Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Working with volunteers on Gowbarrow

Over the course of the year we've spent a fair amount of time repairing the path up on Gowbarrow in Ullswater, and to help us achieve this work we've had fantastic support from numerous volunteer groups.

Although the path had previously been worked on a few years back, those sections that have been left had really started to worsen. You can see here just how bad the path was getting, with bare sections of peat which were steadliy getting wider and wider.

After some consideration on what would be the best method to repair the path we decided we needed additional materials as there was little suitable rock on site. So earlier this year several tonnes of gravel and rock was delivered to a nearby site and we filled the bags.

With the bags all filled, the next job was to get it up to Gowbarrow. A helicopter was used to fly it in, with the bags dropped near to the most eroded areas.

With the bags now in position we arranged our first work party. A group of Fix the Fells volunteers came out with us for a couple of days. Our job was basically to dig a shallow trench through the peat and fill it with the gravel from the bags to create a hard surface for walking on.

The next group to help us was from the Environment Agency's North West team. Once again we struck lucky with the weather and by the end of the day we'd completed another good section of path.

Shortly after this we were joined by a National Trust Working Holiday for a week. The section that we were working on is shown to the left. We decided to move the path from it's original location (in the first picture above) higher up the bank. We did this as the line was less undulating and so the new path will be more sustainable and less likely to erode at a later date.

So we set to work. Although it always seems wrong putting a path through an untouched area, given a bit of time the original path will green over and, in this instance, eventually the heather will return and nobody will be any the wiser.

Due to the close proximity of the crag, the bags had to be dropped a fair distance away from the new path.
To overcome this we filled buckets with gravel and created a chain of people moving it to where it was needed.

After a few days the new path was really starting to take shape.

To help make the path more durable we used a whacker-plate to compress the surface.

Our next group of volunteers were school children aged 10 & 11 and accompanied by the Field Studies Council. They joined us for an afternoon to help them understand the impact that visitors to the Lake District have on the environment.Though only with us for a few hours they managed to get another decent section of path completed and also seemed to have great fun doing it.

As there was still a bit more work to do on the section, we arranged another Fix the Fells work party to finish off where we'd started with the school group.

Word had obviously spread from the Environment Agency about our work up on Gowbarrow, and later on in the year we were joined by another group, again from the North West.

Even though the weather had noticeably started to deteriorate since earlier in the year, we completed another good section of path.

With the days now shortening we had one more day to finish our work for the year. We were again joined by the Fix the Fells lengthsmen with numbers bolstered by staff from the Lake District National Park Authority, including Richard Leafe, the Chief Executive.
We had some more resurfacing work to do and also a large side drain that needed to be dug out.
It's really been a fantastic team effort to get this work done but there's still plenty more to be done. We'll be back working on Gowbarrow again next year for Phase 2, so maybe we'll see some familiar faces again then.

Over the course of the year we clocked up an amazing 162 volunteer days. Although we said it at the time we'd really like to reiterate how thankful we are for everybody's help. The work on Gowbarrow is incredibly labour intensive and there's no way we could have completed it without all the additional help. Thank you.

A few more photographs from our time on Gowbarrow can also be seen here... Gowbarrow photographs.

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