I arrived at Malham at 8:30 am. After being introduced to some of the staff and being told I would spend the day installing some gates, I headed out with Cassie (Ranger) into Upper Wharfedale to pick up the tools we required for the day and to collect Liz and Peter, the other two rangers I would be working with that day. We then went up to the new offices to collect the posts and rails we would need to complete the day’s work. After securing the posts and rails to the back of the Mazda we set off to Redmire Wood.
After arriving at the wood the first thing we had to do was clear the overhanging branches from our site. Once this was done Peter used the angle grinder to cut off the old iron fence so we could replace it with a kissing gate. Then we had to dig a hole for the first gate post. Using a heavy pole called a bar we marked out the hole and then used shovels and a post hole digger to deepen the hole. Whilst this was being done I was sent to collect some rocks which would help hold the post in place (as these were only temporary gates they would not be cemented in). Then we put the post in the hole, followed by some rocks, using a tamper (heavy metal pole with a blunt end) we knocked the rocks into place. A layer of soil was then put onto of the rocks and that too was tampered down. We repeated this process until the hole was filled in and the post was secure.
At around 12:30 we had a break for lunch and sat in the sunshine overlooking the countryside.
Then it was back to work and time to drill holes in to the gate and fit the hinges, which involved lots of hammering and drilling. Now we could hang the gate on the post. We repeated the process with the second post but then Cassie and I had to leave in order to get back to Malham in time for 5pm, so I could have a chat with Tim about my first day and then go home.
I also managed to have bit of a drive on the way home (in my own car, for safety reasons I was not allowed to drive any of the Trust’s vehicles) as I drove roughly halfway.
Fairly soon after arriving Rangers Roisin and Richard with Katie (other work experience girl from Settle) and I were loading up the Ford Ranger and heading to Upper Wharfedale to pick up Cassie, Liz and a quad bike. Then we headed out to Greenfields to do some fencing.
First of all Cassie, Liz and I had to put two lengths of barbed wire on a fence at the top of a hill, after lots of cut fingers and legs and even more hammering we decided it was time to break for lunch, where we once again got to spend dinner in a beautiful location.
After lunch we had to put some rails up over a hole in the fence, first we put the bottom rail on putting our boots underneath as a measure of the height. After hammering in four nails to secure the rail in place I had to saw the ends at 45 degree angles to improve their appearance. We repeated the same process with the other rails changing the size of the gaps between them from a boot to one rail, then a rail and a width, then two rails.
Next it was time to put two lengths of barbed wire down the other side of the fence which happened to be down a very steep slope. This made things very interesting trying to balance and not become entangled in barbed wire at the same time.
Having spent all day in the sun sawing, hammering and hauling around equipment we were all sufficiently exhausted and headed off back to Malham.
I managed to drive all the way home today braving the narrow winding roads of Malham.
Today we started off sorting out nails staples and screws into separate containers as they had all become mixed up. Then Liz, Tony, Katie and I headed out to check the mole traps, we found one and it was quite interesting to see one up close. They are strange looking things with huge hands, tiny tails and very soft fur.
After that it was down to the boardwalk where Roisin, long term volunteer Bill, Katie and I got to work. Bill broke off the old boards whilst the rest of us carted them back up the hill to be disposed of. After we removed the smaller boards Katie and I carried the old runners up the hill too and then headed back up to the centre for dinner.
We were then treated to a walk along the entire length of the boardwalk with Roisin and Cassie telling us all about the flowers, frogs, dragonflies and mosses we saw along the way. My favourite plants were some tiny carnivorous plants called Sundew’s.
Then we joined Liz, Cassie, Richard and Tony to get back to work. Whilst the others broke up the old boardwalk and moved away the old boards, Liz would arrange the new boards so I could drill holes in them and Katie could screw them to the runners underneath. Luckily we managed to lay all of our four sections without breaking any drill bits! Much to Tony’s delight.
After we had finished securing the boardwalk it was back to Malham to unload the truck and then a trip to the walled garden on the way we even caught a glimpse of a deer in one of the fields. The garden was phenomenal. There was every type of vegetable (and some fruit) I could think of, just a few include: radish, tomato, cauliflower, carrot, parsnip, cabbage, lettuce, kale, gooseberries, strawberries, runner beans, peas, broccoli, courgettes and rhubarb.
I collected some lettuce, rhubarb and radish (three different types) which I later had with my tea and they were delicious, far tastier than anything bought from the shops. Finally it was back to Malham and then off home with me driving halfway.
After applying sun cream and bug spray it was straight off down to Malham National Park Centre so Liz, Roisin, Katie and I could pick up the ladies from Hellifield WI. Once we were all loaded into the minibus we set off on a farm visit to New House Farm which is one of the National Trust’s tenant farms currently occupied by Roy and Irene. First we were joined by Peter the ecologist and then Irene took us around the wild flower meadow to look at some of the flowers that were in bloom, some included: Eye Bright, Forget Me Not and Yellow Rattle.
After that we got a tour of the farm and Irene told us: they got the farm in 1996; the old cow sheds are now the lambing barn; the new cow shed is very spacious with just four cows to each of the four pens; they have 35 sheep and 66 lambs (should have been 88 but they lost a lot in the snow); they hand reared 13 lambs; and they have a pig called Simone. She then went on to tell us about a new scheme they have joined where they picked one type of rare breed cow to have on the farm, they chose Dexter cows which are miniature cows and apparently have calves as big as dogs!
After dropping off the WI ladies we headed back to Malham for some dinner before heading out with Peter at around 1:30. We headed out onto the Fen by the Tarn where we were looking at a huge 2m2 quadrat which had 25 40cm x 40cm sections in it.
Seen as though Katie and I didn’t know many of the plants present (let alone their Latin names!) we headed off to take some photos of other plants for Peter. We managed to find some: Melancholy Thistle, Sundew, Forget Me Not, Orchid, various mosses… The after a quick look at some fish in the Tarn we re-joined Peter who gave us some background information on the Tarn and told us how they hoped to manage it in the future. He also attempted to teach us the names of some of the mosses and grasses but unfortunately they still all look the same to me! I will definitely have to do my homework on that front.
After a very hot afternoon it was back to Malham so I could collect my things and drive home.
Seeing as though it was my last day I decided to buy the team some chocolates and a thank you card just to say thank you for a fantastic week and for showing me the ropes. Needless to say this went down very well. Then it was off to the main office for a talk with Tim (Head Ranger) for a talk about the week and how it had all gone. Shortly after I was introduced to Tom (Events organiser) who I would be working with for the day. He briefed me on the events they do and then set me to work turning a piece of writing Peter had done into a poster. I did my first draft which was then given to Tim who asked for a few changes and some A3 copies, so after some delicious cake courtesy of Roisin it was back to work on the second draft and the A3 copy.
At 12 we headed out for some dinner with the rangers. Then I had my first experience Geocaching with Cassie, we had to go and check out the route to make sure the equipment sent people the right way! Next it was back to the office to inform Tom of some changes to the route and then time for me to apply the finishing touches to my posters.
Finally after a brilliant week it was time to say my goodbyes with promises of more volunteering in the future, then for the final time I drove home.
Work Experience Student