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Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Hacking a way through the jungle, then a week off, then busy, busy, busy

before we started
the finished path
Two weeks ago it was one of those "so where exactly is the path?" moments. It seemed impenetrable and there was a very large tree with several twisted branches in the way. However we hacked and sawed and lopped and somehow dragged the branches out of the way, nothing deters Coasties, even when we are a long way from the‎.
There was one nasty moment, in a scene from the enormous turnip, some one trying to pull a blackthorn tree away from its neighbour tripped and sent me over too, luckily the next person in line jumped clear. Fortunately, except for some nettle stings, no one was hurt.

By lunch time we had almost finished and had reached the bridleway which this path then joined. It had been hard sticky work on another hot day, but as usual a great sense of achievement.

Then I took a week off. My small society can manage when its members go away, or in my case had family to stay, but people who absolutely depend on others can't; which is why the things I write about here can be done by volunteers, but essential public services need paid employees. Even Short Stop, finds another volunteer to do the coordinating when I'm not available.

Back in my small society again, I did a day at the the Mobile Display Unit at Saltergate on Bank Holiday Monday. It was a busy and quite eventful day. One of my fellow Voluntary Rangers had to tell two dog owners to catch, control and put their pets on leads, both dogs had been chasing sheep. One of the owners tried to hide, with his barking dog, behind a tree. It sounds funny, but last week two almost fully grown lambs were badly hurt in similiar conditions by dogs off their leads. Then we saw smoke in a forest the other side of the valley, this is serious, even after some rain, the Moors are still on extreme fire risk. We called the fire brigade, but luckily it turned out to just be a rather thoughtless farmer burning a lot of wood.

Yesterday was a very busy Short Stop day, two couples and two single men. It took nearly a dozen calls and several texts, but by mid afternoon every one had a room and a meal for the night. The current fighting in Syria has meant an increase in numbers of people from there seeking refuge here. As usual those hosts who can't take someone in are so apologetic; part of my job, I think, is to assure them that I will find the guests somewhere, and so far I always have.

Today, another warm sunny day, Coasties were back right on the coast. We were doing a variety of tasks for the National Trust at the alum works at Ravenscar, mostly trying to clear weeds, bracken and gorse so that the outline of these old industrial buildings can be seen.

Once again we packed our tools away with a feeling of a job well done, smug, well yes OK! Here are the remains of the old winding house, we left the hart's tongue ferns to decorate the old stones.

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

"A map? No I don't have a map"

I have always loved maps. In primary school I used to draw imaginary islands, with contour lines and inlets. My father taught me to use a road atlas as my mother couldn't. I always have an OS map with me when I am walking. The drawback of walking in other countries is their lack of the detail and accuracy in our OS maps.

So the comment above that I often get when I am doing a voluntary ranger patrol for the North York Moors National Park,, never ceases to amaze me. Some people do have a print out from a website or a piece from their local paper, some of which are quite detailed. However last Saturday I met two walkers who had a piece of A5 paper which showed the whole coastal stretch of the Cleveland Way, each mile squashed into a few millimetres.

This might be adequate in the summer and in dry, sunny weather; but as the evenings draw in and the weather deteriorates it could be dangerous. Last winter I met a couple who were going to walk on to a village with no bus service and who then wanted an alternative route back to their car with no map to help them find one!

There are many debates about how much signing the Park should provide for people who come out without a map. I am beginning to think that we should provide more. If we are going to encourage people to walk more, for their health and because the National Parks are there for all of us, then maybe there should be more practical help to do so. The Park puts on guided walks, publishes leaflets, so maybe some more directional signing in the more popular areas would be a logical extension to what is already being done.

Enough of all this theorising and back to what my small society has been doing over the last two weeks! Well, short stop, has been very quiet, no one last week and just one, a very young woman from Syria, this week. However with hosts on holiday it took me several phone calls to place her safely off the streets.
the view from our BBQ

Coasties has continued building steps and then this week in the alum works catching up with clearing some of the old industrial works of months of nettles and other weeds. However the best of all was our annual BBQ, held as usual in Ravenscar, site of so many of our tasks. Excellent food and company as ever, culminating in badger watching and then, very late, a bat walk.