Tuesday 2 April 2024

Winter work around Great Langdale and Troutbeck Park

With the start of the new year, we were back down from our path repair work on the fells and getting stuck into some lower level work around the valleys.

Starting work on the tree cages

Our first job was at Raw Head in Langdale, where we started by erecting tree cages. These were planted up with scrub saplings that when fully grown will provide excellent habitat for breeding birds.

Completed tree cage

We also built a water heck (gate over the beck) and a small section of post and rail fence at Raw Head. This completed a fenced off area next to the beck which would prevent livestock grazing. It'll be planted up with a few wet-loving tree species such as Willow and Alder.

Heck and fence

Once this was finished, we headed a little further up the valley to an area of enclosed land above Middle Fell Farm, which we'd planted up with Juniper about ten years ago.

Juniper in Great Langdale

The top side of the enclosure was in urgent need of repair as it was no longer stock proof, meaning that sheep could get in and graze on the juniper and any other trees that have naturally regenerated. The fence line had been badly damaged by rock falls and moving scree, plus many of the original fence posts had long passed their best-before-date.

Part of the damaged fence line

In areas where the scree was most mobile we replaced the damaged posts with thick strainer posts dug deeply into the scree and tightened into position. These thicker posts should last longer than ordinary fence posts and also withstand more of a battering by any moving stone. We used rails in these areas as they'd be easier to replace than wire fencing when they become damaged.

Repaired post and rail

In areas that are less likely to be damaged by moving rock we used wire fencing and normal sized posts.

Repaired strained wire fencing

There were also multiple sections of fallen dry stone wall.

Damaged section of wall

Some of the larger sections of damaged wall were fenced off and the smaller wall gaps were repaired.

Repaired wall

New wall-top fencing was then added to prevent sheep jumping onto and over the wall.

Repaired wall (from above) with new wall-top fence

Many of the original wall-top fence posts had rotted away so these were also replaced where necessary.

Repairing the wall-top fence on another wet day

The whole section ran for about 500 metres and we managed to stock-proof the whole area. Although it's likely that many of the original wall-top posts are on borrowed time and will need replacing in the next few years.

Fresh section of post and wire fencing

We also spent a few weeks at Troutbeck Park building a wire tree exclosure and some tree cages. Again, this will help improve biodiversity in the area.

Livestock exclosure at Troutbeck Park

The area where we were working was rich in history, with people having been settled there since prehistoric times. Several old charcoal burning platforms were obvious as well as a post-medieval clapper bridge (probably at least as old as the 17th century) that we passed over each day to get to the worksite.

Clapper bridge

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