Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Footpath repair at Stickle Ghyll and Mickleden

Last week we returned up the fell for the start of a new season of upland footpath work.We started off the week by erecting our sheds up at Stickle Ghyll  and Mickleden which will provide us with a base to keep a few tools, and give us somewhere to shelter while we are having our lunch.
Since we had some good weather, we took the opportunity to put some grass seed down around the paths and in the plantations (on the left hand side of Stickle Ghyll). Grass seeding is an ongoing task, as it can often take several years for the grass to become properly established, and is very dependent on the weather during the growing season, the level of grazing, and also the amount of any trampling.

The shed site at Stickle Ghyll

During the week we also had a Fix the Fells volunteer group who came and helped us out at Mickleden. We started work on pitching a section just after the bridge and also landscaping with some large boulders to help narrow down the path. Unfortunately the weather deteriorated for the day but we still managed to get a decent amount of work completed.

The Fix the Fells volunteers hard at work

Pete and Leo narrowing the path

Towards the end of the week we were back up Stickle Ghyll starting work on repairing the stepping stones at the top of the ghyll. Before starting on the main stepping stones we had to create a safe crossing area that we can use as a temporary diversion. So we winched a couple of stones into place across the beck so that people can safely cross while we fix the main crossing, higher up the path.

Building the diversion

With the upcoming bank holidays the team are all taking a few days holiday to get some well earned rest.  So it will probably be a couple of weeks before the next update, hopefully this good weather will stay with us for a while longer!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Finishing off the Elterwater path

Our other job last week was to finish off the path on Elterwater Common that we'd started back in March with rock collection. We'd got as far as putting all the pitching and drains in and replacing one of the bridges, but we still had another two more bridges to complete, as well as all the gravelling and landscaping.

Finishing off bridge Number Two

It took us around a day to replace two bridges and get the path ready for the gravelling, which left us one more day to put down all the gravel, landscape the path (to help it blend in better with it's surroundings) and tidy up.
By the end of the first morning we'd shovelled out, and put down 4.5 tonnes of gravel (which we collected from the nearby Elterwater quarry), we used our petrol power barrows to get the gravel to the less accessible areas of the path. This left us with an afternoon to re-seed around the path and make the area look more presentable.

Shovelling the gravel 

By the end of the day the path was looking great and given a few more weeks of decent weather for the grass to grow it should look even better still!

A few more photos of our work on the Elterwater Path can be seen by clicking here: TwitPic

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Completing the Bird Feeding Station at Stickle Ghyll car park

As our attention had been focussed on bag filling and helicopter lifts for the past few weeks, there’d been a few jobs that we’d had to put on hold for a while. But last week we had the opportunity to finish them off, before we return back up the fell for another season of upland footpath work.

Our main job was to finish off the bird feeding station at Stickle Ghyll car park. The first thing to do was to create a viewing area,  this involved attaching three hazel panels to a six foot high post and rail fence, which we’d previously constructed back in mid-March. Once they were securely fastened we then cut some viewing holes at different heights, to accommodate people of different heights and age ranges.

 Creating the viewing area  

To finish off the fenced area, a lower post and rail fence was also erected with a small wooden gate at one end. This will provide access to the feeding area, so that the feeders can be refilled when required.

  Hanging the Gate  

The final job was to knock in two long wooden posts to which we could connect a chain between, this would give us something on which to hang the feeders. Once all this was done the feeders were filled up. We are using three different types of feeder which are filled  with either suet balls, a seed mix or peanuts, this offers a variety of food types for different bird species. Our first visitor (a blue tit) arrived almost immediately as the last feeder was hung up.

 Looking out for our first visitor  

We’re hoping that this feeding station will not only help to sustain the local bird population, but also provide members of the public with the opportunity to see a good variety of wild birds close up. As well as common species like blue tits, great tits, and blackbirds other less well known species like goldfinches, treecreepers, long-tailed tits and great spotted woodpeckers have all been recorded in the area over the last few years. There have also been  a few sightings of Lake District specialities such as redstarts and spotted flycatchers, and although they’re unlikely to visit our feeders, having the feeders there may just open peoples eyes a little to the wildlife around them and thereby make them more likely to see some of these other, much less common, species as they head off on their walks.

  What else is out there?

So if you're passing Stickle Ghyll and you've got a few spare minutes why not drop in and see what you can see! Finally, we'd like to say a great big "Thank you" to everyone who has made donations towards this project, your support is greatly appreciated!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Helicopter Lifts in Langdale Valley

It was a long week for the fell rangers last week. Our annual helicopter lift was booked in and 200 bags of stone each weighing approx 1 tonne were ready to be lifted to the paths that we are working on this summer.

The weather had been beautiful the week before (it actually felt like summer), in fact it was nice Monday and Tuesday last week, when bags for another footpath team where getting flown. Then Wednesday arrived. We were all ready, the signs had been put out (to inform walkers of possible delays) and our new shed was ready to be flown to it's new home for the next 6 months.
Signs all ready to go out

Unfortunately the weather gods didn’t read the script and after an eventful 7 bags were flown on Wednesday morning, the weather closed in.

As one member of the team said "it’s like the gates of hell" when the weather is bad in Great Langdale. For the next three days we sat and we waited, we were buffeted by high winds and drenched from heavy rainfall. There is only a certain amount of times you can play eye spy before you start going mad. We did however have our Area Ranger to keep us entertained, for those of you who know him, and I’m sure there are a lot in Ulverston, he does like a good chat. By Friday though, even he admitted that he didn’t have anything more to say.

The helicopter, ready and waiting

So as the week drew to an end it looked like we would be coming in on Saturday, not the best time to be flying bags around, as the paths are much busier at the weekends, but needs must.

We arrived at work on Saturday with much speculation about what the weather was going to do (it didn’t look good). Again we sat waiting. Then at about 10:30 AM blue sky, yes for the first time in 3 days blue sky. The pilot jumped out of his vehicle and said "I think this might be it lads". It was. After 3 days and two hours sat in the vehicle we were off. Mickleden was our destination we had 100 bags to fly to the Rosset Ghyll path.
Helicopter Lift in progress

The weather cleared and we had a hugely successful day flying all our bags, as well as 30 bags for another footpath team onto the summit of Pike of Blisco.