We Counted Them All Out And We Counted Them All Back Again
Usually flying stone to site involves a frustrating wait for low cloud to lift or high winds to ease.
This year however the skies were cloudless and we reaped the harvest of bags without a hitch (apart from the one attached to the helicopter itself - it would have been really tricky to lift the bags without it)
We began with 30 bags of landscaping stone from the side of Kirk Fell which we will use to stabilise some badly eroded gullies below Kirkfell Crags near the top of Black Sail Pass.
This was followed by 64 bags of pitching stone along sections of the Black Sail Bridleway where the path is becoming deeply entrenched as the existing path surface cascades downhill. Stone will also be used to improve drainage .
The following day we switched to the opposite side of the valley to the Scafell massif. Flying 50 bags of pitching stone from near Burnmoor Tarn was always going to be a more difficult task than yesterday's but we managed to get stone very close to the path while still allowing access to Scafell Pike to continue relatively unhindered.
It was rather surprising that despite the glorious weather there were relatively few people heading up this normally very busy route to Scafell Pike. This made the process of landing bags safely much easier and swifter.
This section of path proved hardest for landing bags safely as the narrow route traverses quite a steeply angled slope with little space available. This will be the first section to be repaired as we use the stone to widen and retread the existing surface which is currently unable to cope with the numbers using this route at the height of summer.
So, after two days of flying we found ourselves slightly ahead of schedule, the next location for flying being Honister for the North Lakes team. The presence of the helicopter provided the usual entertainment for visitors to Wasdale Head, although this is the first time we have been based so close to the Hotel. Thanks are due to the Naylors of Row Head Farm for providing us with a sheep-free field for the event.
Away from the glamour of helicopter flying we have spent several days working with many of the FTF volunteers over the past month or so.
In mid April we had a residential work party continuing to tackle the Lingmell Breast path, undertaking landscaping and stabilising of the path edges
Two weeks later as part of the Three Peaks maintenance blitz a contingent of volunteers set off from Wasdale Head armed with shovels and brushes, a few hours later meeting like-minded comrades on the summit where a group photo was eventually taken once the queue for the summit cairn had cleared.
The insatiable urge to visit Wasdale was not fully appeased however, and a fortnight later Yewbarrow received similar attention from a smaller crew.
As if this wasn't enough a work party of 8, undeterred by an abysmal weather forecast convened at Wasdale Head Green in mid May and completed some subtle yet assertive path definition work at a crucial point of the Sty Head packhorse track.
At this point in the track the correct route has veered to the right to cross the right hand stream, but people have been continuing on to the end of this rocky promontory which leads to a far more inconvenient crossing point. By subtly landscaping out the traces of any path the correct route is now the only visibly clear line.