January's challenge!

With a new year comes a new project for the Upland Rangers, and a interesting and challenging one at that!  With our team expertise in stone work, come the winter months it's an opportunity to tick off various stone work tasks around the property, such as the work at Moss Eccles and normally plenty of dry stone walling. This time however we were off to improve one of the access routes into one of our local quarries.  A beautiful place to work, but rather a lot of different challenges to contend with!

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Spot the red jumpers!

As with any stone based project the first mission is to get the materials onto site.  Working in a quarry there was plenty of stone to choose from, but getting it to the path was a challenge in itself, especially as there was rather a lot of steep ground to contend with and rocks have a tendency to roll!  To assist us we first used a powered barrow to get stone from the spoil heaps to the top of the work site and then it was down to good old people power to roll them down and actually onto the work site.

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Luke using the barrow to get the stone to top of site

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Stone deposited on site having been rolled down the gully.

While we were doing this part of the job, we did close part of the quarry off to minimize risk to the public and it would appear that a local resident also took advantage, deciding to try out some of the more extreme pastures available in the Lakes!

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Spot the sheep enjoying a spot of lunch....

Whilst this stone gathering was happening two of the team were dealing with another important issue on a new job, improving drainage.  Diverting water away from the path is always a key task as, more often than not, it's not people erosion that's the biggest problem, but in fact water.  This was especially a problem on this path as we believe it was water that washed the old path away.  It's not suprising with the amount of rain we get in the Lakes, as such drainage becomes quite a priority!

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Ian putting in a drain at the top of the path

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Sarah putting in a drain in the mid point of the path

With the recent wet weather, water is something we've most definitely seen plenty of.  At one point Sarah even appeared to be making a swimming pool rather than a path.  It can make working in quite difficult, especially if you can never quite tell how deep a hole you're digging until you're stood in it.  However, when you do get to drop stones in, the splashes can be particularly impressive!

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Quite a large puddle...

The rain however didn't put people of visiting the quarry and most days we would hear people shouting in the caves listening to the echo, or groups abseiling down some of the quarry sides.  It was a busy little place and proved to be a really nice work site.  Which was a good job, as the nature of the work was in places quite challenging so kept us occupied for a few weeks.  The end results though were particularly pleasing as we feel we've really made a difference to the path and protected the environment and habitats in the process.

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The upper part of the path that was washing away before we started work

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The same bit of path after work

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Challenging section of bedrock before work, quite difficult to walk up!

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The same section with slate steps added, much easier to walk up!

All in all in was a great job to be a part of and fingers crossed it will be there for a good few years.  As for what's next for the team, we will be beavering away at a wall just outside of Coniston at Park Coppice caravan site, alongside getting back out on the fells when the weather allows.  We will however miss our daily commute into the quarries, after all it's not very often you get to go underground to get to a work site!

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Keep up with the teams day to day work by following them on twitter @ntlakesfells

Written by Sarah :)

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