Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Jessie's post (The Keswick Mountain Festival).

My name is Jessie Binns and I am doing the guest post this week. I’ve worked in the Lakes for 6 years now with the National Trust, and one of the highlights of my year each year is the Keswick Mountain Festival.

This year the National Trust was nominated as the official supported charity for the festival for the second year running. They have thousands of people entering the running, cycling and swimming races (which mostly take place on fells and in lakes that we care for around Keswick). 

What we help them with is making sure that the families who come onto the ‘Festival Village’ on our Crow Park at Keswick also have a really good time.

When I was talking with the Lakes rangers about what we should do on the National Trust stand this year, they started talking about a really inspirational film they’d seen at our ‘Outdoor Conference’ last October. Project Wild Thing is a funny, and moving documentary about one father’s quest to find out why his children prefer watching TV to playing outdoors. The National Trust helped to fund the film and so the rangers wanted to use our stand at Keswick Mountain Festival to launch a ‘Wild Summer in the Lakes’ to give families lots of ideas of places to go and things to do to make it easier to make the outdoors fun.

So, on the stand we had den building, mud pie making and ‘extreme’ tree climbing to 35ft (thanks to the Lake District forestry team for this). Inside the yurt we had some amazing wild art activities run by the staff from Wordsworth House and Garden, who reminded us that of course William Wordsworth grew up roaming the riversides and fells of the Lake District and could be described as the original wild child!

Working at the festival is both exhilarating and exhausting. I’d put our people counters on the main gate and they tell us that 16,898 people came onto the Festival Village at Crow Park over the weekend – and that’s just during the day, let alone the music concerts. The ranger team worked in shifts from 8am to 6pm with some covering the evening until 11pm – it’s a lot of work!

I think my highlight was, after enjoying watching Seth Lakeman playing on the main stage on the Saturday night as the sun set behind the fells, seeing him bring his children into the National Trust yurt to do some wild art on the Sunday morning, it’s great that every family, no matter where they’re from, can connect with us and find something that appeals to them.

The festival’s over for another year, the bunting has been washed, dried and put away and it’s time for some very tired rangers to have a well-earned rest.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Jack's post (Repairing & replacing walls and gates.)

I’m Jack one of the National Trust Estate Rangers who works with Roy. I’ve been working for the National Trust down Borrowdale for five years now. I love the job because I love working outdoors and the job is varied.   

Last week the Ranger ops team carried out a project up at Watendlath. The project involved taking down a small section of wall and then rebuilding a quoin end.
                                    Before (Picture by Jack Deane)

The start of the quoin end (Jack Deane)

       Jack and Dan rebuilding quoin end (Picture by Paul Delaney) 

The stone left over from taking the wall down was used to extend a drain by building a stone culvert. The project also involved replacing two eight foot gates with two ten foot gates. Either side of the gates was then railed up to make it stock proof.

New gates in place  (Jack Deane)

Luckily the weather was on our side with the sun shining and blue skies. The reason for this project to be carried out was to make the gate way bigger for easier access. Also to make the field more stock proof for one of our farm tenants.  

The end product (Jack Deane)

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Leila's post (Digging drains!)

I’m Leila, one of the rangers who work in the North Lakes with Roy.  I’m an Academy Ranger, which means I’m one of ten trainees taken on by the Trust every year to learn everything there is to know about rangering and I was lucky enough to get placed here.

This week the National Trust Volunteer group from Yorkshire came up for their twice-yearly visit to Borrowdale.  With fourteen enthusiastic volunteers on their way we needed a big enough job for them to tackle, and we had just the thing – a particularly muddy section of path and a cunning plan to fix it…

The path is downslope from the road and every time it rains water runs down onto it forcing people off the path to get round, the answer was to put in a side drain and culvert and resurface the path.
This requires a lot of gravel and the day before the volunteers arrived was spent carting materials to site.

The Volunteers arrived on Saturday morning braced for rain but keen to get started.

Getting started

The drain is essentially a ditch filled with chunky gravel that allows water to flow through between the gravel stones while preventing leaves and other debris from falling in and causing blockages. It needed to run the length of the footpath from where the water washes in at the top all the way to the culvert at the bottom – about 70 m! But everyone got stuck in and the ditch quickly began to take shape:

Half way there
At the other end a pipe culvert needed to go in to channel water out of the drain and away from the path.

Ranger Andy explains how to build the culvert

Culvert in progress

Once the ditch was dug out we needed to fill it with gravel. Such a long drain required a lot of toing and froing with wheelbarrows.

The pile of gravel soon went down and after the arrival of the second trailer load the ditch was filled.

On the second day the path was finished off with lots more wheelbarrowing of gravel to cover the surface of the path. 

The before and after pictures - a vast improvement!

We are very grateful to all the volunteers for their help, in fact they worked so hard they finished early and took to the nearby path from Kettlewell Car Park with loppers to clear back vegetation!

So once again huge thanks are due to our Yorkshire volunteers who did another fantastic job for us.

Friday, 1 May 2015

Spring snow.

Looking at fresh snow on the fell tops now and it’s hard to believe that we had such warm, sunny weather last time I posted – our new ice-cream cart even made its debut.

Spring has definitely arrived though and the signs are there for all to enjoy. Trees are in bud, lambs are gambolling in the fields and wild flowers are adding their flashes of colour to the landscape. Dandelions are especially bold with their displays but they close up if showers are threatening.  They remind me of some of the stories we attach to plants, often with good reason but sometimes just echoes of long- forgotten origins.

You can easily find the following on a short walk through Cockshott Wood and along the lake shore.

Primroses – their name derives from the Latin prima rosa (first flower/rose). In folklore these are said to help you to contact the fairy world!

Wood anemone (wind flower) - the Greeks believed the flower was a gift from the wind god Anemos (or Eurus), sent to herald his coming in spring.

Vinca (periwinkles) – these are associated with creating harmony in life.

Gorse (Whin, furze or kissing bush) – gorse has one of the longest flowering seasons which no doubt explains the saying, “When the gorse is out of bloom, kissing is out of fashion.”

Hawthorn – the most famous of these is the Thorn of Glastonbury which flowers in May and also in December. Ours are at their best in Spring when they fill the air with their scent.

Those are just a few examples but stories from your area could be quite different. You might find some surprises if you take some photographs on your next walk and follow up with a search on-line for more information.  

You could also visit our website at www.ntlakesoutdoors.org.uk if you’d like to find more about Spring wildlife experiences.

P.S. The first swallows have been seen and the first cuckoo heard in Borrowdale.

Monday, 20 April 2015

The sun continues to shine!

Well, the good weather continues and we have lots of visitors who are making the most of it. If you are planning to come for your first visit, there is no better place to start than here around the Borrowdale and Derwentwater area.  Regular visitors will be noticing that the Trust is introducing some new features that we hope will be enhancing your experience. A good place to start for family walks is by the Trust shop on the shore of Derwentwater.  Outside the shop there are some boards showing suggested walks that take in lake shore and woodland. 

You can also find similar boards at many of the car parks.

Another new venture can be found at Ashness Bridge. You might remember that I mentioned a small building called Bark House that was wrapped in sheep fleeces as part of C-Art last year. It was returned to the National Trust recently and we are currently working on the best ideas for its use. For the time being, we are opening it with some of our volunteers who will chat about the surrounding area. On cold, wet days you can also pop in and enjoy a nice log fire.

What we would really like is to hear ideas from you about how you think we could use Bark House to improve your visit. You can either tell the volunteers while you are there or email northlakes@nationaltrust.org.uk 

We would also like to hear from anyone who can tell us anything about the history of the building. We do know that it was used as a Scout base in recent years but we can find very little information about its earliest uses. Its name suggests that it might have been something to do with the tanning process but we have not yet been able to find any evidence of that. If you can add anything to our knowledge, we would love to hear from you – again at northlakes@nationaltrust.org.uk 

But, of course, there is nothing better than having you come and introduce yourself to us when you see us. That is one of the best ways for us to find out if you enjoy what we are doing.

Sunday, 12 April 2015

The arrival of Spring.

As in most of the UK, we have been having a run of beautiful Spring days here in the Lakes and the daffodils are in full flower. The combination of the weather and schools' Easter break has meant that we've had lots of families with children visiting. So, we have been busy organising a day of activities for families.

On days like these we have to make an early start setting out things and this year we had a misty start. Once the sun was up, the mist burned off and it was a bright sunny day that was also very warm in sheltered places.

Those who joined in had the opportunity to do a trail starting at the National Trust shop by Derwentwater. This took them through Cockshot Wood which had some unexpected things to discover. If you haven't walked through the wood before, it really is worth doing especially with children.  There are lots of surprises for them to enjoy.

We have some big spiders!

New build ground nests!

On completing the trail, there were the traditional chocolate eggs of course.

It turned out to be too busy a day to take lots of photographs but I'll add more if anyone else managed to take some.

Daisy here:

I wasn't at the Easter event. I don't know why. I know chocolate eggs are bad for dogs and I don't think I would have eaten any.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Sky watching.

There are days in Borrowdale when if I took photographs of the same view at hourly intervals it would almost be possible to believe they were taken over the four seasons. The following pictures were not taken like that but they do show the constantly changing skies and light which can be overlooked if we focus all our attention on lakes and mountains. All it takes is for one cloud to shift and the light changes to create a completely different experience of the landscape.