Latest team news

  • Helicopter lifts and starting work at Hole in the Wall

    12:27 15 May 2017
    By Ade Mills, Leo Walmsley , Pete Entwistle

    With just a few days left to spare before the helicopter lifts, we managed to fill the last of the 325 heli-bags with stone that we need for this years upland path repairs. This gave us enough time to put out the warning signs and make sure we were fully prepared.

    The first lift, over in Ullswater, was the larger of the two jobs. The bags were flown straight across Grisedale valley to the path leading up to Hole in the Wall. Although the weather conditions were tricky due to the constantly changing wind direction, we managed to get all 260 bags over to the work site in three days.

     Moving the stone to site

    The next week we started work on the path. The first job was to unload just over half of the bags and move the stones a few metres down the path to exactly where the path would start.

    Moving the rock into position

    After a couple of days we had the bags emptied and the stone where we wanted it.

    The emptied bags

    With the bags emptied it was time to start building the path. We've recently been joined by a new team member, Jonny, who previously worked for the National Trust in North Yorkshire. Since he's never done stone pitching before, Pete gave him some one on one tuition for a couple of days to help bring him up to speed. After being taught the basics of what to do, it'll be just a matter of lots (and lots...) of practice and the rest of the team being on hand for when any help or advice is needed.

    Jonny starting to get to grips with stone pitching

    After a few days of working up at Hole in the Wall, it was time to get the rock moved for the path repairs on Stone Arthur. With perfect weather conditions we managed to get all 65 bags moved to position in less than five hours. We'll be starting the repair work on Stone Arthur late summer/early autumn time.

    Moving the bags on Stone Arthur
  • New Arrivals at High Lickbarrow.

    15:30 10 May 2017
    By Ben Knipe, Dave Almond, Dave Jackson, James Archer, Neil Winder, Roland Wicksteed

    The late Michael Bottomly bequeathed High Lickbarrow Farm near Windermere to the National Trust in 2015. It has 50 h of 'unimproved' land grazed by cattle only. Much of the land is designated as a Site of  Special Scientific Interest, (SSSI) as wild flowers grow abundantly under this regime and the herb rich grass lands attract a plethora of insects, butterflies and birds.
    One of the steeper fields is red to purple hued in Summer owing to the sheer numbers of betony growing there. 
    (See above with bumblebee in attendance)
    The farm is home to a herd of rare cattle...The Scoutbeck Herd... known as Albion*.

      White Dairy Shorthorn, Welsh Black, and British Fresian cattle are thought to have been used in the original breeding of the Blue Albion in Staffordshire and Derbyshire.

    The breed became official in 1921 when The Blue Albion Cattle Society was formed.

    Tragically the foot and mouth epidemic of 1967 led to the extinction of the Blue Albion breed owing to a Nationwide culling programme to get the disease under control.

    Since then attempts have been made to reconstitute the breed, now known simply as Albion*. The Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) are being petitioned to classify Albion cattle as a rare breed. This will ensure their status as critically endangered and will lend support for their future as a bona fide breed.
    This Albion heifer was born at High Lickbarrow on the evening of the 9th of May so in this image she is barely a day old! She has the distinction of being  first in the line for the new herd mark that now exists for the National Trust making her number *****01!
    This heifer was born shortly after and  so was beaten by a short head by number*****01 making her the second in the line with the number *****02!
    Here she is being kept an eye on by her protective mum!

    Another  fifteen calves are expected to arrive within the next few days!
  • New gates for Cockshott.

    15:28 20 April 2017
    By Ben Knipe, Dave Almond, Dave Jackson, James Archer, Neil Winder, Roland Wicksteed

    Cockshott Point, at the southern end of Bowness-on-Windermere is an extremely popular lake-side walk along the east side of Windermere, overlooking Claife Heights and Belle Isle.
    The old gates, giving access to Cockshott...above and below, are inadequate for some modern mobility scooters
    To allow better access for mobility scooters the old gates have recently been removed and replaced by purpose built mobility access gates.....
    Getting started at the southern end of Cockshott after dismantling and removing the old gates and railings.
    Concreting the gate post in.
     To the left a trench has been dug to allow the mobility access gate to be installed next to the new vehicular access gate.
    A close up of the self closing mechanism for the mobility access gate.
    The new gates. The 10' gate is locked and is only to be used by vehicles requiring access for events on Cockshott or for maintenance purposes.
    Work starting at the northern entrance.
    Digging out for the framework of the mobility access gate.
    The new gates and the recently resurfaced path have contributed towards making a big improvement at Cockshott.

    Below are some views from Cockshott Point now more easily accessible for everyone.
    A view of the Belle Isle Round House from Cockshott Point.
    Belle Isle with Claife Heights in the background. This wooded              area is renowned  for its variety of native tree species.             
          Looking north towards the Troutbeck Fells.
    An elegant steam yacht from a bygone era.
  • Getting ready for for the helicopter lifts

    10:57 07 April 2017
    By Ade Mills, Leo Walmsley , Pete Entwistle

    It's that time of year again when we start getting ready for another season of repairing upland footpaths.

    This year we're working on two paths that were damaged during the Storm Desmond floods in 2015. The larger of the two projects is at Hole in the Wall overlooking Grisedale valley, for this job we've been filling 260 bags with rock that we'll use for stone pitching and drainage work. The rock has been gathered on the opposite side of the valley and will be flown by helicopter to site.

    Bagging rock in Grisedale

    Our second job is on the path leading up to Stone Arthur, just outside Grasmere. This will require an additional 65 bags of stone that will be gathered around Greenhead Gill.

    The helicopter lifts are due to take place at Hole in the Wall on 26th and 27th April and at Stone Arthur on 28th April, but there's a chance this will change particularly if the weather isn't suitable for flying. The paths will remain open during the heli-lifts but there is a possibility of delays, if you're in the area please take advice from the onsite marshals.
  • Rebuilding a collapsed retaining wall at Townend farm.

    13:29 23 March 2017
    By Ben Knipe, Dave Almond, Dave Jackson, James Archer, Neil Winder, Roland Wicksteed

    This partially collapsed retaining wall forms part of the boundary for the farm yard at Townend Farm across the road from Townend in the village of Troutbeck. 
    A tanker backs in here periodically to empty the septic tank that serves the historic yeoman farmer's house Townend...see image above.
    The wall was built many years ago and was not constructed with the weight of a heavy lorry in mind so it finally gave way under the pressure.
    For the rebuild large stones were used for the foundation course and to cope with the weight of the tanker lorry concrete was used to give the wall extra strength.
    The partially rebuilt section of wall seen from above.
    The completed wall... (note very heavy cap stone left of image!)...
    ...and the reinstated post and rail fence. (just in time for lambing season!)
    An image of Townend from the path leading from the car park.
    Townend has recently undergone extensive restoration work owing to the discovery of excessive wet rot in the supporting timbers. Part of one of the beams is on display in the garden!
    Townend is open between 1 pm and 5 pm during the season with  house tours between 11 am and 12 noon.

    Please click on the link below for more information. https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/townend





  • Even tall trees have small starts...

    13:12 09 March 2017
    By Ben Knipe, Dave Almond, Dave Jackson, James Archer, Neil Winder, Roland Wicksteed

    If you've ever driven up from Windermere to Ambleside, you'll have passed the tallest tree in the northwest. You may even have noticed this grand fir, and other magnificent conifers, standing proud against the skyline.


    
    The north-west's tallest tree
     
    These trees dwell in Skelghyll Woods, just south of Ambleside. It's an interesting example of Victorian-era conifer planting, at a time when new and exciting trees were coming back with plant hunters from north America and other places. Douglas fir, giant redwoods, grand and noble firs... to hear some of the tales of trees over 100m tall must have sounded fanciful, but even though they would never see their trees grow that tall, many landowners began planting these new seeds.

    Even now, when we look at Skelghyll, we might only be seeing tree-teenagers. It's easy to think of these as mature 'tall trees', but given some of these species last for a thousand years or more in their native ranges, it's possible that even now we're not seeing them at their best.

    The cathedral-like grove of Tall Trees

    Compare the ornamental planting of these new conifers, the excitement of interesting sounding trees, with later vast conifer planting for timber in what were previously natural oakwoods. If this was done now we could even consider it to be 'eco-crime', but at Skelghyll the trees reflect what was, back then, Victorian ideas of improvement. As much as we might resist such attempts now, it has undoubtably resulted in something rather special and unique at Skelghyll.

    Although these conifers might live on for centuries more, they are mostly of a certain age with very few new trees growing. Because of this, we've recently planted a handful of new, exotic conifers in the woods. Dealing with trees that live for 200 years or more, not many need to be planted at any one time, but if in twenty years another ten are planted, and the same twenty years after that... well, you get the drift. The idea is to have a varied age range of conifers, the next generations coming through to ensure continued presence of cracking trees.

    Last year we were very fortunate to get a kind donation that enabled us to buy four new trees and rolls of chestnut paling to guard them from hungry deer. The lovely couple that donated the trees joined Area Ranger, James Archer, and Woodland Ranger, Liam Plummer, to plant them.


    Mr & Mrs Vaughn plant a Japanese umbrella pine
    with Area Ranger James Archer
    
    Thanks to this couple, we planted two American species - a grand fir, just like the tallest of the tall trees, and a Colorado blue spruce - and two east Asian species, a Japanese red cedar and a Japanese umbrella pine.


    

    
    The couple plant a Grand fir with Woodland Ranger Liam Plummer
    

    We were also lucky to receive four other trees from the National Trust's Plant Conservation Centre - two Himalayan firs, a Himalayan yew and a Jurassic-looking Podocarpus. The Lake District's 'woody volunteers' were out in the sunshine to help plant these ones, again guarded by chestnut paling.



    'Woody Volunteers' Lynn and Alan plant the Podocarpus


    Add to this the three trees planted by the rangers last year, and you can begin to imagine the next generation of tall trees at this woodland. Whilst none of us will ever see them as impressive as their neighbours, it's a welcome thought to imagine just how they might look in a century or two. Even our current tall trees must have had equally small starts at one point!
    
    Little and large!
    


  • Building a stone ford at Low Hag Wood

    11:26 08 March 2017
    By Ade Mills, Leo Walmsley , Pete Entwistle

    Since the start of the new year we've spent much of our time carrying out flood prevention work at Low Hag Wood, Windermere. Low Hag Wood originally formed part of the gardens at St. Catherine's Estate. You can read more about the history of St. Catherine's here... Link

    We have been making path improvements to help manage any flooding of Wynlass Beck such as that which occurred during Storm Desmond in 2015. During the storm there was so much water in the beck that it caused a large pipe, designed to take the beck under the path, to back up. The water was then pushed down the path and damaged fields, properties and the track-ways below.

    The pipe before starting work

    To prevent this occurring again it was decided that we'd build a stone ford that would take any excess flood water over the top of the pipe and back into the beck.

    The first job was to select suitable rock from the surrounding woodland and collect it in our power barrow.

    Unloading the first barrow load

    Once we'd gathered enough rock to keep us going we began to construct the stone ford.

    Ready to start the job

    We used large rocks raised out of the ground to create the edge of the ford, using large stone meant there would be plenty of height difference between the the top of the ford and the pipe.

    Checking the levels

    After a few weeks we had gathered enough rock, and put them into position, to create the frame for our stone ford.

     The completed frame

    With all the edging stones in place we started to fill in the sections leading out from the pipe. These were built at an incline to help prevent water flowing out and over the top of the ford.

     Building the middle section of the ford

    Once the stones had been laid for the middle section the next job was to cover over the pipe. As this would take the full force of the water, and we'd had to use smaller stone to keep the extra height above the top of the pipe as low as possible, we used cement to prevent the stonework being damaged.

     Pipe before starting the stonework

    The stone was built in courses following the line of the pipe,

    Close-up of the concealed pipe

    Once all the stonework was completed we filled all the gaps with soil to help everything blend in a little better.

     The finished pipe section

    With the top of the ford being about knee-height above the original ground level we needed to form a ramp up to this new height. We again collected some large stones to form the edge of the ramp and started to fill in the ramp with surplus rock.

    The first side completed

    With both edges complete we covered over the rock with soil that we'd dug out during the work as it had a high proportion of gravel which compacted well to form a good surface.

    The finished section of path
  • Tree planting at High Borrowdale with Friends of the Lake District.

    08:30 21 February 2017
    By Ben Knipe, Dave Almond, Dave Jackson, James Archer, Neil Winder, Roland Wicksteed

    The National Trust actively encourages members of staff to work for up to 5 days per year with other conservation organisations.

    I used one of my days to help with Friends of the Lake District's Fell Care Force Tree Planting Day on February 8th.. See link below for more information.

    https://www.friendsofthelakedistrict.org.uk/high-borrowdale

    The ongoing project will ultimately involve planting 5200 native trees at High Borrowdale. This land, acquired by Friends of The Lake District in 2002, is located north of Kendal and south of Shap. It is also within the newly extended area of the Lake District National Park.

    A good turn out of over 50 volunteers were at the Hucks Brow layby on the A6 (GR553030) close to the track that leads to High Borrowdale.
    Tools for the job! 
    High Borrowdale is within the locality described by Alfred Wainwright as the most beautiful valley outside the Lake District.

    By planting oak, alder, willow, hawthorn, rowan and holly amongst other tree species, a native woodland will be created.

    This will not only enhance the landscape and habitats but tree roots, once established, will help to combat further erosion. This should reduce the risk of landslides that caused so much damage here in December 2015.
    Struggling up the slope with a bulk bag full of tree tubes and stakes.
    Looks enjoyable!
    One of the sympathetically restored barns, undertaken by Friends of the Lake District, at High Borrowdale in which the trees to be planted are stored.
    Like the wildflowers we planted in Grasmere...See a  previous post...The alder trees are plug plants, making them easier to plant.
    A newly planted alder.
    In total more than 600 trees were planted, staked and tubed on the day.
    A well earned break and you can get 4G here!. I enjoyed my day in High Borrowdale, felt a real sense of achievement, and look forward to working  with  Friends of the Lake District again.

    R.Wicksteed.

  • Recent planting - Langdale

    10:52 15 February 2017
    By Ben Knipe, Dave Almond, Dave Jackson, James Archer, Neil Winder, Roland Wicksteed

    Recently we have been out enjoying Lakeland’s finest weather - rain! We hope you have too!

    Some of the volunteers braving the weather to help us! 

    Our team along with help from volunteers successfully managed to plant 50 juniper (Juniperus communis) trees at Middlefell in Great Langdale. We also planted around 30 other assorted species of tree including Crab Apple, Hazel and Rowan (Malus sylvestris, Cratageous monogyna, Corylus avellana and Sorbus aucuparia).
    Juniper's poor regeneration is of such concern, that it has been included in the Biodiversity Action Plan as a priority species for Cumbria.


    View from Middle Fell our site for the day.

    Various schemes, aimed at conserving juniper, will hopefully safeguard the long term future of this threatened species (see our previous blogs on Juniper planting & conservation).

    Newly planted Juniper 

    The planting of the additional 30 native trees in keeping with the area will help maintain the biodiversity and wildlife value otherwise in decline.

    What is Juniper? – One of the three conifers native to England, can you name the other two (answer below).

    Spot the Ranger.

    Juniper was one of the first tree species to "colonise" Cumbria after the last ice age. Juniper has been a prominent feature on this landscape ever since.
    Juniper is best suited to the extreme weather conditions, and poor soil found on the Lake District fells. Having said this Juniper is still in decline in both Cumbria and the U.K.

    One of the reasons for Junipers decline is that many of the trees found in Cumbria are now very old; (upwards of 200 years old). Unfortunately, the few seedlings that they do manage to reproduce are also heavily grazed by sheep, rabbits and deer.

    Pete and Liam spotted planting down slope, the trucks can be spotted in the back ground, we were working high up the fell side.

    Juniper is an important habitat; as it supports, or is host to over 40 types of insects, including the Juniper Carpet Moth. The caterpillars feed exclusively on juniper. Larvae of the Juniper Berry Miner Moth feed on  juniper seeds.
    Juniper's dense prickly foilage provides good cover and protection for nesting birds.
    The Ring Ouzel, an upland bird of the thrush family, feeds up on ripe juniper berries before its Autumn migration to Southern Spain, or the Atlas Mountains in North West Africa.

    Answer – Scots Pine & Yew join Juniper as the three native British conifers.

  • Mass tree planting in the Lakes

    08:17 15 February 2017
    By Ben Knipe, Dave Almond, Dave Jackson, James Archer, Neil Winder, Roland Wicksteed

    National Trust Rangers, volunteers, local residents and school children gathered together to plant a variety of different trees across the Lake District on 10 February 2017. This was the first ever mass tree planting that the National Trust have organised in the Lakes on the same date and approximately 1400 trees were planted - some of which will be the wonderful veterans of the future.
    Over 90 people took part at five sites spreading the length and width of the Lake District, including; Glencoyne Park in Ullswater, Hoathwaite in Coniston, Wasdale, Fell Foot on the shore of Lake Windermere, and Coledale, near the village of Braithwaite.


    our job in Ullswater was to concentrate on Gelncyone Park


    Glencoyne Park is and ancient deer park that date back 100's of years. the park holds numerous amounts of veteran trees


    in 2013 Stephen Dowson (Area Ranger) picked some crab apples from the veteran crab apple trees in the park


    these apples where sent off to the National Trust conservation center in Devon.


    over the three years since picking the seeds they have grown into saplings and on Friday the 10'th of February they were planted back in the park where they were picked.


    there were 30 crab apple trees to be planted. due to Glencoyne being an old deer park there is still a wild herd of deer that can be found in the park, as well as the 12 cattle that graze the land. This meant that each tree had to be planted inside a deer and cow prove tree cage.


    So prior to the planting taking place on the Friday material had to be carried out to sight




    There were a lot of posts and rails to be carried out each cage required 14 rails and 4 posts.


    A mixture of volunteers, staff and a quad bike helped get everything to sight.






    Once the 30 sights had been selected the cages could be built.




    And finally once the cages had been built the trees could be planted. Luckily we had lots of little hands to help us.




    Patterdale Primary school came to lend a hand.


    We all had a thoroughly enjoyable day.




    Lets hope that in 100-200 years time these will be the veteran trees of the future.