Monday, 26 June 2017

Starting the path at Hole in the Wall and the Fix the Fells 10th anniversary work party

Since our last blog post we've spent much of our time working in Ullswater on the path just below Hole in the Wall. Building a stone path is never fast work and we reckon to build around 1 metre of path per person, per day. This generally depends on what the digging is like, the weather conditions and the amount of people using the path.

 Bottom section before starting work on the path

The digging has, so far, been pretty good, we're not pulling too many large stones out of the ground and there's been no sign of any bedrock (which often has to be chipped out before we can lay the path). We've had both really hot and really wet weather over the last few weeks but only for a few days here and there, so nothing really out of the norm. We've also had one or two really busy days, but the worksite is easy to keep safe and there is plenty of room for people to get past. So, apart from a little extra time spent explaining about our work, it hasn't really affected things too much either.

 After a few days work

As this path does get really busy at times (we're expecting lots more walkers during the summer holidays if we get some good weather) we're building the path a little wider than normal. Because of the extra width, we're maybe averaging a little under a metre a day at present.

 The path starting to take shape

After just over a month, we're now reaching the point where we're starting to join sections of the path together before we leap-frog each other and start work again further up the path.
Almost ready to join two sections

With the sections joined, it's time to start filling in all the gaps with some of the soil that's been dug out. There's still plenty of landscaping work to do on this section but it's really starting to look like a footpath now.

After filling in the gaps

Last weekend was the tenth anniversary of the Fix the Fells partnership. As part of the celebrations, there were work parties taking place throughout the weekend up on Tongue Gill, near Grasmere. The work was part of a project that the South Lakes upland rangers are working on, and we went to help out on the Friday. Around sixty volunteers and various people from the Fix the Fells partnership organisations turned out to repair the path that had been damaged during the Storm Desmond floods. Although the weather wasn't the best we still got plenty done and everyone appeared to enjoy the day.

Volunteers at work in the rain

Monday, 15 May 2017

Helicopter lifts and starting work at Hole in the Wall

With just a few days left to spare before the helicopter lifts, we managed to fill the last of the 325 heli-bags with stone that we need for this years upland path repairs. This gave us enough time to put out the warning signs and make sure we were fully prepared.

The first lift, over in Ullswater, was the larger of the two jobs. The bags were flown straight across Grisedale valley to the path leading up to Hole in the Wall. Although the weather conditions were tricky due to the constantly changing wind direction, we managed to get all 260 bags over to the work site in three days.

 Moving the stone to site

The next week we started work on the path. The first job was to unload just over half of the bags and move the stones a few metres down the path to exactly where the path would start.

Moving the rock into position

After a couple of days we had the bags emptied and the stone where we wanted it.

The emptied bags

With the bags emptied it was time to start building the path. We've recently been joined by a new team member, Jonny, who previously worked for the National Trust in North Yorkshire. Since he's never done stone pitching before, Pete gave him some one on one tuition for a couple of days to help bring him up to speed. After being taught the basics of what to do, it'll be just a matter of lots (and lots...) of practice and the rest of the team being on hand for when any help or advice is needed.

Jonny starting to get to grips with stone pitching

After a few days of working up at Hole in the Wall, it was time to get the rock moved for the path repairs on Stone Arthur. With perfect weather conditions we managed to get all 65 bags moved to position in less than five hours. We'll be starting the repair work on Stone Arthur late summer/early autumn time.

Moving the bags on Stone Arthur

Friday, 7 April 2017

Getting ready for the helicopter lifts

It's that time of year again when we start getting ready for another season of repairing upland footpaths.

This year we're working on two paths that were damaged during the Storm Desmond floods in 2015. The larger of the two projects is at Hole in the Wall overlooking Grisedale valley, for this job we've been filling 260 bags with rock that we'll use for stone pitching and drainage work. The rock has been gathered on the opposite side of the valley and will be flown by helicopter to site.

Bagging rock in Grisedale

Our second job is on the path leading up to Stone Arthur, just outside Grasmere. This will require an additional 65 bags of stone that will be gathered around Greenhead Gill.

The helicopter lifts are due to take place at Hole in the Wall on 26th and 27th April and at Stone Arthur on 28th April, but there's a chance this will change particularly if the weather isn't suitable for flying. The paths will remain open during the heli-lifts but there is a possibility of delays, if you're in the area please take advice from the onsite marshals.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Building a stone ford at Low Hag Wood

Since the start of the new year we've spent much of our time carrying out flood prevention work at Low Hag Wood, Windermere. Low Hag Wood originally formed part of the gardens at St. Catherine's Estate. You can read more about the history of St. Catherine's here... Link

We have been making path improvements to help manage any flooding of Wynlass Beck such as that which occurred during Storm Desmond in 2015. During the storm there was so much water in the beck that it caused a large pipe, designed to take the beck under the path, to back up. The water was then pushed down the path and damaged fields, properties and the track-ways below.

The pipe before starting work

To prevent this occurring again it was decided that we'd build a stone ford that would take any excess flood water over the top of the pipe and back into the beck.

The first job was to select suitable rock from the surrounding woodland and collect it in our power barrow.

Unloading the first barrow load

Once we'd gathered enough rock to keep us going we began to construct the stone ford.

Ready to start the job

We used large rocks raised out of the ground to create the edge of the ford, using large stone meant there would be plenty of height difference between the the top of the ford and the pipe.

Checking the levels

After a few weeks we had gathered enough rock, and put them into position, to create the frame for our stone ford.

 The completed frame

With all the edging stones in place we started to fill in the sections leading out from the pipe. These were built at an incline to help prevent water flowing out and over the top of the ford.

 Building the middle section of the ford

Once the stones had been laid for the middle section the next job was to cover over the pipe. As this would take the full force of the water, and we'd had to use smaller stone to keep the extra height above the top of the pipe as low as possible, we used cement to prevent the stonework being damaged.

 Pipe before starting the stonework

The stone was built in courses following the line of the pipe,

Close-up of the concealed pipe

Once all the stonework was completed we filled all the gaps with soil to help everything blend in a little better.

 The finished pipe section

With the top of the ford being about knee-height above the original ground level we needed to form a ramp up to this new height. We again collected some large stones to form the edge of the ramp and started to fill in the ramp with surplus rock.

The first side completed

With both edges complete we covered over the rock with soil that we'd dug out during the work as it had a high proportion of gravel which compacted well to form a good surface.

The finished section of path

Thursday, 2 February 2017

We're Recruiting!


If you've ever fancied the Lake District fells as your office here's your chance to live the dream... *

We are currently recruiting for a fixed-term, until 1st April 2019, Assistant Ranger (Uplands) here with us in the Central and Eastern Lakes.

Click here https://careers.nationaltrust.org.uk (Central Lakes) for further details and to apply (update: now closed).

Two positions, one fixed-term, one permanent, are also available with the North Lakes team, link here... https://careers.nationaltrust.org.uk (North Lakes) (update: now closed).

*Note: Good weather can not be guaranteed.