Thursday, 11 July 2013

Finishing the path at Esk Hause

After several weeks working up at Esk Hause we've now finished the first part of the project. The first section of path has now been replaced with it's improved drainage, and we've also completed the landscaping work.

Landscaping is an essential part of the job and is key to getting the path to blend back into it's surroundings. You can see in the photograph below how it looked straight after building the new path and prior to any landscaping.

Lower section before landscaping

While building the path, large amounts of rubble are generated, and because we were replacing an old path we also had quite a lot of surplus rock to deal with.

In the photograph below, some of the larger bits of rock have been dug into the edge of the path to discourage people walking there, and also to help the path look a little more natural.

Excess rock, and larger bits of rubble have been gathered together and covered over with the soil that was generated while building the path.

Lower section after landscaping

The next photograph shows another section of path before any landscaping work. Again, notice the piles of spoil, rubble and surplus rock.

Upper section before landscaping

After landscaping, the spoil has been shaped to make it look more natural, it has also been seeded to help stabilize things and start the process of turning the waste back into fell side.

Turfs that were removed while building the path had been kept to one side and have now been used in places along the edge of the path to help stop soil falling back onto the path.

Upper section after landscaping

It will still take a little time for the vegetation to completely recover, especially somewhere as inhospitable as Esk Hause. But if you use your imagination while looking at the "after" photographs and imagine the soil areas greened over, you can see the effect that we're trying to achieve. We'll no doubt be carrying some more grass seed up to site in future years to give it more of a helping hand, and we'll post some more pictures later on to show how it's developing.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Rock Art in Great Langdale and Grasmere

No one likes shifting large rocks about more than us Fell Rangers, but that hasn't always been the case...

The National Trust owns and manages several important prehistoric sites in the Lake District. Castlerigg stone circle is probably the most famous. Situated just outside Keswick, Castlerigg is thought to be one of the earliest stone circles dating back to the late Neolithic around 3200BC.

Castlerigg Stone Circle

To the north of Penrith is Cumbria's largest stone circle, Long Meg and her Daughters. On the tallest standing stone is some impressive art-work (known as rock art) consisting of carved spirals and concentric rings. This site is privately owned but easily accessible to the general public.

Rock Art on Long Meg

There are known to have been in excess of 75 prehistoric stone circles in Cumbria although several have now been destroyed because of religious beliefs or/and used for building materials. It was believed that a circle was also present in Grasmere but it's exact location is unknown.

Recently one of our keen eyed rangers discovered some new rock art on a rock outcrop just outside the grounds of Allan Bank.

Rock Art at Allan Bank

These designs are known as "cup marks" and are the simplest form of rock art that can be commonly found. Maybe not as impressive as the spirals of Long Meg but nonetheless an important part of our cultural heritage.

 Close-up of the Cup Marks

Over in Great Langdale there are more fine examples of rock art. Copt Howe, also known as the Langdale Boulder is situated just outside Chapel Stile and has a variety of different motifs including both cup marks and concentric circles. It's been suggested that thousands of years ago it was used as a way marker to the Langdale "Axe Factories" on the Langdale Pikes, where stone axe heads were once crafted on an industrial scale.

These axes were of enormous value and were traded right across the country and Langdale axes have even been discovered in central Europe. It is thought by some that one of the uses of the stone circle at Castlerigg may have been for the trading of these axe heads.

In more recent years Copt Howe has become a place of pilgrimage for climbers and boulderers wanting to hone their climbing abilities.

Copt Howe

Another piece of rock art can be found in a small wooded area behind the National Trust campsite in Langdale. Although the views are now hindered somewhat by the trees, this boulder would have once afforded fantastic views towards the the Langdale Pikes once again pointing to the importance of the axe factories in these days gone by.

Boulder behind the campsite

All these sites are well worth a visit and only a few minutes walk from the road. Next time you're in the area why not pay them a visit and stand in the footsteps of prehistoric man?