England's highest war memorial restored following mammoth mission

  • Video report by ITV News Scotland Correspondent Peter Smith

A war memorial atop England's highest mountain sat as a pilgrimage to veterans for over 100 years, but when it began to crumble a huge mission was required to restore it.

Rangers from the National Trust camped out for a week to repair the summit cairn, which sits on top of Scafell Pike, and every tool had to be carried by hand up 997 metres.

The repair worked involved resetting the memorial plaque within the walls of the 7.5 metre wide cairn and inserting a time capsule containing details of the work carried out as well as photos and information about the rangers themselves for future generations.

Steps to the top of the cairn were also reinstated so that the 250,000 yearly visitors can once again stand on the highest point of England’s highest peak.

Scafell Pike was one of 14 Lakeland summits given to the National Trust in the years immediately after the Great War to commemorate those who loved to climb the peak before being drafted to fight.

Lord Leconfield dedicated the gift “in perpetual memory of the men of the Lake District who fell for God and King, for freedom peace and right in the Great War 1914 – 1918.”

George Sansom was one 78 members of Britain's Fell and Rock Climbing Club who went away to fight, sadly 20 of them never returned to the hills they loved.

Writing in his World War diary about Scafell Pike, he wrote: "(It) consists of a magnificent rock face, nearly vertical for about 85 feet."

Soldier George Sansom wrote in his memoirs about climbing Scafell Pike. Credit: ITV News

Marian Silvester, General Manager for the National Trust, said, “Millions of people visit the Lake District each year, but few are familiar with the story behind these mountains, which we are extremely proud to look after."

She added: "By repairing Scafell Pike’s cairn and re-dedicating the peaks, not only are we remembering the past, but looking to the future to ensure this inspiring landscape can be enjoyed by generations to come.”

As well as being a historically significant site, Scafell Pike is also a fragile habitat, home to rare plants and designated a SSSI and Special Area of Conservation.