Monday, 24 August 2015

New Heck

A new Heck* is to replace the existing one on the Troutbeck, north of Windermere in the Troutbeck valley. This is part of a major environmental project to improve the land and especially to recreate wood pasture.
 Logistically it's tough being over half an hour from the farm, so the old hanging beam (pipe) was deemed to be OK. Unfortunately the walls that held it were not, and had to be repaired and the beam repositioned.

The original heck in disrepair.
Repairing the wall on the west side.

New parts arriving.

And old ones leaving.

The finished Heck.

*Heck (dialect) the lower part of a door; a grating,esp in rivers or streams; a rack for animal fodder or drying cheeses. Old English hec/haec  grating, hatch; Dutch hek  a gate.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Wall rebuild on the Dubbs Road.

Dubbs Road, a popular bridleway, leads on to the Garburn Road linking Troutbeck, Kentmere and Stavely.

Part of  the wall - bordering the Dubbs road (bridleway) next to a ladder stile - had become very unstable. The wall is over nine feet high in places and looks much taller as it is built on a steep bank.

  Its height and instability meant it was too dangerous to take the wall down progressively (as is usually the case). To make it safer, the bad section of wall was "allowed"to collapse completely, with just a little help...minimal encouragement was needed!



The wall was built from local Applethwaite Quarry stone. This stone is  notorious for its poor quality. It is prone to frost damage and disintegrates surprisingly quickly. 

Water gets into the cracks of the stones; in a frost the water expands and ice  forces the cracks to become wider and wider over time.

In this close-up image of a wall built from Applethwaite stone, it is clear that some stones are crumbling away; the stones above have sagged and this section of wall, like the one above, is on the brink of collapse.

With the fun bit over, the stones were cleared back in order to dig out for the foundations or footing stones; this image gives some idea of how steep the bank is we had to work on.

The foundations are in place and the wall is now being rebuilt. 

Luckily, we recently put in a new entrance through a woodland wall at St.Catherine's to allow for timber extraction. The surplus stone  was brought in for this rebuild as so much of the original walling stone had disintegrated.

The stones are 'tied into' or overlapped into  the sound part of the wall that is under the ladder stile in this image. 

Once a certain height was reached, stone was carried up the ladder stile and walled 'overhand' from the high to the low side.

The finished wall repair from the high side...

...and the low or track side.

And just a reminder of what it did look like!

A view from the ladder stile, Troutbeck valley and village.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

International Rangers Day

To celebrate International Ranger Day - 31st July, the National Trust gathered its countryside staff alongside colleagues and peers from organisations such as Natural England, Cumbria Rivers Trust and United Utilities for a conference held at University of Cumbria's Ambleside campus.

International Ranger Day is an initiative of the International Union for Conservation (IUCN) and International Ranger Federation (IRF) which invites everyone to acknowledge the work done by Rangers in protecting our precious natural and cultural heritage.

Keynote speaker at the event was Gordon Miller from the IRF, who described the challenges faced by Rangers around the world working in Protected Areas.  He described the ever- increasing threats including poaching, encroachment on protected area and that rangers in the field often pay the ultimate price for their devotion to the task.

Gordon said of the event: “This past 12 months has seen over 50 rangers from 20 countries lose their lives to poachers, from others threatening their parks and accidents. Most losses are from homicide and others from accidents that illustrate the often hazardous environment that they face, particularly in developing countries.

“World Ranger Day gives us an opportunity to pay homage to those who have perished and urge governments to 'protect the protectors'.  The dedication of rangers, particularly in the developing world, deserves our gratitude if our precious protected areas are to remain havens for our diminishing natural and cultural assets.”  

Protected Areas – national parks, wilderness areas, community-conserved areas, nature reserves and so on – are a mainstay of biodiversity conservation, while also contributing to people’s livelihoods, particularly at the local level. Protected areas are at the core of efforts towards conserving nature and the services it provides us – food, clean water supply, medicines and protection from the impacts of natural disasters.

Sam Stalker, Lead Ranger for the National Trust in the western Lake District, and event organiser said:  “Opportunities for Rangers to get together and share their professional knowledge are few and far between – we’re almost always out in the landscape we love. Days like this give us a rare chance to share our conservation knowledge. “

The Ambleside celebration also included the announcement that the National Trust has become a corporate member of the Countryside Management Association. Sam added:

Membership of the Countryside Management Association strengthens the professional Ranger network both within the National Trust and with our colleagues elsewhere. It means we have a whole new network of Ranger colleagues to learn from and share best practice with.  We have chosen International Ranger Day to launch this membership, because it is a day for Rangers to come together as global profession and our membership builds links at a local, national and international level.

For more information about the International Rangers Federation and how you can get involved please visit their website at 

For an interesting look at International Ranger Day in Thailand, please click here to see a blog post from the IUCN

For more information about the Countryside Management association please visit their website at