Monday, 28 March 2011

Preparations for the Helicopter Lift

After a couple of weeks of rock collection the helicopter lifts are now nearly upon us. So we’ve turned our attention to getting everything in place ready for the lifts.

First of all, we went to collect sixteen 25kg bags of grass seed that will be used to revegetate around the footpaths; this helps slow down any erosion and also helps the path to blend in with it’s surroundings a little more quickly. The seed, and a few bags of fertiliser, will be flown up to this years work sites, and also to a few other sites where we have worked in the past that still require a bit more greening up.

Our stockpile of grass seed in the seed store

When we’re working up on the fells, we can often be an hours walk from our vehicle, so it is really useful to have somewhere near to the work site to store any equipment, tools and grass seed that we may need. So at each work site we generally have a shed flown in. Our shed also provides us with somewhere that we can retreat to for our lunch when the weather is particularly bad, or on rare occasions it provides us with shelter from the midday sun in the summertime.

Usually each shed lasts for many years, just requiring a little strengthening or minor repairs from time to time if it has suffered any damage during strong winds. When we’ve finished work at a site we dismantle the shed and flat pack it, secure it with tension straps and weigh it down with rocks (just in case of any gales) so that it’s all ready to be flown to the next site. Unfortunately, somebody had decided they wanted to take the tension straps we’d used to secure the shed next to the path above Stickle Tarn. So when we went to check that everything was ok with it, we discovered that the shed had been ripped to bits by the strong winter winds.

So last week we went to pick up a new shed. The shed is 7' x 7' and custom built so that it can be made with thicker wood than your standard garden shed which in theory should help it last that bit longer. But when we came to unpack the shed we quickly realised that whoever had ordered it had forgotten to ask for any windows in it, so our shed was more like a (very dark) box. Luckily we had some clear perspex so we cut it to size and set about putting a window in .

Glazing the shed

The next job was to strengthen it a little. We did this by securing each corner with three heavy duty bolts, and in addition the floor was attatched to the sides of the shed with coach screws. This tends to hold everything together much more strongly than if it is all just held in place with wood screws.

Drilling the bolt holes

Finally, work began on felting the roof. Although the rain always manages to find it’s way into the shed, and you can pretty much guarantee that at some point, late on in the year, at least one member of the team will be sat having their lunch whilst trying to avoid drips from the roof, you’ve at least got to make the effort. So a thick layer of waterproofing was painted on to the roof and the felt tacked on over it, so fingers crossed and we’ll see how it lasts.

Felting the roof

So now all that’s left is to put out a few signs on the paths where the stone is being moved. These help to inform everybody about the helicopter operations, so that people know what’s going on and that there’s likely to be delays and possibly diversions. Hopefully we’ll get some decent weather on the days of our lifts, though at the moment the forecast isn’t looking great.

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