Thursday, 26 May 2011

Helicopter Lifts at Stickle Ghyll

Last week started off with helicopter lifts at Stickle Ghyll. The lifts had been scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, so Monday morning we went and put some signs out to let everyone know that we'd be moving rock in the area. Although the pilot had managed to fly down from Inverness that morning, the wind on higher ground was just too gusty and he wasn't very keen to be flying with a tonne bag of rock underneath his helicopter so we rescheduled for Tuesday.
The following day proved to be much better, the wind had dropped nicely but unfortunately there was some low cloud hanging around. Low cloud makes for difficult flying conditions, especially when you're getting in close to the crags, as you really need to have good all-round visibility. The cloud didn't really cause us any problems until around lunchtime when it suddenly dropped lower and forced us to stop for around an hour until it lifted again. Except for that delay the lifts went relatively smoothly and we got all 98 bags flown by the end of the day.

Moving Rock at Stickle Ghyll

Once the lifts were out of the way, we set to work on repairing the section of path just before the stepping stones, which we'd completed a couple of weeks ago. The section that we needed to repair had become badly eroded, as during really heavy rainfall the beck often overflows at the stepping stones. When this happens the water then runs down the path which has caused it to be gradually washed away over the years.

Section of path in need of repair

When we bagged up the pitching stone prior to the helicopter lifts, we also filled up several bags with extra large "landscaping stone". Landscaping stone is generally used next to the edge of the path to stop people from wandering off it and causing erosion damage. So during the lifts, we flew in a few bags of landscaping stone specifically for this section of path. With the rock now in place, we moved the stone into position to the edge of the path forming a revetment to help retain the footpath. We then replaced the damaged section of the original footpath with some new larger rock. We are hoping that by building a substantial revetment and using this bigger rock the path will be more equipped to stand up to the beck overflowing. Time will tell.

After repair, showing retaining stones next to the path

The path after repair, looking towards the stepping stones

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