Thursday, 8 June 2017

Bracken bashing at Hartsop

Back in 2014, a 'National Tree Planting Week' took place between November 29th to December 7th. 

Please click on link below for more information... 

To celebrate this event, the National Trust rangers and volunteers in Ullswater planted native trees and shrubs on a steep bracken covered slope overlooking the village of Hartsop and Brothers Water near the foot of  Kirkstone Pass.
This image is of two volunteers placing a tree tube over a newly planted tree. Over thirteen hundred trees and shrubs were planted on this slope over the week back in 2014!
Note the vast quantities of dead bracken; this indicates there is a massive rhizome/root system ready to send up many thousands of fresh bracken fronds in Spring. By Summer they can easily exceed five feet in height! 
Newly planted trees need lots of 'TLC'...for instance...

Every year in late May or early June the fast growing bracken needs to be knocked back from around the young trees. Rangers with great support from volunteer groups undertake this task; if left to grow the bracken will stifle the trees, and rob them of light and valuable nutrients. See above Image.
The most effective method seems to be to bend bracken stems over by bashing them with wooden poles; this weakens the bracken's growth for the following year. 
The bracken has been bashed back in a wide circle around the tree to give it the best chance of putting on a good growth spurt.
One of the planted oaks in its protective tree tube.
Another before...
...and after image.
Some prefer the use of "bracken slashers" to wooden poles; an encouraging sign is that natural re-gen is taking place as shown by this oak sapling!
Overlooking Hartsop before and...
...after a large area of bracken has been cleared. Bracken clearance around the trees should ideally take place twice a year between early and late Summer. Over the course of three to five years of control  work the bracken will become increasingly weak; the hope is that with the appropriate care and attention the trees will, in a relatively short time, have grown big enough to out compete the bracken.  

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Walling on Kirkstone

Kirkstone pass is the Lake Districts highest pass that is open to motor vehicles. It connects Ambleside in the Rothay Valley, to Patterdale in the Ullswater Valley. It stands at an altitude of 1,489ft (454m).



The Pass can experience all sorts of weather. From blazing sunshine in the summer, to torrential rain in the autumn and heavy snow in the winter.



Because of these extreme weather conditions the road can be very unpredictable. Throughout the year many accidents happen, some genuine mistakes, but sometimes it is because people don’t give the Pass the respect it deserves.



The National Trust try to maintain roadside walls where possible, so every couple of years a team of Rangers from the Central and East Lakes ‘try’ and pick a sunny week to repair the numerous gaps that have appeared.


This time we managed to pick the warmest week of the year. With the wall gaps identified and the ‘Stop’ ‘Go’ boards in place we could make a start.



After a long, hot, sweaty week we managed to get a lot of the wall gaps repaired.



So if you ever find yourself on Kirkstone Pass please take care and remember it’s not a race to get to the top, or bottom.

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

New Arrivals at High Lickbarrow.

The late Michael Bottomly bequeathed High Lickbarrow Farm near Windermere to the National Trust in 2015. It has 50 h of 'unimproved' land grazed by cattle only. 

Much of the land is designated as a Site of  Special Scientific Interest, (SSSI)...a conservation term denoting a protected area in the UK... as wild flowers grow abundantly under this regime and the herb rich grass lands attract a plethora of insects, butterflies and birds.
One of the steeper fields is red to purple hued in Summer owing to the sheer numbers of betony growing there. 
(See above with bumblebee in attendance)
The farm is home to a herd of rare cattle...The Scoutbeck Herd... known as Albion*.

  White Dairy Shorthorn, Welsh Black, and British Fresian cattle are thought to have been used in the original breeding of the Blue Albion in Staffordshire and Derbyshire.

The breed became official in 1921 when The Blue Albion Cattle Society was formed.

Tragically the foot and mouth epidemic of 1967 led to the extinction of the Blue Albion breed owing to a Nationwide culling programme to get the disease under control.

Since then attempts have been made to reconstitute the breed, now known simply as Albion*. The Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) are being petitioned to classify Albion cattle as a rare breed. This will ensure their status as critically endangered and will lend support for their future as a bona fide breed.
This Albion heifer was born at High Lickbarrow on the evening of the 9th of May so in this image she is barely a day old! She has the distinction of being  first in the line for the new herd mark that now exists for the National Trust making her number *****01!
This heifer was born shortly after and  so was beaten by a short head by number*****01 making her the second in the line with the number *****02!
Here she is being kept an eye on by her protective mum.

Another  fifteen calves are expected to arrive within the next few days!...
...speaking of which, here is the third...note the black and white markings.

Back in the twenties the Blue Albion Cattle Society wanted the blue roan colour to be the breed type, but as genetics was in its infancy then they did not understand that blue is not a colour that breeds "true". The breed has in fact a dominant white gene which is the "true breeding". True bred Albion may be blue-roan, white, or black with some white such as the new born calf in the image above.

Originally, the society excluded white and black Albion cattle which affected numbers and stunted growth. This had a detrimental impact on the breed for years...even after the eligibility criteria of the Blue Albion was  relaxed.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

New gates for Cockshott.

Cockshott Point, at the southern end of Bowness-on-Windermere, is an extremely popular lake-side walk along the east side of Windermere, overlooking Claife Heights and Belle Isle.
The old gates giving access to Cockshott...above and below...are inadequate for some modern mobility scooters
To allow better access for mobility scooters the old gates have recently been removed and replaced by purpose built mobility access gates.....
An angle grinder was needed to cut back the railings; in this image it was used to cut back and smooth off the old gate pins ready for new railings to be welded on at a later date.
Getting started at the northern end of Cockshott after dismantling and removing the old gates and railings.
Concreting the gate post in.
 To the left a trench has been dug to allow the mobility access gate to be installed next to the new vehicular access gate.
A close up of the self closing mechanism for the mobility access gate.
The new gates. The 10' gate is locked and is only to be used by vehicles requiring access for events on Cockshott or for maintenance purposes.
Work starting at the southern entrance.
Digging out for the framework of the mobility access gate.
The new gates and the recently resurfaced path have contributed towards making a big improvement at Cockshott.

Below are some views from Cockshott Point now more easily accessible for everyone.
A view of the Belle Isle Round House from Cockshott Point.
Belle Isle with Claife Heights in the background. This wooded area is renowned  for its variety of native tree species.             
      Looking north towards the Troutbeck Fells.
An elegant steam yacht from a bygone era southbound between Cockshott Point and Belle Isle.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Rebuilding a collapsed retaining wall at Townend farm.

This partially collapsed retaining wall forms part of the boundary for the farm yard at Townend Farm across the road from Townend in the village of Troutbeck. 
A tanker backs in here periodically to empty the septic tank that serves the historic yeoman farmer's house Townend...see image above.
The wall was built many years ago and was not constructed with the weight of a heavy lorry in mind so it finally gave way under the pressure.
For the rebuild large stones were used for the foundation course; to cope with the weight of the tanker lorry concrete was used to give the wall extra strength.
The partially rebuilt section of wall seen from above.
The completed wall... (note very heavy cap stone left of image!)...
...and the reinstated post and rail fence above the wall. (just in time for lambing season!)
An image of Townend from the path leading from the car park.
Townend has recently undergone extensive restoration work owing to the discovery of excessive wet rot in the supporting timbers. Part of one of the beams is on display in the garden!
Townend is open between 1 pm and 5 pm during the season with  house tours between 11 am and 12 noon.

Please click on the link below for more information.