Latest team news

  • Shiver Me Timbers!

    07:39 23 August 2016
    By Ben Knipe, Dave Almond, Dave Jackson, James Archer, Neil Winder, Roland Wicksteed

    The historic yeoman farmer's house, Townend, was recently extensively restored after wet rot was discovered in the structural timbers.
    Under instruction from Stephen Haigh, Buildings Archaeologist, we cut out sections from the old timber so that a dendrochronologist could analyse them at a later date.
    Simply put, Dendrochronology is the science of dating wood through the analysis of the patterns of tree rings aka growth rings.

    Hopefully it can be determined in which year the timber was felled thus giving a valuable insight into the history of this wonderful house.

    In the images above Stephen Haigh has chalked sections of wood to be cut out for the dendrochronologist to examine.
    The timbers removed from Townend have been labelled  to indicate which part of the house they were used for during its construction.
    A cut through a comparatively sound section of wood...
    ...in contrast this one is rotten for much of its length!
    'Chain Saw Carnage'!
    Stephen Haigh's liaison with the dendrochronologist has resulted in these samples being cut from the timber. Meticulously labelled, they are to be sent away for analysis.

    This was one of the more unusual jobs we have been involved with!

    Any updates will appear here.




  • New Bench for Holme Crag, Jenkyn's Field.

    11:52 18 August 2016
    By Ben Knipe, Dave Almond, Dave Jackson, James Archer, Neil Winder, Roland Wicksteed

    Many years ago there used to be a bench on Holme Crag, a rocky outcrop  of Jenkyn's Field,  jutting into the north east side of  Windermere near to Waterhead.

    Holme Crag as seen from the lake.

    Thanks to a National Trust supporter, who chose to celebrate the birth of his grandson with a generous donation to our work in this area, we were able to commission a local blacksmith to fabricate a new bench.
    To give the new bench a firm foundation an oak sleeper was cut in half. Two parallel trenches were dug, at a set distance, within which the sleepers were placed...see below.
    A certain amount of landscaping was needed to get the bench as level as possible on its newly positioned supports. 
    The base of the bench was drilled back at St. Catherine's to allow it to be firmly attached to the two sections of sleepers... using coach screws.
    Approaching the bench (after a brief steep walk) you'll be rewarded with...
    ...a splendid view of the North West shore of Windermere and somewhere to sit and enjoy it!
    Subsequently the area around the bench has had lake gravel spread around its base.

      
  • Fenced out!

    09:00 12 August 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, my name is Amy and I am the new Long Term Volunteer here with the South Lakes team. As part of my degree at Aberystwyth University I have to undertake a placement in a relevant industry to my chosen degree of Countryside Management and Conservation. Even though I have learned a lot in lectures the time I spend with the National Trust will be just as important if not more, putting what I have learned into practice as well as increasing my knowledge of key practical skills.



    Before shot
    Having worked in the Coniston area for the last month I have now moved over to the Hawkshead side where we are currently extending fences into Lake Windermere. These fences are not to exclude people from areas of land (step stiles have been added for access) but instead cattle. Cattle can prevent natural regeneration of woodlands from occurring by grazing off young shoots from the trees. Currently the under story of the trees is pretty bare, with the extension of the fences these shoots will be allowed to grow and an understory can develop.




    Adding the rails

      

    However extending fences into a lake is not as easy as it seems, firstly working in water is much harder than working in bare ground as very quickly the water loses its clear appearance and becomes slightly cloudy with the disturbance of the ground. Secondly there are many rocks in Lake Windermere, all of which affect how easily or straight it is to get a post into the ground. 


    Finally once the posts are in the ground and up to the wobble test it is time to attach the rails; for the majority this was the easy task but hammering in water is a new and weird experience. For this fencing task waders were a must as we all found out!





    The completed fence into the Lake.




  • Chopping down the trees

    14:58 05 August 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




    Why are you chopping down the trees? This is a common question we get asked whenever we're tree felling.

    In fact the landscape we see today may look natural, but it has been shaped over many centuries by the people that have lived and worked here. The woodlands were a vital resource for the local iron, leather and bobbin-making industries, as well as providing timber and firewood.

     Luke marking up the trees that were to be felled

    Woodlands in Britain were historically managed by Coppicing. The word coppice comes from the French word ‘Couper’, meaning to cut, a method which involves cutting down trees and allowing them to re–grow from the stumps, known as stools.

    One of our conservation projects this year has been at Hoathwaite, near Torver, which is a National Trust campsite and a tenanted farm managed by Sam Inman. This project has been to improve and protect biodiversity and water quality.

    The start of the project saw the team coppice the alder trees along the stream edge, not only to maintain local traditions but to allow the dormant ground flora a chance to thrive without the shade from the trees.

    The South Lakes volunteer group having a well-deserved lunch

     Ben one of our upland rangers busy burning the brash

    We then had a local contractor double fence the entire length of the field along with a nice new stock crossing. The tenant farmer Sam Inman allowed us to set back the fence from the beck to create a “buffer zone” protected from grazing stock. This provides places where plants can grow up, providing more cover for birds, insects and small mammals and helping to consolidate the banks with their root systems and prevent bank erosion alleviating siltation. 


    Some of the coppiced Alder stools with new growth

    The lovely new stock crossing 

     One section of the new double fence line with more coppiced stools

    Since the fence line has been erected the ground flora has started to thrive, with species such as Ragged Robin, Common Birds-Foot Trefoil, Meadowsweet, Sheep Sorrel, Marsh Willowherb, Red Campion, Meadow Buttercup, Common Marsh Bedstraw, Common Mouse-ear, Yellow Pimpernel, Red and White Clover to name a few.


    The other section of double fence line full of vegetation


    Without the generosity of our donors we would not be able to carry out important and beneficial projects such as this. Thank you for your support to enable us to continue our conservation work.









  • Summer Branch Drop.

    07:30 03 August 2016
    By Ben Knipe, Dave Almond, Dave Jackson, James Archer, Neil Winder, Roland Wicksteed

    Last week a loud cracking noise disturbed the peace and quiet of a hot, still afternoon at St. Catherine's. Within seconds a large oak branch crashed to the ground, narrowly missing the Spirit of Place sculpture that stands at the entrance.
    This occurrence had all the hallmarks of Summer Branch Drop (SBD). Once considered a rare event, anecdotal evidence now suggests, it may be more common than was first thought... Mature or veteran oak trees, along with beech and horse chestnut, are particularly prone to shedding branches during prolonged heat waves or in calm weather, after heavy Summer rainfall.

    Why, on windless hot Summer days, do branches showing no apparent defects suddenly and mysteriously crash to the ground?  One theory is that when the demands for transpiration (water evaporation from leaves) overwhelms the tree's vascular system... the tree responds by shedding branches. Other theories include tissue shrinkage, internal cracks, difficult to detect rot, and/or ethylene gas being released inside the branch....but there are no definite answers. Consistent warning signs have not yet been established or confirmed.
    Above is an image of where the branch split. The wood looks perfectly sound, and even with the most rigorous  inspection, it would be nigh on impossible to predict, prior to the branch being aborted, that it would fail.
     Liam, Woodland Ranger, is seen here cutting up the branch.
    Waste not. Want not. More firewood for the Footprint log burner!
    The brash will provide excellent habitat for wildlife. Hopefully it will provide cover for hedgehogs... numbers of which are, sadly, in steep decline
    This veteran oak at National Trust owned Jenkins Field is adjacent to the A591 near Ambleside. A very busy road and the pavement is used by many walkers.
    In successive years this tree has shed branches in late Summer. The evidence of one branch failure can be seen in the image above. The road was blocked on this occasion until the branch was cut up and removed; the police directed traffic while this was going on! Mercifully no one was underneath the tree when the apparently healthy branches were discarded.
    The concern that the tree might abort yet more branches in the future prompted the National Trust, at considerable expense, to reduce the crown of the tree to ensure the safety of walkers and motorists in its vicinity. Close examination showed potential weaknesses in some branches so more pruning was done than was at first envisaged. In the image above a split branch and a cut branch next to it can be seen. 

    Overall the risks associated with SBD are small and even in hindsight the cause is usually a matter of speculation or an educated guess!

    The National Trust carry out regular and thorough tree inspections. Identifiable problems, or quantifiable risks are dealt with as soon as possible.

  • 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).