18 May 2012

Loads of fleeces and none of them golden .....

Getting the fleeces out of the barn - note the sophisticated 'old tea towel' dust mask .... 
We know we're getting into the summer season proper when our 'Fix the Fells' camping holidays start getting closer. Mid June we have our first one of these, where 12 hardy volunteers spend four nights camping up on the fells and working with us to help mend upland path erosion during the day. These are always very popular, despite the lack of any proper facilities.

So why am I talking about this now?

Well, this year we'll be putting in a path across a very boggy area at the top of Stake Pass, above the end of the Langdale valley. We'll be using a technique we first tried a few years ago on Martcrag Moor, close by, which involves building the path on top of sheep fleeces to 'float' it over the bog. It's worked very well, which is great, but it does mean that we have to get rather a lot of sheep fleeces up onto the fell.

Luckily, we don't have to carry them up ourselves; a helicopter lifts them up there. But it had left us with a job we've been dreading for a while hanging over us - loading the fleeces into helicopter bags.

  

Kirsty almost gets one in the face! The expression says everything ....


Kirsty and Steve with the filled bags

So the fleeces have been waiting for us at a Farm in Langdale for a while and we recently finally got round to going there to bag them up. We didn't really know what to expect, but in the end it was nowhere near as unpleasant a job as we feared. In fact, around half of them were already in huge white bags which saved us a lot of time. It was also quicker as we'd been working with the Northumberland NT volunteer group for a few days before and two members, Kirsty and Steve, had stayed on here when the rest of their group went home. They very kindly came out and gave us a hand, which they weren't expecting that when they came here, but they took it all in their stride .....


What a drag! - moving the bags to the barn to store them until the helicopter comes

So by the end of May all these fleeces will be up on the fell and then it's just the small matter of getting them back out of the bags and building the path. Easy!

Lost in a sea of fleeces, giant white bags of fleece in front.

By Rob Clarke, Basecamp Community Ranger

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