18 January 2013

Winter Wall Gaps

The Upland Footpath Team are mostly working in the lower parts of the countryside of the South Lakes at this time of year. The weather and the shorter daylight hours mean that it is not possible (or safe) to spend all of our time working on upland footpaths in the fells.

Repairing gaps in dry stone walls usually forms a large part of our winter work. We have lots of woodlands with dry stone walls as boundaries and gaps appear for various reasons, such as trees or branches falling on them. It is important to maintain these walls to keep the sheep and cattle in adjacent fields out as they can be damaging to the woodland.
One of the wall gaps, re-building has commenced....

Nearly finished... Sarah & Luke finishing off the wall

It is not all wall gaps and there is plenty of variety to our winter work, the team go wherever their help is requested.  Examples include hedgelaying with a volunteer group, installing field gates, emptying cattle grids and drainage work on lower level paths.
Hedgelaying with volunteers near Coniston this week
The upland paths still get attention in the winter and we try to do some maintenance at least once a week.  This usually means walking a path route and emptying the drains, clearing the 'pitched' stone path surfaces and generally checking the condition of the path. This is known as a "drain run".
We timed a drain run up Dollywaggon Pike perfectly last week as we escaped misty weather in the lower valleys and enjoyed some of the nicest weather so far in 2013.

"Views" at Tarn Hows, near Coniston

Slightly better views near the summit of Dollywaggon Pike

The weather recently has been quite variable and at the start of this week it snowed.
The surrounding countryside was very picturesque but it does make our work more difficult.

Tarn Hows in the snow this week

Post by Nick, Upland Footpath Ranger