We had our first fine day in five months for the workparty at Mazonwath on Wednesday, a change to the mudfest of the last few workparty days there. The stones were beautifully clean, all the mud from last time had washed off with the recent storms. Work is cracking on with the relocation of a section of wall that was being knocked down by trees growing ever outwards.

Time out to go to other places is always good for the mind and soul and often gives one a different perspective. My Easter holidays on the Rhins of Galloway gave me a chance to look at their dry stone walls and they could not be more different to the ones we care for in Cumbria. We have two skins of stones to form our walls which are tied together with through stones. There is filling in between the two skins and the stones decrease with size the higher up the wall you get. In Galloway they use one skin of boulders, and interestingly, the small stones go at the bottom which must give some challenges lifting the bigger ones onto the higher bits of wall. The walls are the finished with stones that look like throughs. Pondering the merits of this, the pros and cons and whether it would work for us, is interesting. Certainly in the case of the wall at Mazonwath, it would not be an option as finding any stones of any size and depth was a challenge in itself.

Rachel and Richard by a dry stone wall

Meanwhile, over in the wood, Rachel and Richard (pictured above) were back to continue their epic job of building a corner wall. They fared much better in terms of quality of the stone, but had the challenge of how to build the corner without getting running joints both on the inside and outside of the corner. Whilst the theory is easy to grasp, the reality of doing it is a lot more difficult. It's mind and body intensive, but there were lots of fossils to explore and enjoy along the way. We are lucky in that we are in no rush to finish, better to take time and get a quality job, than rush it and have problems later.

Over the Easter weekend, volunteer Charles did an amazing job of clearing the huge ash tree that the storms had blown down in the area. He not only chopped it all up and cleared it away, but he created a lovely seat out of the old trunk, and also made some tree stools that he took to Dam Mire Wood for the school children to sit on when they do their Forest School lessons this term. It certainly brings meaning to the term ‘reuse and recycle’!

A photo of a seat made from an old tree

Elsewhere on our land, the volunteers we trained last year in identification of birds, lichens, and veteran trees have been teaming up to go out on site and see what we have. They spent some time in Mike’s Wood and the Rusland Woods recently and that has already led us to sending in new data records to the Cumbria Biological Data Centre in Carlisle and the Woodland Trust’s Ancient tree Inventory. These records will be publicly available and are incredibly useful and it is great to have some citizen science in progress.

Next week we are in the south on the Helm near Kendal and you can join us by booking on at https://www.friendsofthelakedistrict.org.uk/Event/tuesday-23rd-april-2024-the-helm-gorse-control