Friday, 7 April 2017

Getting ready for the helicopter lifts

It's that time of year again when we start getting ready for another season of repairing upland footpaths.

This year we're working on two paths that were damaged during the Storm Desmond floods in 2015. The larger of the two projects is at Hole in the Wall overlooking Grisedale valley, for this job we've been filling 260 bags with rock that we'll use for stone pitching and drainage work. The rock has been gathered on the opposite side of the valley and will be flown by helicopter to site.

Bagging rock in Grisedale

Our second job is on the path leading up to Stone Arthur, just outside Grasmere. This will require an additional 65 bags of stone that will be gathered around Greenhead Gill.

The helicopter lifts are due to take place at Hole in the Wall on 26th and 27th April and at Stone Arthur on 28th April, but there's a chance this will change particularly if the weather isn't suitable for flying. The paths will remain open during the heli-lifts but there is a possibility of delays, if you're in the area please take advice from the onsite marshals.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Building a stone ford at Low Hag Wood

Since the start of the new year we've spent much of our time carrying out flood prevention work at Low Hag Wood, Windermere. Low Hag Wood originally formed part of the gardens at St. Catherine's Estate. You can read more about the history of St. Catherine's here... Link

We have been making path improvements to help manage any flooding of Wynlass Beck such as that which occurred during Storm Desmond in 2015. During the storm there was so much water in the beck that it caused a large pipe, designed to take the beck under the path, to back up. The water was then pushed down the path and damaged fields, properties and the track-ways below.

The pipe before starting work

To prevent this occurring again it was decided that we'd build a stone ford that would take any excess flood water over the top of the pipe and back into the beck.

The first job was to select suitable rock from the surrounding woodland and collect it in our power barrow.

Unloading the first barrow load

Once we'd gathered enough rock to keep us going we began to construct the stone ford.

Ready to start the job

We used large rocks raised out of the ground to create the edge of the ford, using large stone meant there would be plenty of height difference between the the top of the ford and the pipe.

Checking the levels

After a few weeks we had gathered enough rock, and put them into position, to create the frame for our stone ford.

 The completed frame

With all the edging stones in place we started to fill in the sections leading out from the pipe. These were built at an incline to help prevent water flowing out and over the top of the ford.

 Building the middle section of the ford

Once the stones had been laid for the middle section the next job was to cover over the pipe. As this would take the full force of the water, and we'd had to use smaller stone to keep the extra height above the top of the pipe as low as possible, we used cement to prevent the stonework being damaged.

 Pipe before starting the stonework

The stone was built in courses following the line of the pipe,

Close-up of the concealed pipe

Once all the stonework was completed we filled all the gaps with soil to help everything blend in a little better.

 The finished pipe section

With the top of the ford being about knee-height above the original ground level we needed to form a ramp up to this new height. We again collected some large stones to form the edge of the ramp and started to fill in the ramp with surplus rock.

The first side completed

With both edges complete we covered over the rock with soil that we'd dug out during the work as it had a high proportion of gravel which compacted well to form a good surface.

The finished section of path

Thursday, 2 February 2017

We're Recruiting!


If you've ever fancied the Lake District fells as your office here's your chance to live the dream... *

We are currently recruiting for a fixed-term, until 1st April 2019, Assistant Ranger (Uplands) here with us in the Central and Eastern Lakes.

Click here https://careers.nationaltrust.org.uk (Central Lakes) for further details and to apply (update: now closed).

Two positions, one fixed-term, one permanent, are also available with the North Lakes team, link here... https://careers.nationaltrust.org.uk (North Lakes) (update: now closed).

*Note: Good weather can not be guaranteed.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Fixing the landslide at Seldom Seen

As part of our work on the path at Seldom Seen we have also recently repaired a substantial landslide, around ten metres in length, which was washed away during heavy rain.

 Landslide from below

The first part of the job was to build the path up to it's original height. Using large stones (the same as we use for path building) a dry stone wall was built and the area behind the wall was filled in with material excavated from elsewhere on the path.

 Building up the revetment wall

The top side of the path had also been badly eroded by walkers trying to find a new route around the landslip. This area was re-profiled and a trench dug into the bank to take water away from the revetment wall and send it through stone drains at either side.

 View of the landslide from the path

Once the revetment wall was completed and back-filled we covered the path surface with pinnel. Pinnel is a type of gravelly soil that compacts down very well to form a hard surface. This was dug out from around the washout and from the path above. It's very labour intensive to dig but gave the path a really nice solid finish.

 Repaired path showing the drainage

Finally the top of the wall was turfed and landscaped to discourage people from walking on the edge and potentially causing damage.

 Landslide from a slightly different angle

The new section of path has made a huge difference and will help prevent the area becoming further eroded by people trying to pick a route around it.

 Repaired section of path

Beyond the landslide a stone path was built incorporating stone drains to prevent water running down on to the area that had been washed out.

Footpath beyond the landslide

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Continuing our work at Seldom Seen

Since our last blog post much of our time has been spent continuing the repair work on the path above the former mine workers cottages at Seldom Seen.

The photograph below shows a section of path that has started to erode quite badly. An old stone drain is at the bottom to allow a small beck to run across the path, but as the stone on the path above is very mobile this fills quickly with rubble. To stop further erosion and prevent the drain blocking up we decided that the best option was to pitch the whole section.

 Bags ready in place to start work

The stone drain was replaced and a new path was built.

 Repaired section of path

Directly above this section the path had really gullied out, you can see in the next picture just how high the bank has been cut away once the new path had been built.

 Path repaired before landscaping

One of the most important aspects of our job is trying to blend a new path in with the surrounding landscape. The following photo shows the same section of path once the bank has been graded. A large quantity of soil had to be removed (which was used for landscaping elsewhere) to create a more natural bank this was then turfed and seeded to help stabilise the bank and also speed up the vegetating process.

Newly landscaped path

The next section that we worked on had suffered a serious landslide which can be seen in the following photographs.

Starting work on another section

The new path includes much better drainage to help reduce the volume of water flowing down the path which should help reduce the chance of another washout.

Completed path

To help prevent the soil in the bank falling back onto the path when it rains the side of the path has been edged with large boulders which will be continued along this full section. We'll also spot turf the area and put down plenty of grass seed to try and stabilise it all.
Close-up of the landscaping on the bank

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

More footpath repairs on Gowbarrow

After a years break we have again recommenced our work up on Gowbarrow Fell. During the helicopter lifts we had a few extra bags of gravel flown to site and with help from the Fix the Fells volunteers we've started some more path improvements.

The photo below shows a section that we'd previously worked on but now, with hindsight, we've decided that part of the path was just too steep. If left this way the gravel would be unlikely to stay in place resulting in people walking off the path and causing damage to the vegetation.

 Old section of path

We decided to reroute the path to avoid the steepest area and thereby make it more sustainable. The first job was to remove gravel from the original path and dig off the turf where the new path would go.

 Removing the gravel

The line of the new path went through a deep ditch so much of the soil that was excavated was used to help fill it in. A trench was dug across the original path to drain water away, this also produced plenty of soil and helped form a barrier to discourage people from wandering up the old path.

 Preparing the new path

Once the new path had been levelled we covered the old path with the turf that had been dug off and gravelled the new path. In just a day the whole area had been transformed.

 Newly aligned path

On our next volunteer work party we tackled a section a little further down the path. This included lengthening and widening the path and removing a large depression in the path that had been formed by water runoff causing the the path to start washing away.

Turf was first removed from the upper side and the path was widened into the bank. Next, the lower side of the path was built up, using stone, soil and the turf that had been generated while digging out the bank.

 Starting work to remove the dip

Once the artificial bank on the lower side was completed the whole area was filled in with gravel to form a level path.

Newly levelled path

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Starting work at Seldom Seen

As usual, our upland footpath work season began with a few weeks of filling bags with material to be flown by helicopter to the work site. We filled around ninety bags with rock from scree opposite the path where we're working.

 Heli-Bags filled and ready to be flown

The bags were flown a few hundred metres across the valley and dropped around each of the areas that we'd identified to be repaired.

 Unloading the first bag

Many of the sections of path that we're repairing on Seldom Seen are only around a metre in length and will prevent the path from getting worse. The section below had started to wash out and then deteriorated further after the winter flooding.

 Short section of path to be repaired

To stop the path getting worse, we built a short section of pitching and a stone drain. This will allow the water to be shed away from the path rather than run down it. Soil excavated while building the path was put downhill to fill in some of the gully caused by the flow of water. You can see in the photo below that rock has been dug in further along the path on the right hand side, to direct walkers onto one line and prevent the path getting too wide.

 Finished section of path

Fixing the drainage on this path is one of the main aspects of the job, as water running down it is starting to cause problems, and the path has shown significant deterioration over the last few years.

 Building a new drain

Another section that has badly gullied out can be seen below. The original short section of pitching and drain isn't really up to the job.

 Gullied section of path before repair

For this section, we moved the drain about a metre downhill to the bottom of the pitched path. This drain is fed into by a small beck, which was realigned with the new drain. The path has also been extended through the gully and incorporates another drain at the top of the path to shed any water running down the path. There's still some landscaping work (grading banks, turfing and reseeding) to be done but it's a big improvement on what was there and will help prevent it getting any worse.

Pitched path through the gully