Through the Fix The Fells partnership, work is underway to repair remote paths in the Lake District by a team of skilled multi-agency rangers and volunteers.
Key paths at Coniston Old Man, Helvellyn and Scafell Pike will be repaired, and work is also planned on the Coast to Coast route between Borrowdale and Grasmere.
With many people continuing to spend time in nature and stay close to home amidst the cost-of-living crisis and a reluctance to travel abroad, the National Trust anticipates that the paths will again see a high number of visitors in 2022.
The organisation added that a combination of millions of pairs of walking boots, heavy rainfall and gradient means erosion is a constant problem, and that repair work is needed to reduce erosion scars and help protect the ecology and archaeological heritage of the beautiful landscape.
Fix the Fells programme manager Joanne Backshall said: “Although the mountains will be here forever, they need on-going care. With so many people using these routes, human-related erosion is spiralling out of control and having a devastating effect on the landscape and wildlife.
“The work we are doing to repair and maintain eroded paths across Cumbria is critically important to protect this iconic landscape and its environmentally sensitive habitats, so that people can continue to enjoy the natural beauty of the Lakes for years to come.”
By repairing and creating more resilient paths better capable of managing increasing visitor numbers and severe weather events, Fix the Fells aims to reduce soil, gravel, stone and peat degradation in upland areas.
Work will include addressing gullying and degradation caused by heavy use and rainfall, installing drains to shed water from paths and defining paths to limit their spread and the resulting damage to thin, upland soils.
Most of the work will be carried out by hand by a team of 23 rangers and 130 volunteers who contributed a total of 2,277 days to repairing upland paths in 2021.
In April this year, 288 bags of stone were lifted by helicopter into remote areas for the repairs.
Other methods are also being used, including utilising machines, laying stone flags and planting trees to stabilise fragile areas and block short cuts.
With last year’s relaunch of the Countryside Code reminding walkers to stick to the paths to help protect crops and wildlife, Fix the Fells are hoping visitors will help prevent further erosion from blighting the Lakeland landscape.
The Fix the Fells partnership, which includes the National Trust, has been repairing paths in the Lake District for over 20 years, and needs over £500,000 each year to fix and maintain 400 miles of paths across the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The project is part-funded until June 2023 by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
Kath Beattie studied Journalism at The University of Central Lancashire and now writes for several Travel publications. She recently moved to The Lake District and enjoys walking her 3 dogs every day across the fells.