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Landscaping and Maintenance – Hardcastle Crags, National Trust

Hardcastle Crags is a beauty spot owned by the National Trust and located in West Yorkshire in the South Pennines. Visitors can find 15 miles of footpaths through 400 acres of unspoiled woodland which is home to bubbling streams, cascading waterfalls and the northern hairy wood ant! Hardcastle Crags is also home to the National Trusts flagship sustainable building Gibson Mill, which  has no link to the national grid.



400 Acres

Unspoiled Woodland

3 Stepping Stone

Crossing Points

1 Stepping Stone


The National Trust approached us to repair several sets of stepping stones at the Hardcastle Crags site that had been displaced by winter storms over the past few years. When our site teams planned this job it was really important to take into account how the weather would play a part. Rain or storms forecast could mean the rivers flow was too high and fast making the job too dangerous to undertake. Luckily in June we had some perfect weather so the team could make a start.

The first two bridges consisted of large carved stones which had been historically placed as stepping stones to enable people to cross the stream. The site was a challenging one as there was no access for our teams to take large machinery on site, so the work would all have to be done by hand. However, Russ and Rob are both highly skilled in arboriculture, so were able to overcome these challenges and use this knowledge to design an intricate rigging system of pulleys, slings, hand winches and cables to move the heavy stepping stones back into place with excellent precision. 16mm rebar pins were then knocked into the river bed to act as anchoring pins and high tensile wire was tightened around the rocks and pins to hold them firm in position.

The final crossing was made up of concrete formed stepping stones with reinforced a metal rebar in the centre driven into the river bed. The team used stacks of straw bales with plastic liner to surround the area to slow the force of the stream.  This then allowed them to install prefabricated shuttering, which had been made to size back at our yard. This shuttering could then be filled with concrete mix and left for several days to allow it to cure. Once set the team returned to remove the shuttering and all the materials used for stemming the water flow. The remaining stones in this section of crossing were pinned in place again using the same techniques as on the other crossings.

During the teams time at the site they got lots of comments from the public using the area how happy they were to see the work in progress so the stepping stones could be used once again. When the job was completed it was a delight for the team to see their hardwork rewarded by visitors happily using the stepping stone crossings once more.

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