Sunday, 8 November 2020

Repairing the footpath on Loughrigg Fell

Since our last blog post we've been busy repairing the footpath on Loughrigg Fell, focussing on the lower section of path from the terrace up to the summit. Prior to having the rock flown to site we erected temporary catchment fences to prevent the risk of any rocks falling out of the heli-bags while they were being dropped and potentially rolling all the way down to the lake shore below.

Bottom section of path just after erecting the catchment fence

Our work has involved replacing old sections of the footpath that were difficult to walk on either because it had been put in at an angle or because the steps were too small to easily place a whole foot on. We reused as much rock as possible, mixing it in with the additional rock that was flown in by helicopter.

Bottom section of path after about one month's work

We started work on the path in mid-July and due to the furloughing scheme we had unprecedented numbers of walkers using the path. This offered us the great opportunity to showcase our work to members of the public, many of whom had never previously visited the Lake District before. 

Bottom section after landscaping

The high number of visitors also proved challenging, as we had to constantly stop and start as walkers moved through the worksite, making progress much slower than normal especially during the sunniest weather.

Chipping through bedrock

Another challenge that slowed us down was the large amount of bedrock just below the path surface which had to be chipped away before we could build the path.

Upper section of path (before)

Sections of the path that had previously not been worked on had started to badly erode (as seen in the previous photograph) and were also repaired.

Upper section of path during work

The erosion had also caused the old path to start falling out in places, so the path was pitched up to it to produce a hard sustainable surface.

Top section of path (before)

Top section after joining up to the original footpath

During the season we also carried out repairs to a section of footpath higher up the path, which will be detailed in our next post.

Monday, 20 July 2020

Returning back to work

Due to the outbreak of Coronavirus, and the team being furloughed from March through to mid-June, it's been a long time since our last post.

Prior to our furlough we'd been involved in a wide range of lowland work such as drystone wall repairs, stock fencing, deer fencing, and improving the drainage at Stickle Ghyll car park.

Our drystone wall work was mostly around the High Close estate and included repairing field boundaries and a large stone revetment that had been damaged by a fallen tree on the trackway that runs adjacent to the Red Bank road.

Damaged revetment

Newly repaired revetment

Stock fencing work was also carried out around High Close. An old fence that had been put in around 30 years ago to keep sheep out of a small area of woodland was definitely showing it's age. The fence was removed, any re-usable posts were kept, and it was replaced with new posts and wire. This will keep both the tenant farmer happy and also improve diversity in the woodland... a win-win.

We also erected a deer fence in a woodland above Troutbeck Park. A small enclosure was made which, being deer-free, will allow the ground flora to flourish and the trees to naturally regenerate thereby improving the age structure of the woodland.

Old fence on High Close estate

Replacement fence

Deer fence in Troutbeck

Our work at Stickle Ghyll allowed us to turn our hands to a bit of brick-laying as we added additional drains to the car park and replaced many of the original drains with a new "chambered" design while also replacing the drain covers. The car park regularly struggles to cope with winter flooding so fingers crossed the improvements will help rectify things.

Excavating in the car park before rebuilding the drains

Completed drain

But just as we were just about to complete our estate work for the year and resume our upland footpath work, the announcement came that the team would be furloughed.

On our return, after a day of catching up and reading all the new guidelines on how we can now safely operate, it was straight back into bag filling on Loughrigg ready for the upcoming helicopter lifts.

First bag filled on Loughrigg

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.


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.