Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Ready, steady, grow!

It's so much nicer being out of doors if the sun is out too! Wordsworth House and Garden is getting ready for opening and that includes getting ready for the return of the hens. A great many barrow loads of wood chippings were transported to the hen run by gardener Amanda and three of the garden volunteers. It was a beautiful bright day and although it started cold we soon warmed up!

The garden has not yet come back into life, but it shouldn't be long  if this bright sun continues.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Volunteer Open Days, Sat 16 & Tue 19 February

Do you fancy meeting & talking to people in the beautiful Lakes valleys of Buttermere and Borrowdale?

We're holding two open days where you can drop in any time between 11am - 3pm to meet friendly staff and volunteers and find out about our new volunteering opportunities.
Meet new people in the great outdoors through volunteering with us
We're launching a new visitor research project this year, to get to know better the visitors who enjoy the countryside we care for, find out what makes them tick, and find out how we can improve their day out in the great outdoors. With no clip-boards in sight, this is a great project for people who want to spend time outdoors in beautiful settings, and who enjoy talking to people and finding out more about their views.

We also have opportunities in our new enlarged shop & visitor information point on Derwent Water, opportunities in our Volunteer Support Team, helping to improve communication among all the small groups of people who volunteer with us from Keswick to Whitehaven. For the less outdoorsy among you, we also have opportunities at Wordsworth House & Garden, in the house, cafe, shop and in the garden.

We hope you'll drop in to see us. To find out more about the opportunities, type your postcode in here to see a list of opportunities near where you live - Find an Opportunity with the National Trust

The dates and venues of the open days are:
  • Sat 16 February, Theatre by the Lake, Keswick, 11am-3pm
  • Tue 19 February, Wordsworth House & Garden, 11am-3pm

Monday, 17 December 2012

Open all hours? Well not really,but the shop at Wordsworth House and Gardens is doing a good few extra hours. It has been policy to open (Tuesday to Saturday)up to Christmas and into the new year. The shop's poition in the centre of the town is useful for attracting passing custom and also volunteers - although shop manager, Sian Lawson has only two in the shop perhaps because the till is a worry to people. (I can sympathise with this, having had experience of a till in another place I volunteer!) However Sian does have the distinction of an impressively young volunteer. Tom is now sixteen but started at fifteen. The shop sells plenty of National Trust products but also tries to stock locally produced items. A special features has been the Christams hampers created to be s old in the shop. They have been a great success - but if you want one you will have to be quick as they have been selling very well! Ros Earthy.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Behind you!

Beware of witches, ghosts, boggerts and other nasties in Ennerdale! On Halloween three plucky staff and two volunteers braved the weather and anything else that might be about to attack them to undertake a spooky story walk in Wild Ennerdale.

Thirty adults and children made witches' broomsticks, (thanks to the rangers' team for providing the necessary birch brash) carved pumpkins and heard stories about the supernatural happenings of the area. Despite the seasonal weather with a special Halloween severe weather warning, everyone enjoyed themselves and rated the event a great success.

Earlier in the year I had  attended a story-telling workshop. (See my post for 3rd of April)  I was therefore really pleased to get a chance to try my new skills out on some people other than the family! This was my first attempt to 'perform' to an audience of strangers but I found it very enjoyable. I used one well known story (the Claife Crier) , one which I had develped myself from a reference in a  Lake District guide book to a ghostly pony with a coffin tied to its back which can be seen on one of the coffin paths, and one which I cheekily re-located from Cornwall.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Joint Effort - National Trust - Fix the Fells and Newlands Adventure Centre

There are a lot of paths to maintain and repair in and around the North Lakes Property and Lake District in general. Whilst the NT has Upland Footpath Rangers and now is the main partner in the Fix the Fells programme we sometimes have help from the public as well as the busy Fix the Fells volunteers. For public on this day read Newlands Adventure Centre Stair. For the second year the staff at the adventure centre wanted to help maintain the paths they use for their core business - out door adventure.

A joint work party was organised and led by the NT Rangers Joe, Dan and Jack together with staff from Newlands and Fix the Fells volunteers.

Start of the day a mixture of staff, FtFells volunteers and NT staff ready for the off.

The aim of the day was to complete the circuit of three nearby routes on Cat Bells and clean out 60 stone lined drains, sweep 400 metres of pitching (stone built steps) over a distance of 9 kilometres. The weather was kind to us, warm and sunny with a slight breeze.

Hard at it Brushes, spades and mattocks on Skelgill Bank

As usual on Cat Bells it was busy with walkers and families taking on what Alfred Wainright described as a family fell. There was a lot of engagement with the public about what we were up to with many comments of  "I thought the path had been swept and now I know who by thank you!"

The view from Skelgill Bank back towards Keswick

After a short break for tea and or coffee we continued on upwards to the summit where we stopped for lunch in an area out of the by now not forecast and picking up wind. The statutory picture was taken of the combined group of Fell Fixers.

Smiles all round, NT Rangers FtFells volunteers and Newlands staff with Newlands Valley in the back ground

Suitably refreshed we set off with another task in mind. We had been asked to take down the unofficial and not mapped cairns that had been built up by passing walkers over the years. No problem we thought. We had forgotten how large they had become by taking stone from the path to build them.

Cairn, what cairn - this one was huge and on a clearly defined path. It took over an hour to recycle it back to the path.

The footprint of the former cairn can clearly be seen to the right of the picture. Some upland seed mix will be applied to help the area return to grass. Interestingly apart from the usual hidden bags of dog poo and litter at the bottom of the cairn was a drinks can with an expiry date of November 1999 perhaps the start of the cairn?

A good day was had by all with many thanks going to Newlands Adventure Centre Stair for gifting a days hard graft by some of their staff for the benefit of all who use the paths on and around Cat Bells.

The best 4 x 4 by far - perhaps not?

It was a great day, weather was going to be kind to us as the intrepid four volunteers Phil, David, Jim and supervisor Mr T aka Theo the collie set off to Dunthwaite Estate nr Cockermouth to repair and refurbish stiles for the fishermen by the river Cocker - what could possibly go wrong! We took with us the countryside team Land Rover and trailer with sufficient supplies to see us through our proposed work.

Well it`s like this!

We may have a little problem?

Having repaired and built some new stiles it was time to leave. Sadly our transport and trailer had other ideas. So it was unhitch the trailer and extracate the Landy from the mud.

Trailer off but still stuck!

Fortunately we had some wood left plus shovels to assist in getting us out of the mud. We were not going to be beaten by the mud as the Rangers had done on several occasions previously and call upon the services of the nearby NT tenant farmer and his tractor.

Getting there.

Apart from repairing an building stiles we ended up landscaping as well to remove the evidence of us being stuck. Don`t worry we subsequently found a use for the lifesaving timber we had used to free ourselves.

A strategically place branch hides the identity of Phil as we set about landscaping the ruts!

To be perfectly fair to the Land Rover the previous week the Nissan off roader had also been stuck on an incline nearby on solid ground - it could not pull itself and a trailer up a small wet incline. Wagon first then tow the trailer on a rope - just a normal day volunteering?

Mind you it would have helped if the land Rover was equipped with mud tyres and not road ones -  countryside vehicle road tyres - now where is my volunteer manager!

Just to show we could get anything stuck - Nissan defeated by solid wet ground and a trailer!

Will we come back for more - of course we will. Positive feedback from the fishermen that pay a hefty premium to the NT who own the fishing rights on that stretch of the river were good. Sort of made it worthwhile. (the fees for fishing rights go back into the North Lakes property towards the cost of all the conservation works we undertake)

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Bringing in the (under-age) punters!

On Sunday 2nd of September I joined John at Loweswater Show on the National Trust stand. This was a new experience for me because although I have visited the show before it has always been as an exhibitor.
This time we were offering activities for children - badge making and 'angry birds'.  Badge making is self-expanatory; 'angry birds' consisted of four toy birds (owl, blackbird, blue tit and robin) and nest boxes of the type which the actual birds would use.

Great fun, and some frustration, was obtained by trying to throw the correct bird into their appropriate nest box. As well as an educational benefit success generated the prize of a lollypop!
We also had some adults attempting the 'angry birds' challenge and some enquiries about the Wild Ennerdale project and the extent of National Trust ownership in the National Park.

Ros Earthy