Sunday, 14 September 2014

Improvements to the View Point Area, and the path at Aira Force.

Work was needed on the path leading down from the small National Trust car park on the Dockray Road to a view point close to Aira Force. The viewpoint area itself was due to be resurfaced. 

The small wooden bridge that crossed the beck was old.
 For safety reasons it was removed and a concrete pipe was put there in its place. 

Aggregate from Threlkeld Quarry was used for resurfacing 
over the pipe.

Kevin Tyson was contracted to do the excavating, and to fill the power barrows from the aggregate pile dumped at the car park...the nearest practical point. 

The power barrow on its way from the car park to the site down the steep narrow path.

Nic, explaining to interested members of the public,
about the next stage of the work. Kevin was to level out part of the area prior to it being entirely resurfaced. It was a tricky job as Kevin had to reach over the railings with the excavator arm.

A lot of concentration needed!

 Digging out the turf which the digger couldn't reach.

Power barrow coming into its own, yet again, to take the turf away in order to landscape the area around the newly installed pipe.

Resurfacing inside the viewing area.

A "wacker plate" was used to firm up and compress the new surface.

The new surface. Within a short time, it will weather to match the path surfaces elsewhere at Aira Force.

The path above the newly installed pipe.

The view, taking in Place Fell, St Sunday Crag and Glenamara Park.
(Ancient Wood Pasture) See post ...Glenamara Park... on this Blog Site.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Rhododendrons and Lancasters.

Phytophthora Ramorum is a fungus like pathogen that causes immense damage and death to many tree species.

In the United States, different strains of P. Ramorum have decimated native oak populations. The strains found in the UK have had negligible impact on oaks, but have badly infected many of the Japanese Larch tree plantations.

Evidence has shown that rhododendron acts as a host for P. Ramorum; the pathogen produces spores that are easily wind blown thus causing new infections.

P. Ramorum has been found in rhododendrons at a site on the A592 near St. Catherine's, National Trust. To reduce the risk of the pathogen spreading, all the rhododendrons at St. Catherine's are due to be cut down. The work started on Sunday 7th of September with tremendous help from the Cumbria National Trust Volunteers!

Cutting back and burning the Rhododendron Ponticum.

Pruning and clearing the outer branches to allow access for cutting the main stems with either bushman or chain saw.

Work well under way.


 and after.


Time out was taken to watch  2 Lancaster bombers fly over Windermere from the vantage point of Queen Adelaide Hill. 

Wonderful weather and a good turn out on this very special occasion.  

Majestic. The last 2 airworthy Lancasters flying together.

A Wonderful Tribute.

This special flight was organised by Robert Johnstone as a surprise for his father, Archie, who would have been 100 years old on this day. Archie was in the renowned Dambuster Squadron and sadly died in April this year.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Himalayan Balsam "Pull For A Brew" with South Cumbria Rivers Trust.

The last organised volunteer balsam pull for this  year, with South Cumbria Rivers Trust, took place at  a site near Skelwith Bridge on Saturday 30th August. Vanda and I met up with Jen at 10 am. Sadly, no one else turned up; after waiting a while, our small band set to work.

Link to South Cumbria Rivers Trust:

Invasive Himalayan Balsam at Skelwith Bridge. It readily outcompetes,
and shades out our native plants, reducing diversity, and denuding river banks of understory
 vegetation. Winter die back exposes the bare soil to erosion. 
A volunteer, working on a recent National Trust project, told me about several studies that indicated volunteering has surprising benefits for the volunteer. She summed it up: "Doing good for the community makes you feel good...and does you good!"

Because it was so late in the season, bin bags were used to contain the ripe seed pods; they would be incinerated later. Many of the pods could be heard popping inside the bag!
Cutting the stem with the seed pods ready to put in a bin bag. A single plant can produce 800 seeds and project the seeds up to 4 metres away; hence the plant can spread with phenomenal speed over a few seasons.
An awkward site. I am in a silted up drainage ditch.
Vanda, National Trust colleague,
and Jen. South Cumbria Rivers Trust. and organiser of the Himalayan Balsam pulling events.
It is easy to see why the Victorians were so taken with this plant; it was introduced to the UK in 1839. They had no idea of how invasive Himalayan Balsam would become away from its natural habitat. 
Bees find Himalayan Balsam irresistible because the flowers contain so much nectar. Bees and other insects often prefer it to native plants which means yet more Himalayan Balsam gets pollinated to the detriment of native species. This allows it to spread and become dominant over large areas very rapidly.
Bees are drawn to this invasive species. Note proboscis already extended!

Oh Yes, this is 'THE PULL FOR A BREW'. Chesters By The River, a bakery, cafĂ©, and shop, heard that a balsam pull was to take place nearby and had kindly offered in advance to treat all participants to a cream tea.


Thanks to all at Chesters.


Thursday, 28 August 2014

Aria Force....winching, walling and revetment work.


A fallen Wellingtonia tree at Aira Force needed to be winched upright in order to tidy up the root plate. 

The upturned root plate is a bit of an eyesore especially as it is so close to the popular path leading up to Aira Force.

Although most of the tree had already been cut up, enough of the trunk was left intact to allow for leverage.

Going up. Nic can be seen, centre left, manning the heavy duty winch.

With the tree upright again, and the root plate back in place, it can now be felled 
leaving a tidy stump. 

The  trunk can now be cut up and removed.
Next job is the nearby wall.


The image above is of the tumble down wall that overlooks Aira Beck. The main beam of the water heck is in the foreground.

Not the easiest kind of wall to rebuild as it consists mainly of "beck stones" which are large irregular shaped cobbles. 

Care was needed in building the coyne end; there  was a steep drop into Aira Beck to contend with!

Breaking up stone to make filler or hearting for the middle of the wall. Without sufficient filler the wall will fall in on itself.

Steve and Ray positioning one of the large coyne stones. This large stone covers the entire width of the wall and gives added strength to the wall end.

Getting close to a finish.

Job Done.

The rebuilt wall seen from the other side of Aira Beck.

An attempt at a panoramic shot from the bridge.


Some erosion had occurred on the banks of a small beck that flows into Aira Beck. Revetment work was decided upon.

Ray and Nic unloading a large boulder for the revetment.

Top soil will be put in behind the stone at a later date....

the week after in fact!

Nic bringing in more stone for the revetment wall on the other side of the beck. The power barrow proving invaluable for the work.

Top soiling.

Finishing touches the week after.

All in all a productive 2 days with plenty of opportunities to chat about the work in progress to the many interested people on their way to and from the waterfall.