Saturday, December 15, 2012

Fixing Buttermere

I learnt two new things today on a Fix the Fells work party.  First of all, I learnt what a Revetment is.  Secondly, I learnt how to build one.  The particular area of path that needed a revetment was on the opposite side of the lake from Buttermere village, in Burntness Wood.  There is a point where a shoreline path splits away from the main forest track.  A little way along this path, the side has slipped away.

The photo on the right shows where the old revetment wall has fallen way.  The path has started to also fall away.

I think if this path was left, water would start to flow through the groove, eroding the path further and before long, a much wider gap in the path would appear.

In this instance, the revetment wall is used to hold the bank back and keep the path stable.  Most of the erosion here will be from people walking on the path and water running down from the fells above.  The steep sides of High Stile slope down to this point.

You can see that further along, the revetment wall has been built up with a lot of stones.  It looks very solid but we wanted to try to create a more natural looking bank on the section that we were working on today.

The photo on the left shows the same section from the side.

The first job was to dig out all the loose soil and dig the turf away so that it could be used later to help landscape and blend in the repair.

The shoreline of Buttermere Lake at this point is a very fine shingle beach.  This was considered when we planned the work as the stones needed to be sufficiently dug in to prevent the possibility of them sliding down on the shingle and the bank collapsing.  This meant digging a big old hole. 

Ian's dog - Titan

Ian stood in the hole.  I hope he's not looking for his dog

the turf is kept for landscaping afterwards
large boulders being levered and rolled into place on the bottom row
a few layers done - wet and muddy work
Titan supervising some finishing touches
The biggest stones went at the bottom which meant that we needed some really big stones for the bottom.

It's important to angle the stones back into the bank so that the pressure of the stones on top as well as people walking along the path pushes into the bank and makes the revetment stronger.

Each stone needs to bed in with the stones around it,  much time was taken and stone placement was debated and trialled before settling on the correct position.

It's also important that the bank looks as natural as possible so soil and the turf we put to one side was put on when we had finished the stone laying.  The whole process took us the best part of a day.

another Ian pointing out the bit we have done today



And that was it.  A good day out in the lakes, some local environmental volunteering done, some very muddy clothes and the satisfaction of a job well done and putting something back into the area of the world that I love so much.

The tools were packed back into the National Trust land rovers.  I elected to walk the mile or so back to Buttermere rather than squash in the back.  

The land rovers had managed to get across Buttermere Dubs at the edge of the lake.  

I'm not sure if the level was higher at the end of the day but the strategy seemed to be to go as fast as you can and hope you have enough momentum to get across.  

Both of them did.

Getting out of my muddy clothes was very nice, getting home and having a steaming hot bath was even nicer and if I hadn't been so muddy and cold beforehand, I would not have appreciated that bath half as much.

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