Friday, 24 February 2012

Path improvements at Allan Bank

As part of our ongoing improvements to the network of footpaths at Allan Bank we've been working on a section of wooden risers (steps) that run from the slate steps to the entrance of the tunnel. We decided that wooden risers were needed for this section as it's pretty steep and if left alone it's likely that the path would have deteriorated.

Constructing the risers

The risers are constructed using wooden posts and rails. The rail is cut into lengths the width of the footpath and once the ground level has been established a trench is dug out for the rail to sit in. Once this is done, two posts are knocked in at either side of the rail and the rail is then nailed to the posts. Another one or two lengths of rail are then attached depending on how high you want each step to be. This is repeated until you reach an incline that is less steep and therefore less likely to erode.

Once all the risers were in position the next thing to do was to edge them with timber. Several small trees have been recently felled both for safety reasons and also for thinning the woodland. So we took advantage of this and cut them into suitable lengths and put them into position against the edge of the path.

Edging with some felled tree trunks 

With the edging in place it was time to gravel in between the risers. For this we were assisted by the Fix the Fells volunteers.

Moving the gravel 

With all hands on deck we shifted the gravel with a fleet of wheelbarrows and we soon had the new risers filled in with a good layer of gravel.

Freshly gravelled risers

After a lot more shovelling and many more wheelbarrow loads we were finally gravelled all the way into the tunnel.

Entrance to the tunnel

Monday, 20 February 2012

Repairing the steps at Allan Bank

Since our last update we're still busily working away at Allan Bank, in preparation for opening the doors to visitors at the end of March.

Our first job was to repair a section of slate steps. There are several sections of similar steps scattered around the woods at Allan Bank but over the years they have all fallen badly into disrepair.

Steps in need of repair

Firstly we removed most of the moss from the steps and photographed them for our records. With this done it was time to take them apart.

Stripping the steps down

Once the steps had been dismantled we began to re-assemble them but this time we used cement between the courses so there would be no risk of the steps coming loose. For their intended purpose they would have been fine without the cement (although we did find a few patches of mortar when we took them apart) as few people would have ever walked up them. With the gardens soon to be opened to the public it is important for them to be much more durable.

Battling on through the snow

After just over a weeks work the new steps were all finished and ready to be used.

The completed steps

To improve the bit of path leading to the steps we rebuilt a couple of sections of retaining wall (revetment) which is there to stop the path from falling away as it is built across a slope. There was an old retaining wall, but little of it remained so it was a case of stripping down what was left of the old wall and rebuilding it more or less from scratch.

Retaining wall during construction

Once the wall was finished we topped it with some slates, to tie it in it's appearance with that of the steps, and put down a layer of gravel to improve the surface.

Finished wall with the gravel in place

For more news on what's happening at Allan Bank why not pop over to Facebook and give us a "like"? Just click on this link...National Trust Allan Bank Facebook page

Monday, 6 February 2012

You can help us improve our Social Networking

Now we've been blogging for almost one year and we've just reached 1000 followers on Twitter, it would be great if you could give us a bit of feedback on just how you think we're doing. 

So we've set up a quick survey (it really does only take a minute or two to fill in) and it'll help us to choose which direction we take things. Providing there's the interest, it will give us a good starting point before running some more detailed questionnaires in the future to fine tune things a little. Thanks for your support!

Click here for the link to the survey...Fell Rangers Social Networking Survey The survey will remain open until the 5th March 2012.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Dry stone walling at Allan Bank, Grasmere

Over the last couple of weeks we've started work on the exciting new project at Allan Bank in Grasmere. There's loads of work for us to get our teeth into at Allan Bank, but our first job was to improve access into the gardens for some heavy machinery.

We need to improve the access as part of the restoration work involves removing a lot of Rhododendron and re-instating an old gravel path that has been lost under the vegetation. Our work involved opening up a gateway and widening the entrance to the walled garden, so that it'd be possible to get through with a tracked chipper and a mini-digger.

The wall needing to be rebuilt to improve access

We were fortunate that there was a section of wall built up to the walled garden, that had been added to narrow the entrance way, that we were wanting to widen. As it was a later addition and in bad repair it was decided that we could use this section of wall for our repairs.

Old section of wall that we used as a stone source

We immediately set about stripping down the wall that had to altered and taking down the old wall for it's stone. We soon ended up with a big pile of rock which was roughly sorted into different stone piles...standard walling stone, stone for the wall top (coping stones), stone for the end of the wall (the coin end), larger "through" stones and small stone for packing out the middle of the wall.

Taking down the wall to be rebuilt

 After the end of the first day we'd completely taken down the section of wall we were working on and extended it out. This gave us the few extra centimetres that we needed to get the machinery in.

Starting to take shape

By the end of the second day we'd finished rebuilding the wall, and it was time to put the top stones in place and as you can see from the tracks in the photo below...plenty of room to get the digger through.

The Finished Wall