27 Jun 2020

Field Notes: Return to Glenridding Common

Land Manager Pete Barron reports on some good (and some disappointing) signs of life in the crags around Helvellyn

Alpine cinquefoill planting detail

We are back onto the fell again after some two months and despite the recent relaxation of rules the Glenridding Common property has been very much quieter than usual as many people continue to heed to requests to limit travel and avoid possible mountain rescue incidents.

Isaac and I had nearly missed the bird survey season under the methodology we use but for the uplands this permits one visit later (instead of the usual two) as there are few migrant birds missed at altitude by the one visit so the first job on the last of the hot days was our main upland survey. Birds surveyed, the usual meadow pipits , skylarks, a family of recently fledged ravens but along the way we found a new site in Lakeland for cloudberry and an otter spraint at 550m, probably a ‘ratching’ transient male.

Bitter vetch near Helvellyn

Our local community alpine and montane species growers had successfully ‘reared’ alpine cinquefoil (top) and bitter vetch (above) from local seed and these were planted out last autumn so a visit to see if they had survived was a must. We found very healthy plants which will be soon shedding seed to further enhance the species future survival. A great success for the growing team.

Unfortunately, despite the area being much quieter we are having to collect litter some of which appears to have been left by camping, still presently not allowed by the Covid-19 rules. This gives us a small health and safety issue due to the nature and unknown origin of some of the rubbish, but this has been covered by rigorous risk assessment.

While we were away, a sheep had got into the juniper/tree exclosure which had to be removed asap to avoid damage. Herdwicks don’t go easily, but two men and their dog got it away safely.

Photographs by Pete Barron