February 2015 Team Update

In February the team continued to help the South Lakes Ranger team with work in the lower level countryside.

We spent a few more days building tree cages for our Woodland Ranger. This is part of a project to restore the designed landscape around Wray Castle, as over the years trees have been lost to storms and old age. An old map from 1888 was used to track where trees were missing and the same species as the original planting scheme: oak, beech, lime, sweet chestnut and scots pine have been planted. Including the ones built in January the team have now built 51 tree cages.

A completed tree cage on Randy Pike near Wray Castle

We also completed a project in the woodland by Tom Gill mentioned in last month's update. Part of this involved using landscaping techniques to reduce the number of different paths and side routes that have developed. One technique we used was to winch fallen trees into positions that obstruct the "extra" paths.  This should help keep people on the main path and give the eroded areas a chance to recover.  In time this should make a big difference to the ground flora and the biodiversity in the woodland.

Winching a tree into position to deter people from straying off the main path along Tom Gill

One Saturday in February we were joined by a group from the Cumbria Branch of the Dry Stone Walling Association (DSWA). The location was a path that goes from Blea Tarn to Blea Moss in the Langdales and it turned out to be a beautiful winter's day.

Blea_Moss_Smoot__IMG_6753.jpgIt was a beautiful day for this work party
The reflection of the Langdale Pikes in Blea Tarn was stunning

The reason for this work party was to help improve the drainage as there are wet areas on a section of this path next to a dry stone wall. Puddles on the path have been discouraging people from staying on the path and causing side route erosion damage. We had decided that it would be helpful to incorporate a few "smoot" holes in the dry stone wall so that the water can flow off the path through these. This was where the DSWA volunteers came into their own.

Section of wall "stripped out" and re-building has started....

It was a very enjoyable and productive day. A good section was re-built with a "smoot" and it also gave the team an opportunity to improve their dry stone walling skills.  This was our second day with the group and we are looking forward to another day with this group in March to build two more smoots.

The re-built section of wall with its new "smoot" hole for drainage

This time of year we don't get to spend much time working in the fells due to the weather conditions and the shorter daylight hours. In February one day we did spend on the fells was on the Tongue Gill path, which is part of the Coast to Coast walking route. This was for one of our regular work parties with the volunteer lengthsmen.  Programme Manager, Tanya, also joined us and can be seen (in pink) working (rather than supervising) in both pictures below.

It was a pretty grim day for this work party although this never seems to dishearten the volunteer lengthsmen. However it is fair to say that lunch and other breaks were brief in order to stay warm. The work undertaken included stone stepped "pitching, drainage work and also some landscaping. These are three of the main constituents of our upland path work. Despite the poor conditions it was a good day and the intended section of path work was completed.

Looking up Tongue Gill at everyone (except the photographer) hard at work


Looking down Tongue Gill at work in progress

At the end of the month there was more dry stone walling when a group of National Trust Trainee Academy Rangers from around the country came and spent three days with the team.

Wall Gap "stripped out" and the Academy Rangers are starting to re-build it....

The Academy Rangers are encouraged during their training to spend time in other property areas around the country to help develop their knowledge and skills. There is always plenty of dry stone walling to do in the Lake District so when we were approached we were happy to help.

We managed to re-build to a good standard several metres of fairly challenging wall that had collapsed. We did this with time to spare......
....fortunately there was another wall gap nearby that we could then get cracking on. It was very nice having the group with us, sharing our skills with them and also learning about their backgrounds and countryside areas.

Dry Stone wall section nearly finished, just a few more "cams" to go on the top


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