Lakes path restoration fund

A fund has been launched to help raise money for the restoration of footpaths across the Lake District.

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From old to new: Footpath restoration

The old footpath was overgrown and patchy Credit: ITV News Border

Above you can see a footpath before it was restored. No real path has been established and the surface was becoming patchy.

The images below show what the footpath now looks like. Hundreds of local stones were flown in by helicopter to help establish stable steps.

The stones create proper steps for visitors to walk up Credit: ITV News Border

This makes the footpaths more accessible for visitors, helps to stop erosion and looks after the environment.

The stones blend in with the environment and help to stop erosion Credit: ITV News Border

It costs £1,200 an hour to make 20 trips in the helicopter. It is estimated that 500 trips are needed every year.

Erosion has detrimental effect on wildlife

Massive erosion on a popular footpath in the Lake District Credit: Outdoor conservation

Lake District visitor numbers have increased by around 10% in the last year, according to the National Trust.

The more people who visit the Lakes, the quicker the paths erode, and this has an effect on the wildlife too.

Salmon in the lakes Credit: PA

When paths become heavily eroded they destroy fragile wildlife habitats and threaten some species.

Fish species such as the rare vendance, as well as salmon and trout, are under threat because their spawning grounds are damaged by soil and debris washed off the paths and into lakes and streams.


What causes footpath erosion?

It is estimated that over 12 million people visit the Lake District every year, and 10 million of these people use the National Park's footpaths.

The huge number of visitors means that the footpaths are put under a lot of strain and have been eroding for many years.

A number of factors can contribute to the erosion of footpaths, including:

  • Altitude
  • Levels of use
  • Angle of slope
  • Drainage
  • Soli depth
  • Soil type
  • Climate
  • Proximity of facilities
  • Type of activity undertaken

The Lake District National Park authority are looking into various techniques to help reverse the effect of erosion on popular paths. Some of these techniques include:

  • Stone-pitching. This is a traditional method for surfacing the paths with stone. It uses larges, locally-sourced stones put into the ground to create small, irregular steps that blend into the surrounding landscape.
  • Sheep fleecing. This is an old technique that rangers have revived in recent years. It is used in areas where the paths are boggy or peaty. Sheep fleeces are folded and rolled to create a 'floating path' that is then layered with stones to protect the peat but also allow water to drain more easily.

Path repairs cost £160 per metre

A fund has been launched to help raise money for the restoration of footpaths in the Lake District.

The National Trust say that 1.25 miles of routes across the Lakes, including popular paths up Scafell Pike, need replaced over the next two years.

It is estimated that the cost of the repairs will be around £160 per metre, totalling £250,000 per mile.

Cumbrian mountaineer Sir Chris Bonnington told the Lake District National Park that reducing visit numbers is not the answer to the problem:

“The use we make of hills is more than just recreation. It represents the chance of recharging batteries in lives that are becoming more pressurised and technologically based. Reducing the numbers of people going intothe hills must never be seen as a solution.

"Our need for them is too great. The challenge, therefore, is to find ways of enabling people to venture into the hills without spoiling them.”

– Sir Chris Bonnington
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