Tuesday, 29 March 2016

New path at High Cascades

It's been a while since our last update. In that time, amongst other things, we've had a few weeks off over Christmas, spent time clearing up and checking the full extent of damage after last winter's devastating storms, and also spent a lot of time working over at Aira Force.

Our work at Aira Force has involved re-routing a section of path near High Cascades. The original path involved clambering over bedrock and up some steep sections of stone pitched path. Not a problem for some, but for those less sure on their feet, it was an impassable barrier.

Some people had already found a way to avoid this bit of path by going "off piste" and over a fallen dry stone wall. We decided to use this route as a rough guide to where we'd put the new path.

The first job was to remove a section of the fallen wall to give us enough room to put in the new path and also to give us access with our power barrow. We removed the largest stones from the dismantled wall and side stones from the original path to edge our new path.

Taking down the wall

Completed section with wall repaired and side stones

To give us the best line, with least gradient and no stone steps, we decided to cut the path through the steepest bank to give us a steady incline .

Digging out and edging the steep middle section

Finished middle section

With the line of the new path decided, we worked out where rain would be most likely to flow onto the path. We decided to add two stone cross-drains, to remove water from the path, and three sections of pipe, to take water underneath the path. All the pipes were concealed with stone to hide them from view. Once the drainage was sorted, we started to gravel the path. We ensured that the steepest sections of path were graded out to make the path as easy to walk on us possible.

Shortly after finishing the lower drain

Concealed drain and original path (lower right) landscaped

At the top of the path the original line went down some stone pitching and through a gap in the drystone wall. We removed the pitching and used rock from the wall we'd taken down earlier to wall-up the gap. We put a drainage pipe under the new path and a small hole in the wall to take the water.

 Stone pitched path and wall gap

 Repaired wall and new path with drainage

As spring progresses and the plants spring back into life the whole area should quickly blend back in with it's surroundings and the old path should just fade away.

Looking down the lower section of path

Monday, 30 November 2015

Repairing revetment walls on the shore of Ullswater

Our most recently completed job was over at Ullswater, where we repaired a couple of sections of revetment wall next to the lake.

 Section of wall in need of repair

Both sections of wall required some very large rock as the lake can reach the walls during flooding events and using smaller stone would mean that the walls could easily be washed away.

 Corner in need of repair

While the lake was low we collected rock from the shoreline. Much of this was stone from the walls we needed to repair that had either fallen down or been pulled down by visitors to be used as stepping stones or seats.

 Collecting the rock

After a few days work we soon had the walls back up and looking tidy. We shovelled gravel off the beach to fill behind the back of the wall and landscaped the top to help encourage people to walk around the wall rather than clamber over it.

Repaired corner

As was always likely to happen, a couple of weeks after we finished work the heavy rain came, so we went and checked to see how the walls had stood up to it. The corner section was fine but the lake had risen up and got behind the longer section of wall and washed out much of the gravel from behind it. Pleasingly the wall itself was absolutely intact, so we collected some good-sized rock and filled in the gap behind the wall, which should offer the wall some more protection, then filled it in again with gravel. Hopefully this will be the last big flood of the year and there'll be some time for grass to grow behind the wall, which should provide it with extra protection.

Repaired wall

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

Replacing the revetment at Cockshott Point

We've recently been replacing an old revetment at Cockshott Point on the banks of Windermere. It was put in place to protect the bank from washing away when the water level rises on the lake, especially after flash flooding. The original revetment was built back in the 1980's and was starting to look a bit worse for wear.

 The old revetment

Our first job was to remove the old revetment and salvage any useable stone. Some sections had also been cemented together so where possible we removed the rock from the cement.

 The old revetment stripped out

We brought in some new stone from a drystone wall that had been been dismantled and kept aside for future use. We also collected some rock from the edge of the lake that had obviously been pulled out of the revetment at some point.

 Digging in the first course

For the first course we dug in a deep line of stones as this would be the first line of defence against the rising lake and will help protect the rest of our work.

 Working our way up the bank

We then positioned some wooden rails to help us keep line as we worked up the bank. We progressed up the bank building one course on top of the other, similar to building a drystone wall.

 Progressing nicely

Once each section was completed we "leap-frogged" over each other to start work on another section.

Starting work on the next section

To improve access down to the shore we added a couple of low slate steps. Once all the work was finished we had a big clean up removing all the rubble and soil, and finally adding grass seed to the whole area.

The finished work

The work has taken a good few weeks to complete but it's a big improvement on what was there previously and should hopefully last much longer than the original work. You can see another example of the revetment we replaced at Cockshott Point in 2013 here... link

Friday, 24 July 2015

Pitching the path at Millbeck Farm

We've recently been working on a section of path next to Millbeck Farm in Great Langdale. The path had some old pitching around the gate but this was in need of replacing and much of the rest of the path had been disturbed during excavations for the new hydro project.

 Before starting work

The repairs were relatively straightforward except for a small section underneath a veteran Yew tree. To cause as little disturbance as possible to the tree we moved some large boulders into position to form the edge of the path. This meant we could raise the path over the roots and not have to dig through them. Luckily there was still a digger on site after the hydro work so we had the rocks in place much more quickly than if we'd had to move them by hand.

 Section under the old Yew

In time as the Yew grows it's likely that we may have to reset some of the stones, so we'll keep a close watch on things.

 Pitching under the Yew

After a couple of weeks we'd replaced the path from beneath the Yew tree and up through the new gate.

 Repairing the path near the gate

We brought in some extra topsoil that was being used for landscaping around the intake of the hydro-electric scheme and put some grass seed down, to give the path a good chance to recover.

 Most of the landscaping completed

After just a few weeks time the new section of path was looking much improved.

Finished path

Friday, 19 June 2015

Landscaping and path repairs for the hydro-electric scheme

Last summer work commenced on building a 100kW hydro-electric scheme at Stickle Ghyll that would provide enough clean energy to power Sticklebarn. Sticklebarn is the only pub that is both owned, and run by the National Trust and is conveniently situated at the bottom of Stickle Ghyll. An engineering project of this scale has obviously created a sizable visual intrusion so we were tasked with helping to reinstate the area and return it to a more natural state.

Our first job was to repair the section of path next to the bridge and intake weir, where the water storage tank is located. After the tank had been installed the path was initially graveled, skimmed over with soil, and piles of rock were left along the edge of the path.

 Before starting work

We gathered much of the usable rock by hand and moved it up to the path, in addition we brought in some extra rock that had been generated during the engineering work to make sure we had enough. The job was complicated by the first few metres of path being sat directly upon the large concrete water tank but it wasn't too long until the new path was starting to take shape.

 Pitching the new path

Once the path was completed we set to work on landscaping the path to help it blend back in with it's surroundings. We brought in several tonnes of topsoil to cover over the spoil and gravel that had been generated while building the stone path. This was either shoveled or moved by power barrow to where it was required. We then dug in surplus rock and re-positioned some of the larger boulders, turf was added to a few spots and the whole area was covered liberally with grass seed.

 Freshly landscaped path

We've been closely working with some local contractors on the larger areas of landscaping, their main work has been moving the topsoil and reprofiling with diggers. Once we'd moved the usable rock from the lower side of the path the contractors dumped several loads of soil for us to spread next to the path.

 Landscaping the lower side of the path

In just a few weeks the seed was starting to grow and the path was again starting to fit in with it's surroundings.



 Path starting to recover

The photograph below shows the wider area before we started and the rock pile that was used for building the path.

 Rock pile next to path

With the new path in place, a lot of extra topsoil and several bags of grass seed the whole area has now been transformed. We'll continue to reseed the area through the summer and, given a little time, the area should once again be looking great.

 New path with the seed starting to grow

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Repairing the path on Helm Crag

As part of our continuing repair work on the Helm Crag path, we recently arranged a weekend work-party with the Fix the Fells volunteers. Our task was to continue a section of path using the subsoiling technique, which you can read all about in a previous blog post here...National Trust Working Holiday on Helm Crag. The photograph below shows a section of completed subsoiled path, just before the area to be worked on.

 Recently repaired section of path

The work involved linking the path that we'd previously repaired to the original path-line. In the photograph below you can see the original, eroded path to the left of the photo and a bare area of grass to the right where our new path will go.

 Where the new path joins the old path

In just a few hours, most of the path had been dug off and we managed to find plenty of the red sub-soil which makes an excellent topping for the path.

 Digging out the path

We blocked off the old path (which you can see leading to the right in the following photograph) with some large boulders and used some excess soil to cover the eroded areas. At some point in the next week we'll put some grass seed down on this fresh soil to help green up the area.

 Looking down the new path

By the end of the day we'd completed the path and a turf-lined side drain which will now provide a more sustainable surface on the route to the summit.

Almost completed path

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Repairing the path at Aira Force

Since finishing the tree cages we've mostly been working over at Aira Force, carrying out some urgent path repairs. One section we've been working on can be seen in the photo below. It shows the original path to the right, which people had started to avoid due to the bedrock that is protruding. A new, lower path had started to form, which is potentially dangerously close to a steep drop down to the river.

 Before starting work

Firstly, we moved some large rocks from the original path to form an edge to the lower path. Any bedrock sticking up into the new path was broken with crowbars and sledgehammers until it was low enough to cover with gravel.

 Starting to build up the edge

As well as using the stone from the old path, we gathered some large boulders from higher up the bank to continue the edging. This would help keep people away from the edge of the river bank and give us a suitable edge to gravel against.

 Edging almost completed

The next job was to dig a trench to divert any water off the new path; this fed into a pipe underneath the path and out into the river. Ideally we'd have built a stone drain but there was not enough suitable material nearby so we had to make do with plastic pipe, though we made sure it was well concealed.

 Digging in the drain pipe

With the new edging and drainage in place all that was left to do was the graveling. We put some turf over some of the path edges and we 'll put grass seed down to help the soil revegetate more quickly and soon you'd never know the other path existed. The new path is now much safer, easier to use and a much better line. It'll allow people to enjoy there surroundings and not have to think as much about where they're walking.

Turfing the freshly graveled path