Business as usual with track repairs at Loweswater

Cath Tyrrell, Marketing Assistant (I'm office-based, but occasionally I escape outdoors!) Cath Tyrrell Marketing Assistant (I'm office-based, but occasionally I escape outdoors!)
Shovels and aggregate ready for track repairs Loweswater, Cumbria

The North Lakes Ranger team are out in the landscape day in, day out looking after the Lakes. Often that work is not so glamorous, it’s just about the upkeep and maintenance of the infrastructure that we all take for granted, but, whatever the task, our Rangers apply skills and ways of working that mean you probably won’t even notice that they’ve been in the area.

Good planning

I had a rendezvous with Rangers Andy and Ian to see them in action on some of their ‘business as usual’ Rangering work - carrying out track repairs at Loweswater. It was a glorious spring morning and though this work had been planned since November, I was impressed the guys had arranged such good weather for my visit.

Each load is about 1.5 tonnes of material
Rangers loading a trailer with aggregate, Loweswater, Lake District
Each load is about 1.5 tonnes of material

Getting down to work

The first thing I learnt about track repairs is that as soon as you need a track to be traffic-free, everyone under the sun needs to drive through your patch! There was much manoeuvring of vehicles and then a pause, then an operational directive from Andy: “we’ll have a bit of bait while we wait for a clear run - it’s called sorting the logistics!”

Picture perfect pothole preparation
Ranger sweeps water from pothole, Loweswater, Lake District
Picture perfect pothole preparation

Pothole prep

Flasks away and the coast clear, it was time to get on with the job. While Ian loaded the trailer with the aggregate, Andy prepared the potholes with a brisk brushing to remove excess water, making sure to sweep with the camber of the track so the water drained away and didn’t just run back into the hole. This looked like hard work and I offered verbal solidarity whilst standing well back (someone has to take the picture!). Andy assured me that this could be the hardest part of the job but this particular track wasn’t as bad as the one at the Isthmus, Derwent Water which looked as if it had a bad attack of smallpox.

Pothole-filling in action
Two National Trust Rangers fill potholes Loweswater, Lake District
Pothole-filling in action


The guys then embarked on a very slick ‘tag team’ procedure of driving the trailer forward, hopping out and shovelling aggregate into the potholes and driving on again, taking it in turns and making very quick progress up the lonning. As the trailer emptied there was some pride to be had from getting the tipping action just right so as to get the best access to the remaining material without dumping it straight on the ground. I have to say that I was impressed with the teamwork and efficiency with which they got the job done.

That's the first load nearly done!
Rangers and tipping trailer repairing trackway, Loweswater
That's the first load nearly done!

Some statistics:

  • 80 tonnes of gravel are used per year on lonnings and tracks in Borrowdale and Buttermere
  • This takes approximately 124 work-days to put down
  • With a total cost of approximately £13,000 each year

Track repairs might be 'business as usual' but that's the stuff that lies at the heart of what we do to look after the Lakes.

But we need you too! Every time you park in one of our car parks, visit, join or make a donation, you help fund the work these guys do to look after the places you love - whether it's trackways, hedgerows, footpaths or precious wildlife habitats.

When only a wacker will do
A wacker ready for use at Loweswater, Lake District
When only a wacker will do

But we're not finished yet

After driving the now empty trailer back to the start of the track and donning their hard hats once more, Ian cracked on with re-filling the next load and Andy engaged in a rather balletic promenade back down the lonning with ‘the wacker’, pounding each filled pothole into a nice newly compacted surface.

A job well done chaps.