up in the fells working on footpaths to protect them from erosion as part of Fix the Fells. This can mean working on the same path for several months in all weathers and some shelter and storage space comes in very handy.
    A shed has become the shelter of choice for this upland footpath team.

    This year we have had a shed on the Red Tarn to Crinkle Crags footpath, a joint project with the West Lakes Upland Ranger team. It is fair to say that this shed has been around the block a bit having been previously used in a few locations. It started out life lower down on this path and before returning has been to other locations including Pike o' Blisco and Crinkle Crags.

    (Fred the) Shed in an earlier location: on Pike o' Blisco
    The sheds we use are (usually) moved between sites by helicopter.  The shed is flat packed and flown to location at the same time as rock for the year's projects is moved.
    This year it didn't go smoothly and due to weather conditions and priorities we didn't actually get a shed in place during the main helicopter lifts. However a few months into the project a helicopter was in the area for another job and we jumped at the chance to finally get it moved.
    "The Shed has Landed"
    (Not a bad backdrop too !)
    Once the shed was in place the next job was to re-assemble it. There were some concerns that this shed had seen better days and may be partly rotten having spent three years on Crinkle Crags since its last use. We also had some fun trying to find suitable bolts and screws to fix it together and selecting the correct size nuts for the bolts!
    Construction in progress.
    Weather holding up nicely.

    Finishing touches, tethering the shed down.
    Weather has taken a turn for the worse.
    We needn't have worried about the condition of the shed and it went together nicely.
    The weather was also kind to us and held out for almost all of the construction process.

    "Bijou": First lunch inside
    The shed was built in time for a three day party on this project with the Fix the Fells volunteer lengthsmen.  It proved worthwhile too as we had some poor weather, consistent with our previous work parties. Some volunteers however seemed reluctant to use it as it would have been difficult to fit everyone in and instead sheltered in front of it.

    Some volunteers were too polite to use the shed at lunch time

    "Supervisor" Hamish was less reluctant to use the shed
    We have almost finished work for this year on the the Red Tarn to Crinkle Crags path and very soon it will be time to take the shed down and flat pack it. We have more work on this project next year and plan to construct it again next spring.
    Perhaps this shed will makes its home in a new location in 2016 or will it be time to retire it from active service..... ?

    If you would like to know more about the daily work of the South Lakes Upland Ranger team they can be found on Twitter @NTLakesFells.

    Posted by: Nick, Upland Ranger
  • Essential Equipment

    09:14 08 October 2014
    By Ivan Corlett

    This week on Gondola I was aware that I had a problem in the engine room, but I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

    Engine room

    There was enough fuel in the firebox.


    Steam pressure looked good.

    Pressure gauges

    I’d oiled everything that needed oiling.

    Oil can

    And then I realised what the problem was. You can probably spot it in the next picture.

    Tea in the engine room

    That’s correct, I’d forgotten to drink my tea!

    It’s important to keep the engineer fuelled as well as the engine you know.

  • Windermere Temperature Inversion.

    07:23 06 October 2014
    By Ben Knipe, Dave Almond, Dave Jackson, James Archer, Neil Winder, Roland Wicksteed

    Spectacular temperature inversions are particularly likely to form over valleys with large bodies of water.

    The image below, taken at 8 a.m on October 2nd from St. Catherine's, shows a temperature/cloud inversion over Windermere, England's largest lake.

    These inversions usually occur on still, quiet nights prompting cold dense air to sink down, displacing warmer less dense air, hence the term..inversion.

    The effect of the surface cooling down produces condensation in the air above and low clouds form.

    A closer view of the cloud cover above the lake, still trapped by the warmer air above that acts like a lid!

    Long cold and still nights not only cause temperature inversions, they are also ideal for the formation of ground frosts.

    By 8.15 a.m heat from the rising Sun and a strengthening breeze has dispersed most of the low cloud and the ground frost has all but gone.

    This image, taken at 8.30 a.m from the Grove Farm near Common Wood, shows the last traces of the inversion over Windermere below Claife Heights.

    This image, taken at 1 pm, is an attempt to show how clear the air is after the inversion has lifted. Perhaps a better camera was needed to show the breathtaking clarity of the Langdale Pikes, but hopefully this will give some indication!

    Inversions and ground frosts typically occur in Autumn; the exceptional "Indian Summer" enjoyed by so many in the Lake District must be nearly over!
  • Holiday in the Hills

    09:00 03 October 2014
    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 week the blog comes from the South Lakes Upland Ranger team.
    A Holiday in the Hills probably sounds like a lovely idea, however it is worth noting that this holiday involved 5 days of Upland Footpath work. (Perhaps not everyone's idea of lovely.)
    The first working day was a Sunday, the participants having arrived the day before and settled into the bunkhouse at High Wray.  As an introduction to footpath work we took the group on a "drain run". This involves checking an existing footpath route emptying the drains and clearing loose stone from any "stone pitched" sections of path.
    The group, including one from Australia and one from Belgium, got stuck into this task and did a thorough job. Unfortunately it was quite a harsh introdution as the weather was not kind with wind and icy rain throughout the day. Although it was a good time to see how the drainage was working.

    Grim introduction: A drain run on a cold wet & windy day
    After a grim first day we wondered if everyone would return on the Monday as very occasionally participants make an early exit. We needn't have worried as everyone was back bright and early to meet us at the Three Shires Stone on the Wrynose Pass. The group also brought with them much nicer weather.
    Early morning warm up by the Three Shires Stone
    (Much nicer weather too)
    The work for the next two days was on one of the team's main projects for the year, the footpath from Red Tarn to Crinkle Crags.  The group worked on a part where people were spreading out and a widening erosion scar was developing. The plan was to use landscaping techniques to remove any side routes and create a tighter more manageable path line.

    Before: Path widening and erosion scar developing 
    The landscaping approach used is sometime referred to as "hump & hollow". It involves stripping turf and re-shaping the ground next to the path into humps and hollows.  The idea is to make this area unattractive to walk on so that people don't want to spread out. Once we are happy that the shapes of the humps and hollows are fairly natural looking the turf that was stripped off is re-laid. In addition grass seed (specially mixed for the fells) is used on any bare patches so the landscaping will green over and blend into the fellside.

    During: Group working to remove side routes

    After: Section of "hump & hollow" landscaping complete  
    After a well earned rest day it was a time for a change of scenery and also a change of task. The location was the Tongue Gill path, part of the very popular Coast to Coast route. The work was to build a section of stone path using large rocks that had been lifted to site by helicopter. This type of stone stepped path is known as "stone pitching".
    The rock used has an interesting background as it came out of the ground lower down Tongue Gill during excavations for a  hydroelectric power scheme completed this year. The owner of the scheme generously donated the rock to Fix the Fells .

    Group get cracking building "Stone Pitching" on the Tongue Gill path

    Eight happy volunteers with their completed sections of Stone Pitching
    It was a very enjoyable and productive working holiday with lots of good quality work completed !

    The National Trust runs a range of Working Holidays all around the country.  An opportunity for like minded people to meet, have a holiday and carry out conservation work with experienced staff.  The costs are fairly modest and cover accommodation in a bunkhouse, food during the holiday and transport between the bunkhouse and work site.  More information on working holidays can be found using the following link: Working Holidays

    If you would like to know more about the daily work of the South Lakes Upland Ranger team they can be found on Twitter @NTLakesFells.

    Posted by: Nick, Upland Ranger