3 February 2012

Guards Wood needed guarding

the gateway before work
 Sheep and woodland don't mix
If sheep get into woodland they graze on the flora and browse on the woodland which affects the woodland structure and the biodiversity. It can also create problems for the farmer as it is difficult to gather the sheep, and the sheep may get into difficulty or eat something that is bad for them. For example the needles and seeds of Yew trees are highly poisonous to sheep. Helping to secure gates against sheep is an ideal job for us in the winter. 

A winter task for our footpath team at Guards Wood
At this time of the year although we're the Upland Footpath team (one of four National Trust Footpath teams working in the Lake District) we spend most of the time doing lower level work in the countryside. The shorter days and poorer weather mean it is not possible for us to continue working on the fells throughout the winter.  There is plenty to keep us busy and no shortage of gaps in dry stone walls to repair. An interesting change from wall gaps has been to install new gates on two paths that lead into Guards Wood near Coniston. 

the gateway work-in-progress
Glen finishing off
The existing paths went through field gates into the woods but there have been problems with these gates being left open and sheep from the adjacent farm fields getting into the woodland.
Our task was to take down a section of dry stone wall next to the existing gate, installing an additional five foot gate, rebuilding the “quoin” end of the wall and re-profiling the land around each new gate. We had help from two volunteers, Glenn and Luke, which meant we finished the work in half the time anticipated.

The new gates are sprung so that they shut themselves and the main field gates can now be padlocked shut. This will hopefully keep the sheep from “escaping” into the woodland.

Elsewhere an unusual wildlife sighting
interested spectators
We do some upland footpath maintenance in the winter, to ensure the drainage is working and to carry out minor repairs. 

A bonus whilst doing this recently was we saw a herd of Red Deer on Martcrag Moor (near Pike O’Stickle) in the Langdales, an unusual sight.

post and photos by upland footpath team member Nick