Sunday, 20 March 2011

Collecting Rock for Footpath Repairs on Stickle Ghyll

Well it’s that time of year again when we need to collect rock for this years footpath repair projects. Traditionally the bulk of our footpath work takes place between March and November with each season normally commencing with the collection of rock to carry out the necessary work.

Although we use different methods for getting rock to the work site, including hand winches, petrol winches, power barrows and physically rolling the rock by hand, the majority of rock these days is moved by helicopter.

Of course before the helicopter can move the rock we need to fill the bags. This comes from a suitable site on the fell as near to the work site as possible and simply involves us selecting and ‘handballing’ the rock into the bags.

Filling helicopter bags with rock

For anybody whose interested in facts and figures, on average each rock we put into the bags will weigh about 100kg and each bag when full will weigh between 800 and 1000kg. We’ll each fill about 10 bags a day depending on how far we’ve got to walk to reach the rock collection site. On Stickle Ghyll we’ve filled 102 bags, which took 3 days, this included carrying all the empty bags to the site.

Lunch time

Job done!

Bag filling at this time of year does have its drawbacks, other than it being physically hard, the weather can change from one extreme to the other. This week we had a day of sunshine and summer-like temperatures followed by 2 days of rain with a maximum temperature of 5°C.
The worst weather we’ve experienced was blizzards with temperatures below zero with a wind chill nearing -20°C, we literally had to prise the rock from the frozen ground.  At times like this lunch lasts about 10 minutes!

Filling bags in -20 degrees Celsius

Filling bags in the snow

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