29 November 2013

Buried Treasure

This week it is the turn of the Upland Ranger team to write this blog.

At this time of year we are working mostly in lower level countryside, rather than up in the fells, and in recent weeks much of our time has been spent on a project at Moss Eccles Tarn. This is a picturesque glacial mountain tarn which was enlarged by the construction of a small dam and is situated not far from the village of Near Sawrey.

Moss Eccles Tarn
Beatrix Potter bought Moss Eccles Tarn in 1913 the same year she married local solicitor William Heelis. They kept a boat there and it became a favourite place for them to spend time in the evenings:
‘ William and I fished ( at least I rowed ) till darkness; coming down the lane about eleven. It was lovely on the tarn, not a breath of wind……’
It is also reputed to have provided inspiration for "The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher".

Moss Eccles Tarn is a special place for wildlife today and is valued in particular for the wide range of aquatic and wetland plants and for its dragonflies and damselflies. It was bequeathed to the National Trust as part of Beatrix Potter's estate.

The tarn is classed as a reservoir and as such falls within the scope of the 'Reservoirs Act 1975' which means that it is subject to regular inspections by an engineer. Following the most recent report, it was recommended that the dam be strengthened and the height raised.
Moss Eccles Tarn dam before work commenced
The work on the dam wall was completed by civil engineering contractors. Once this part was completed, work on the 'reinforcing revetment' behind the dam wall was required. This had to be raised to be consistent with the new height of the dam and strengthened with stone pitching to ensure that the dam is capable of being 'overtopped'. This was identified as a good project for the Upland Ranger team since stone pitching is a technique that we often use for upland footpath work.

The first stage of our work involved digging out the old revetment behind the dam wall to a point where there were good foundations from which to start the new stone pitching. We also had to collect and transport several trailer loads of stone to the site for the pitching work.

Dam wall height increased & digging out the old revetment behind this has commenced.....
Synchronised stone collecting at Moss Rigg quarry 
Our work behind the dam wall was divided into three sections, based on the shape of the dam wall, and our work was carried out on each one in turn.
One section of the new stone pitching progressing towards the enhanced dam wall
The stone pitching work carried out was very familiar territory for us. However, the specification for the work required that the part next to the dam also used concrete. This was very strange for us as we normally work purely with dry stone. In addition a geotextile fabric was used, along with soil and turf, to cover the top of the stone pitching work.
This meant we buried our lovely stone-work - the "treasure" referred in the title for this blog.
Geotextile fabric rolled back over a section of stone pitching with soil & turf now being added on top...
There wasn't sufficient turf available to cover all of the work done behind the dam wall and soil and grass seed were used for the remainder. It should start to green over early next spring and hopefully this time next year it will blend nicely in with the surrounding countryside, similar to the picture before work started above.
Our finished project... most of it now buried
Our last day on this project was at the start of this week and Sarah baked cakes to celebrate. Sarah created the "Moss Eccles" cake which instead of currants (which she doesn't like) has a filling of cranberries and white chocolate. Delicious!
Luke & Sarah enjoying "Moss Eccles" cakes
Moss Eccles Tarn has been a very picturesque location to work at, although we are very lucky since we get to work in beautiful locations almost every day.

If you would like to know more about the daily work of the South Lakes Upland Ranger team they can be found on Twitter @NTLakesFells.

Posted by: Nick, Upland Ranger

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