Friday, 27 February 2015

Maintenance and renewal.



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.


Friday, 20 February 2015

Shipping diggers over to Derwent Isle.


I’ve briefly mentioned before a big project that the Trust is undertaking to replace services to Derwent Island. This entails running an LPG gas supply pipe and a pipe to remove waste water along the lake bed. During part of this work the pipes will float and create a temporary pontoon so there will be some disruption for regular users of the lake. The launch operators and regular wild swimmers have all been kept informed about this and can make alternative arrangements. Our aim is to minimise the impact in any way we can.


The specialist contractors who are doing the job are very professional and I have complete faith in their doing a superb job. You can see from the photographs what they had to do to get two mini- diggers and two powered wheelbarrows over to the island. It hardly seemed possible until I saw their skills in action. Fortunately it was a still day with flat calm on the lake and they just drove the machinery straight on and straight off the boats. The boats were impressively stable.





To create space for the diggers to work, I’d had to clear some branches and brushwood but these will regenerate quickly and in a short time they will have grown back. My volunteers did a great job moving the wood around to a site for future burning.


This is a very unusual job and it is a great relief to see that the contractors are so good at what they are doing.


Daisy and a friend’s dog Che spent the day running around with the two dogs that live on the island

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Daisy here:



Che’s been to stay.  It was great.


Friday, 13 February 2015

Wintry hills.



I had an interesting and very enjoyable experience recently with two photographers from the National Trust’s head office in Swindon. They were visiting with a brief to take photos of snow on the fells of a wintry Lake District. 



We had lots of snow at the time so we had a tour of Borrowdale and were joined for part of it by my volunteers.  I took them up Dalehead where there were superb views and a beautiful sunset. It was a great day and I enjoyed working with such enthusiastic guys.



Eventually I will be sent some of their photographs and I’ll pop some of them here on the blog. Meanwhile, I’ll post now some of the ones I took. 








You won’t see me of course because I was behind the camera! The full collection will be stored in the Trust’s photo library and might be used anywhere by the Trust so watch out for them.


Daisy here:




I’ve been out playing on mountains. John Malley was with us as well and his dogs.  They’re great.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Running repairs.



Regular walkers on the most popular of the Lake District fells have probably come across sites that are showing signs of erosion. Often this begins with heavy trampling and destruction of the vegetation that is holding soil in place. Once exposed the soil is vulnerable to being washed away by the heavy rains we can have. The soil finds its way into streams, rivers and lakes. So we then have damaged slopes and silted water courses and lakes, neither of which we want.


Last week I was working on two such sites. One of these on the slopes above Braithwaite has been managed for some years now. Where path erosion is a concern, we have created a parallel stretch of path with a simple gating system. The gate is just an oak beam that can be swung across to close either of the paths. After a few years, when the path in use begins to show too much wear and tear, we swing the barrier across to close it and walkers then have a regenerated stretch to use running quite close beside it. The barrier is quite low in height to minimise its visual impact but it encourages walkers to avoid using the damaged stretch that needs some time to recover. The damaged area will be seeded and allowed to recover and then we’ll repeat the process as necessary. This is a system that we are finding is working very well.

                 



Not too far from this, a new path is developing that goes straight down the hillside on a bracken-covered, steep slope of approximately 45 degrees. It’s likely to be used by just a few people, possibly fell runners, but the steepness of the slope means that it is particularly vulnerable to erosion. If the bracken is trampled, water will use the channel to run off the slope taking with it soil and maybe even causing land-slips.






              



The problem can be avoided if we can persuade people to use the existing footpath that has a hard-wearing surface. So I’ve put a simple post and rail fence at the top of the problem path and a sign at the bottom explaining why we want people to use the established path. I think that many people just don’t realise how much damage can be done by the huge numbers who now visit the Lake District.
I will be monitoring the situation in future and, if necessary, will have to install more fencing and signs. I really don’t want to do that because it spoils the landscape that people love.



Daisy here: I’ve been running up and down really steep hills with Roy.  It’s great.






Thursday, 29 January 2015

Enjoying learning.



Despite some inclement weather, last week included a day out with Threlkeld Primary School. We visited Myrtle Bay, and the recycled plastic boardwalks. We used those as the basis for learning about measuring, estimating and working out the costs of things.



We first paced things to estimate distances. Then they were measured using a trundle wheel and finally we calculated the costings for a length of boardwalk. So that was the mathematics aspect of the work.



We also talked about the reasons for using recycled plastic boards for projects like these. We use boards made from waste collected in NW England and manufactured in Liverpool so they could see tangible results of the recycling they are encouraged to do. Lots of lessons to be learned from that about minimising waste, reusing materials and reducing transport pollution whilst still being sensitive to the qualities we value in our surroundings.


It was a really good day with nice kids who were thoroughly enjoying learning through outdoor activities. I enjoy these days as much as they do!

Daisy here:





I’ve been playing in the snow. I can run really, really fast. It’s great.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Footpath improvements



A big job this last week was to work on the footpath from Cockshot Wood down to Derwentwater. This is a popular path which at this time of year is mainly used by local people walking their dogs. The path runs through a low-lying section of a field that is always boggy and wet during the winter months.




      


A Trust team has rebuilt a boardwalk through this area and then, with the extra help of my volunteers, we have laid a dirt scree path from the end of the boardwalk back towards the wood.  




This is another win/win situation. It will be easier to walk on; there will be less damage to the ground; the farmer will be happy that less of his field is being turned into a muddy quagmire and, although it is looking a bit raw at present, with some grass seed, come spring it will look well.  The end result should be a hard path that is grassed over and is not visually intrusive.


It’s a good job done so huge thanks to the footpath and estate teams and also to my volunteers.
On a personal note, myself and Jan both stepped down from the mountain rescue team this last week.

Daisy here. 


 I’ve been helping the teams. It’s great. I’ve been carrying timber – well, little pieces.