Friday, 1 August 2014

Cycling's for everyone with the National Trust in the Lake District

National Trust staff in the Lakes jump on their bikes to launch a brand new cycle trail in Langdale.

The event saw the official opening of a new 5 mile cycle route to Langdale, supported by the £6.9million GoLakes Travel programme. Virtually all off-road, it expands the cycling network around the northern end of Windermere and complements other recent two-wheeled developments including the gentle western shore route and the newly introduced 'bike boat'.
It was a great day - the merry band of cyclists took in Ambleside and Skelwith Bridge before riding through to Elterwater and onto the Langdale Valley. The beautiful scenery and thoughts of a pub lunch at Sticklebarn at the end of the ride kept everyone moving along the 5 mile route.

David Robinson, Access and Recreation Developer with the Lake District National Park Authority, said: "What a fantastic way to celebrate the work we've done through the GoLakes Travel Programme to open up Langdale for leisure cycling. Before the new trail, people couldn't really cycle along the scenic route between Elterwater and Dungeon Ghyll without either having a mountain bike or going on the road, so this is a great, way for people to safely cycle one of the Lake District's most iconic valleys."

Among the intrepid cyclists was Neil Winder, Ranger for the Langdale Valley, who cut the ribbon to officially open the trail. He said: "This route's got the lot - wonderful woodland, lakeshore and the dramatic Langdale fells - and it's traffic-free. Leaving the car behind is good for your health, a great day out for the kids and fewer car journeys are brilliant for keeping the Lakes special, for ever, for everyone."

Skelwith Meadows
Langdale old road heading to Stickle Barn

Click the link below to see one young man all smiles in Langdale.


Friday, 25 July 2014

Replacing the water hecks at Holbeck Ghyll.

National Trust woodland at Holbeck Ghyll is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, (SSSI) denoting a protected area in the Uk.

This site is noted for its geological features, and the fossils that are to be  found here.

The water hecks, designed to keep livestock out of this SSSI, are clearly the worse for wear and due for replacement.


The heck at the top of the woodland held together with twine!
An old disused Hogg House overlooks the top heck. This derelict building was, at one time, used to protect hoggs ( 9 to 18 month old sheep) over the winter months; a hayloft was  above the floor where the sheep were housed.
With the old heck removed, construction for the replacement can begin.
A heck of an improvement.
The first heck completed.


The heck at the bottom of the woodland...has definitely seen better days!
Cutting through the old beam on the lower heck.
Bringing up more materials...a time consuming part of the work. A fair distance up to the site was inaccessible to the works 4 wheel drive....
 Taking away the rotten, scrap wood.
A well seasoned birch log, (approx 20') with the bark stripped off and treated with wood preserver stain, is used for the main beam.
Constructing the heck. It is designed to swing forward when the water levels rise and swing back when the levels fall. All the while it should be stock proof. 
The second heck completed.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Ongoing Touch Me Not Balsam and Netted Carpet Moth conservation at Millerground and Parson Wyke.

Pulling out brambles at two National Trust sites has given a much needed boost to the numbers of a scarce annual native plant known as Touch Me Not Balsam. Its main stronghold is in the Lake District but in quite limited numbers.
Pulling out brambles at Parson Wyke. Disturbing the ground and reducing competition from brambles will hopefully allow more Touch Me Not seeds to germinate in the Spring.

An image of the site at Parson Wyke this impressive stand of Touch Me Not where brambles were once dominant.
A close up of one of the flowers.
Volunteers help to pull out and cut back brambles at Millerground in March. This has had the  benefit of allowing 2200 bluebells to be planted; when their season is  over, Touch Me Not should appear in greater numbers in late spring.
Success with the Bluebells at Millerground....
and later on with the Touch Me Not!
As mentioned in previous posts, Touch Me Not is the only food source for one of the rarest moths in the UK....The Netted Carpet Moth; its caterpillars (see image) are utterly reliant on this plant. 

Good numbers of plants are needed to maintain annual moth populations.
A Netted Carpet Moth spotted on July 11th. These moths were extensively collected by Victorians; for quite some time the moths were thought to be extinct from the 1900's up until it was "rediscovered" in the 1940's at a site near Windermere.

Invasive Plant Problems.

At Millerground invasive non native Himalayan Balsam is a constant threat. It is pulled out regularly to prevent it from displacing the Touch Me Not plants.

Pendulous sedge grass {Carex Pendula} is spreading at an alarming rate and is starting to take over some of the Touch Me Not sites... at Millerground in particular. It likes similar conditions. ie damp shady woodlands.
A small Touch Me Not almost smothered by Carex Pendula; it is sometimes referred to as a "Thug Plant" because it is potentially highly invasive.
White Butterbur, a perennial introduced from Central Europe, is also becoming increasingly invasive at Millerground and is rapidly displacing Native flora as it spreads. 
 There was once a flourishing Touch Me Not stand here two years ago; now just a single plant grows on the outer edge of the massed ranks of Butterbur.

A concerted effort will be made to deal with these invasive plants; otherwise there is a major risk that some Touch Me Not stands will become completely overrun.
Only when invasive plants are kept in check are the Annual Touch Me Not stands able to flourish. ( see image of a stand free of invasives  at Millerground above)

Monday, 7 July 2014

Wood-Collier Weekender

*** Bookings Now Being Taken! ***


2-3 August, £75 per person


"The experience of a lifetime!"

Spend a weekend in Common Wood near Windermere and live the life of a charcoal maker and woodsman. Camp under the trees, eat off a locally made charcoal BBQ and learn about the traditional ways to make charcoal and look after beautiful woodlands.

Booking is essential, please call Ben on 07881 856459 or email for more details and booking information. Places are limited so please act fast!

Charcoal burns in progress; in the most beautiful of settings. You have the opportunity to be here too!
Ben Knipe
Woodland Ranger

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Animal Antics, and a bit of work.

An awkward wall gap between National Trust Common Farm  and Near Orrest Farm.
A large hazel growing through the wall. The tree swaying in the wind probably caused the wall to collapse.
 The tree was taken down with a chain saw and the wall was then rebuilt.
The rebuilt wall.
The farmer at Common Farm (unhappily) told us that sheep from a neighbouring farm had learnt  how to gain access to her hay meadow by using the stone step stile on a public right of way.
A case of the grass being greener and tastier on the other side.
Meanwhile, back at St. Catherine's, the Touch Me Not Balsam was looking parched; the recent long dry spell was affecting some of the plants quite badly as they are very shallow rooted. While they were being watered, Border Collie Blue decided it would be fun to get involved. 


Saturday, 28 June 2014

The last full week in June. Variety is the spice....


On Monday the first job was to clear up litter from Windermere's lake shore after a weekend of sunny weather; the image above was taken at Millerground. Cockshott Point and Jenkyn's field are other lake shore properties that are regularly patrolled by Central and East Lakes countryside rangers. 

Millerground Gates. 

The oak gates to Millerground were not looking at their best. The fittings were ready for a repaint as well.
The gates were sanded down..
treated to some teak oil..
and the fittings including the hinges and gate catch repainted.

Wall by the path to Stickle Ghyll.

Part of the wall, particularly the coyne end by the gate, was ready for a rebuild; the image above shows the wall in the process of being taken down prior to rebuilding it.
Rebuilding well underway. Very cramped worksite.
Work was frequently interrupted by the many visitors using the path. Good opportunities to engage! This school group are on their way back from ghyll scrambling.

The rebuilt section of wall finally completed!
Image of coyne end from the other side, next to the viewing area for the bird feeding station.

Invasive Species Control.

The rare Touch Me Not balsam stands ..the only balsam native to the UK... are constantly under threat from the highly invasive Himalayan Balsam..(the larger plants in the image above). If left unchecked they will encroach more and more on the native plants and take their place.

 Touch Me Not Balsam is the only food source for the rare Netted Carpet Moth caterpillars...see post To Conserve and Protect! on this blog site.
The pink flower of the Himalayan Balsam.
The yellow flower of the Touch Me Not Balsam.
Himalayan Balsam pulled out from the vicinity of the Touch Me Not Balsam stand.
Netted Carpet Moth...usually on the wing between July until mid to late August.

Watering the trees at Troutbeck Park Farm.

The trees, especially the oaks, planted earlier this year as part of the project to enhance the wood pasture at Troutbeck Park Farm have struggled to come into leaf; the protracted dry spell is probably at the root of the problem. Regular watering of the trees is now taking place and thankfully leaves are now beginning to appear.
Water containers are filled up from Troutbeck itself and taken up by vehicle as far as possible to where the trees are. This process is surprisingly time consuming as the trees are widely spaced apart and need a lot of water at this critical stage of their development.

All in all a fairly crowded week!