Monday, 3 June 2019

Working on the footpath up to Boredale Hause

Since our last blog post we've been busily working alongside the South Lakes team at Boredale Hause.

Last year we completed work on the bridleway that leads up to Boredale and now in the second year of the project we're working on the footpath that runs parallel to, and just below, the bridleway.

 Starting work midway up the footpath

 Completed section of path

We started midway up the footpath with the South Lakes team working on a section of path further down the hill.

 Stone on site and ready to begin work

Completed footpath after landscaping

As usual each team member worked on approximately a ten metre stretch and when completed leapfrogged over the person above them to advance further up the path.

 Starting work on another section

Completed path

The lower sections of the footpath were surprisingly easy digging for a change so we advanced fairly quickly.

 Work begins on a new section

 Getting further up the path

 Newly landscaped path

As we got higher up the path we started to hit more bedrock, rubble and solid ground which has hindered progress a little but we're still making good headway. We're hoping that in two or three weeks we'll have the rest of the footpath completed and landscaped.

 Pile of rock ready to be dug in

 Advancing up the path

Another completed section of footpath

We've had a fair amount of dry weather since starting work in early April so a lot of the turfs are a little parched and the grass seed is taking it's time to grow but the recent rain we've had should hopefully help remedy things.

Monday, 8 April 2019

Bridge repairs at St. Catherine's, Windermere.

As part of our low-level winter work we've spent some time over in Windermere repairing a couple of wooden bridges at St. Catherine's.

Bridge before repairs

As you can see in the photograph above the bridges were in quite a poor state and had already undergone several temporary repairs but it was now time to give them a new lease of life.

Removing any old nails

The first job was to remove the old treads, while taking off the treads many of the nails were left in the beams so we removed the tops with an angle grinder.

Replacing the treads

Since the beams were in a decent condition they were left in place and the new Larch treads were nailed onto the old beams.

Making sure the bridge is always passable

The new bridges are not on a public right of way and will mostly be used for forestry and farming operations. But since they are also used by people walking around the estate at St. Catherine's we made sure that the bridges were always passable removing only a few treads at a time and replacing them as we went along.

Treads replaced and walled up

Once the treads were in position we trimmed them all off using a circular saw and tidied up the dry stone revetments either side of the bridge. This would allow us to gravel up to the bridge and remove the lip between path and bridge.

 Fixing the uprights in place

Once the path had been gravelled up to the bridge a non-slip surface was attached to the bridge.

Attaching the rails

A section of tread was removed to allow each of the uprights to sit flush against the outer beam so they could be bolted into place. The final job was to attach the handrails to the uprights. 

You can see a couple of before and after photos of the second bridge below.

Second bridge just after starting repair work

Completed second bridge with new section of wall

The repaired bridges, with new thicker treads, should now safely support any heavy vehicles passing over them as well as provide better access to anyone wandering around the estate. 

Friday, 15 March 2019

Fencing at High Lickbarrow Farm, Windermere.

Over the last few weeks we've been working over at High Lickbarrow Farm in Windermere putting in around 400 metres of stock proof fencing.

High Lickbarrow farm was bequeathed to the National Trust in 2015 and is home to the rare Albion cattle, formerly known as "Blue" Albions.  The Albion has recently been recognised as a UK native rare breed and added to the Rare Breeds Survival Trust's watchlist because of its rarity. High Lickbarrow Farm supports the largest herd in the country.

Blue Albion cattle at High Lickbarrow

The farm covers fifty hectares of land which has traditionally been grazed by only a small number of cattle and supports some fantastic wildflower rich pastures, much of which has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI).

 Knocking in the straining posts

Our first job was to get the straining posts into position. Usually this is done by hand and one person can generally dig in and tighten into position, two posts each day. As the fence line was so long and undulating, it meant there were a lot of straining posts to put in. Luckily, as the farm provided good access, we were able to speed the job along by getting a local contractor to come in with a tractor mounted post knocker and the whole lot were in place in less than a day.

 Adding the struts

With the strainers in place, a single length of plain wire is attached between each post. This gives a straight line to help align the struts and fence posts. Struts are added to prevent the straining posts from moving while the wire is being tensioned. With these in place we then knocked in fence posts every two metres between the straining posts.

 Adding the stock fencing

Once all the struts and posts were in position it was time to attach the stock fencing. This is connected between straining posts and tightened to the required tension using two pairs of "monkey strainers".

 Attaching the barbed wire

With all the stock fencing completed the next job was to add a single strand of barbed wire.

 Section of post and rail fence

To make sure the fence was completely stock proof we added sections of post and rail fencing between straining posts and other boundaries such as dry stone walls or hedges (as shown in the photograph above).

 Starting work on the gate

To finish off we incorporated a gate into the fence line to further improve access.

Finished gate

You can learn more about Albion cattle by clicking on the link here... Albion Cattle Society 

Monday, 4 February 2019

Wall repairs and deer exclosure at High Close estate

Since the new year, we've come down from the upper fells and have started doing some estate work around the valley.

Our first job was to repair a couple of sections of dry stone wall at Low Wood, on the High Close estate just outside Grasmere.

 Section 1 before starting work

With the wall keeping livestock out of Low Wood, it was important that the gaps were repaired quickly to prevent sheep from entering the woodland. This helps both keep the tenant farmer happy and also stops sheep entering the woodland and nibbling away at early woodland flowers such as Snowdrops and Lesser Celandine.

 Section 1 after repairs

As a small Ash tree was growing close to the wall, and was likely the cause of it falling down, we decided that the tree should be removed to prevent any further damage.

 Rear of Section 1 during work

Trees growing close to a dry stone wall can often destabilise it, especially during strong winds, either by brushing against the wall and loosening stones or by the root plate moving and damaging the wall from below.

 Rear of Section 1 after, with tree stump in foreground

Removing trees like this can also be beneficial by allowing more light into the woodland, which helps woodland flowers to flourish and also gives other trees more space to grow.

 Section 2 before starting work

The second section that we worked on was more pre-emptive as it had started to lose stones from half way down the wall and would likely collapse in the short term. The wall was stripped back beyond the area of collapse to where the wall was more stable and  repaired in the usual manner. Both wall gaps took roughly a day to repair.

 Section 2 after repairs

Our next job was to build a deer exclosure in a small woodland on the edge of Loughrigg Common. The area, known as Billy Plantation, had recently been thinned and as a bit of a trial we've put up a couple of deer exclosures to see how the woodland develops without any grazing pressure. If the trials go well we may look into stock proofing the whole plantation at a later date.

Erecting the deer fence on Loughrigg