30 January 2015

An Upland Rangers Sack...



We Upland folk have to be ready for anything, one day we could be doing habitat creation close to home, the next up on the high fells with an unexpected storm blowing through.  Granted we are pretty wise to where we go, especially in the winter months, but even in the summer the high fells can be a pretty unforgiving place to be as weather can, and does change very quickly!

Lovely day in the valleys, snowy on top!
As such our rucksack could be described as somewhat weightier that any of our low land colleagues.  Indeed if anyone else picks up our rucksacks it’s normally followed with a ‘Blimey!  What on earth have you got in there?!’  So when this question was posed quite recently I preceded to answer in great detail by emptying my bag....

Ta daaaa
But this got me thinking about all the weird and wonderful things that we do end up carrying up or off the fell. To start with we have the obvious as seen above, waterproofs, food, water, hot flask, first aid kit, spare jacket, map, whistle, compass, gloves.  These are the basics that keep us safe and comfortable when out working; alas to do work we need some tools…

Tools tools wonderful tools


The rock carrier (an Icelandic concept!)



Power Barrow, rock hammer.....
A rock hammer I hear you say?!  Yep and very useful it was too, I’m just glad it wasn’t me that had to carry it!  The power barrow meanwhile would have been driven up and although a little unwieldy at times does make moving lots of material much easier.  Another useful tool for this is our good friend the winch, but again, with a wire cable, winch body, handle and strops to be brought up it is most definitely a team effort.
Winching a rather large stone
Winching is immensely useful, especially on small projects.  But when it comes to larger projects that need a lot of stone, helicopters are, oddly enough, the most environmentally friendly way to move stone onto site.  But for this to happen stone has to be hand selected and placed into large black dumpy type bags ready for the helicopter to whisk away and onto site.  Again, these big black bags don’t walk to site by themselves!  Typically we’ll each carry 8-10 bags up onto site, which will each get filled with around 700-900kg of stone.
Carrying the Heli Bags....
...ready to fill them with stone!
Some stones however are a bit more controversial and it is often with mixed feelings that we find ourselves carrying them off the fell.  These are memorial stones and can vary from little plaques to chunks of slate.  We carry them off on the basis that if we leave them it could be seen acceptable to place memorials out on the fells.  This could result in fell tops, view points and summit cairns becoming littered with said memorials, not exactly what you’d expect to see when out on the fells.
Ah cake! Another very important piece of luggage
This all sounds like hard work doesn’t it, so I guess we should look at the comfort side of things, it’s important to take it easy every now and again!  Come forth the shed.  A beacon of hope on wild days, but also somewhere to store the deck chairs for sunny days and our own personal kitchen…  
Relaxing by the shed

Pancakes!
Equally it can be quite an odd thing to see on the fells so in some spots we do take to trying to camouflage it into the fells.
Now im sure there a shed here somewhere...
Staying on the relaxed theme our rucksack have one final and probably the most useful function of all, a pillow for that quick lunch time snooze!

ZZZZzzzzzzzzzz
Written by Upland Ranger Sarah
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