Monday, 6 January 2020

Finishing off the footpath at Hole in the Wall

Our last upland work of the year, indeed the decade, was completing the section of footpath just below Hole in the Wall, on the way up to Striding Edge.


Joining up the path

We still had a sizeable section of path to complete and it was a race against the clock to get all the work finished before the onset of winter.
Newly landscaped section of path

Although there was a lot of rubble to dig through, most of the path was 'relatively' easy digging although we hit one section of solid bedrock towards the top of the path that slowed things down a bit. This all had to broken and prised out of the ground before the footpath could be built.

 Bedrock

You can see some of the bedrock that was taken out of the ground to the side of the path in both the previous and following photographs. When large quantities of rock are produced it often makes the landscaping difficult, especially in areas such as Hole in the Wall where there isn't a lot of surface rock visible.

Path before landscaping

To blend the area in with its surroundings, much of the rock had to be moved away from the path and buried. Then soil that had been excavated further up the path was carried downhill and used to cover over the rubble. Once this was done, as usual, the area was turfed and seeded.

Path after landscaping

You can see in the following photograph how the original path was widening as people wandered away from the original line (here covered by stone).
 Starting a new section

With the new path in place and the surrounding area landscaped with soil and turf, the footpath has been narrowed. Given time and plenty of grass seed, the areas around the path will become nicely vegetated. Any water running down the path will be shed away by the stone drain you can see in the photo below. All this combined will vastly reduce the amount of soil erosion.
Finished section of path

With the new path completed, the final job was to pitch up to an older section of path above where we were working. The path had originally been put in at ground level but over the years the soil has eroded away and had left a high step up on to the path. Eventually the path would have started to fall out, and people were already starting to avoid the step up (as seen to the left of the photo below). By adding this extra metre of path the original work will last much longer and the damage caused by people avoiding it will be prevented.

Pitching up to the old section

With the job completed and first few snowflakes of the year proving that winter was fast approaching it was time to head down off the fell and commence our winter work lower down in the valleys.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

Gowbarrow helicopter lift and a return to Hole in the Wall

After all our work bagging the rock and aggregate for the footpath repairs on Gowbarrow, it was time to get everything flown over to site.

 Looking down on Ullswater from the helicopter

A quick flight over gave us the opportunity to look down on some of the previous repair work. The path line is through some really boggy areas and was getting rapidly wider as people tried to avoid the worst areas. After the addition of aggregate and some stone drains, the path has narrowed considerably and the erosion has been completely stopped. The vegetation is now slowly returning to areas that had once just been bare peat.

 Gowbarrow summit from the air

The lower sections on the Dockray side of the path are being repaired using the aggregate and we're using the rock on the steeper section of the path, which had previously been pitched. This section of the path is also going to be re-aligned to avoid a section of bedrock that's proving awkward for some people to walk on.

Flying in aggregate to Gowbarrow

Either side of the helicopter lifts, we've been working on the footpath near Hole in the Wall. We're continuing the upper section of footpath that we originally started in 2017.

 Start of this years work before landscaping

Although considerably wider than the usual footpaths that we build, due to the number of walkers using it, the new path is still much narrower than the eroded path was and is more contained.

 Start of this years work after landscaping

As usual, we're removing any turf before it's covered with spoil and then using it to line the stone path. Re-turfing like this tends to work really well. Where we've worked on the path lower down, areas of Heather have already began growing in the turf as well as other species of flower such as Bedstraws, Eyebrights and Tormentil.

 Middle section completed

We still liberally apply grass seed, but it tends to struggle to germinate at these higher elevations. However, the low levels of grazing up here means that grass is more likely to grow longer, flower and set-seed. So hopefully over time the area will self-seed itself, although we'll still give it a helping hand with the addition of extra grass seed if needed.

Upper section completed

Monday, 8 July 2019

Finishing at Boredale and preparing for helicopter lifts

Since our last post much of our time has been spent repairing the footpath up to Boredale Hause.

Towards the top end of the footpath the path-line follows a natural gully, but this has been much worsened by water and footfall.

 Starting work in the gully

The gully was steep through the lower section but levelled off as height is gained. There was also a fair amount of buried rock and areas of bedrock that made constructing the path more difficult.

 Path progressing through the gully

Nearby large boulders were moved and incorporated into the landscaping to help protect the edge of the path and give the work a more natural feel.

 Completed section of path

Due to the steepness of the bank in the gully a vertical edge was formed next to the path as we built the footpath.

 Top of gully before landscaping

This edge was graded back into the slope and turf edged before seeding. All the spoil that was generated while creating the footpath was moved and used for landscaping work and also seeded and spot-turfed.

 Top of gully after landscaping

The last section that we worked on was a short section of path incorporating a stone drain that led up to a section of bedrock.

 Working on the top section

Once again the spoil generated was used to landscape the path before turfing and seeding.

 Completed top section

The path gains height and joins seamlessly into a section of bedrock that is incorporated into the footpath.

Tied into the bedrock

With the footpath up to Boredale Hause completed we began preparing for the upcoming helicopter lifts.

 Loading the power barrow with pitching stone

Back in December 2015, during Storm Desmond, a large quantity of stone was washed down Glenridding Beck and had to be removed to prevent more flooding. So early in 2016 we took the opportunity to pick through the rock and store it for future path repairs.

 Bags full of rock ready to be flown

As suitable stone around Gowbarrow Fell is hard to find we're using some of the rock retrieved after the floods to repair a steep section of path on the Dockray side of Gowbarrow.

 Loading a power barrow with aggregate 

Through flatter, peaty, sections of the footpath we're using stone aggregate to build a more solid and sustainable path.

Filling a heli-bag with aggregate

The areas of path that we had previously worked on have been really successful. Further erosion to the path has been stopped and areas surrounding the footpath have now nicely revegetated. You can see how we previously worked with the aggregate on Gowbarrow by clicking on the link to this previous blog post... link.

Monday, 3 June 2019

Working on the footpath up to Boredale Hause

Since our last blog post we've been busily working alongside the South Lakes team at Boredale Hause.

Last year we completed work on the bridleway that leads up to Boredale and now in the second year of the project we're working on the footpath that runs parallel to, and just below, the bridleway.

 Starting work midway up the footpath

 Completed section of path

We started midway up the footpath with the South Lakes team working on a section of path further down the hill.

 Stone on site and ready to begin work

Completed footpath after landscaping

As usual each team member worked on approximately a ten metre stretch and when completed leapfrogged over the person above them to advance further up the path.

 Starting work on another section

Completed path

The lower sections of the footpath were surprisingly easy digging for a change so we advanced fairly quickly.

 Work begins on a new section

 Getting further up the path

 Newly landscaped path

As we got higher up the path we started to hit more bedrock, rubble and solid ground which has hindered progress a little but we're still making good headway. We're hoping that in two or three weeks we'll have the rest of the footpath completed and landscaped.

 Pile of rock ready to be dug in

 Advancing up the path

Another completed section of footpath

We've had a fair amount of dry weather since starting work in early April so a lot of the turfs are a little parched and the grass seed is taking it's time to grow but the recent rain we've had should hopefully help remedy things.

Monday, 8 April 2019

Bridge repairs at St. Catherine's, Windermere.

As part of our low-level winter work we've spent some time over in Windermere repairing a couple of wooden bridges at St. Catherine's.

Bridge before repairs

As you can see in the photograph above the bridges were in quite a poor state and had already undergone several temporary repairs but it was now time to give them a new lease of life.

Removing any old nails

The first job was to remove the old treads, while taking off the treads many of the nails were left in the beams so we removed the tops with an angle grinder.

Replacing the treads

Since the beams were in a decent condition they were left in place and the new Larch treads were nailed onto the old beams.

Making sure the bridge is always passable

The new bridges are not on a public right of way and will mostly be used for forestry and farming operations. But since they are also used by people walking around the estate at St. Catherine's we made sure that the bridges were always passable removing only a few treads at a time and replacing them as we went along.

Treads replaced and walled up

Once the treads were in position we trimmed them all off using a circular saw and tidied up the dry stone revetments either side of the bridge. This would allow us to gravel up to the bridge and remove the lip between path and bridge.

 Fixing the uprights in place

Once the path had been gravelled up to the bridge a non-slip surface was attached to the bridge.

Attaching the rails

A section of tread was removed to allow each of the uprights to sit flush against the outer beam so they could be bolted into place. The final job was to attach the handrails to the uprights. 

You can see a couple of before and after photos of the second bridge below.

Second bridge just after starting repair work

Completed second bridge with new section of wall

The repaired bridges, with new thicker treads, should now safely support any heavy vehicles passing over them as well as provide better access to anyone wandering around the estate. 

Friday, 15 March 2019

Fencing at High Lickbarrow Farm, Windermere.

Over the last few weeks we've been working over at High Lickbarrow Farm in Windermere putting in around 400 metres of stock proof fencing.

High Lickbarrow farm was bequeathed to the National Trust in 2015 and is home to the rare Albion cattle, formerly known as "Blue" Albions.  The Albion has recently been recognised as a UK native rare breed and added to the Rare Breeds Survival Trust's watchlist because of its rarity. High Lickbarrow Farm supports the largest herd in the country.

Blue Albion cattle at High Lickbarrow

The farm covers fifty hectares of land which has traditionally been grazed by only a small number of cattle and supports some fantastic wildflower rich pastures, much of which has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

 Knocking in the straining posts

Our first job was to get the straining posts into position. Usually this is done by hand and one person can generally dig in and tighten into position, two posts each day. As the fence line was so long and undulating, it meant there were a lot of straining posts to put in. Luckily, as the farm provided good access, we were able to speed the job along by getting a local contractor to come in with a tractor mounted post knocker and the whole lot were in place in less than a day.

 Adding the struts

With the strainers in place, a single length of plain wire is attached between each post. This gives a straight line to help align the struts and fence posts. Struts are added to prevent the straining posts from moving while the wire is being tensioned. With these in place we then knocked in fence posts every two metres between the straining posts.

 Adding the stock fencing

Once all the struts and posts were in position it was time to attach the stock fencing. This is connected between straining posts and tightened to the required tension using two pairs of "monkey strainers".

 Attaching the barbed wire

With all the stock fencing completed the next job was to add a single strand of barbed wire.

 Section of post and rail fence

To make sure the fence was completely stock proof we added sections of post and rail fencing between straining posts and other boundaries such as dry stone walls or hedges (as shown in the photograph above).

 Starting work on the gate

To finish off we incorporated a gate into the fence line to further improve access.

Finished gate

You can learn more about Albion cattle by clicking on the link here... Albion Cattle Society