Helicopter used to transport digger up Scafell Pike to help fix the fell's paths

  • Video report by Samantha Parker.

A helicopter is being used to take a digger up the side of Scafell Pike, to help National Trust rangers and Fix the Fells repair damage to one of the main routes to the top

Repair work is starting this week on five sections of footpath. It is climbed by more than 250,000 walkers a year, and with more people enjoying spending time in nature and the easing of lockdown restrictions expected to see more visitors to the Lake District, even more are expected to tackle the ascent in 2021, the trust said.

But pressure from walkers and Cumbrian weather is leading to rapid erosion of paths, according to the conservation charity.

Credit: Samantha Parker

The Fix The Fells project, a partnership between the National Trust and four other organisations which care for paths in the Lake District, will be recommencing work on worn sections of path up from Wasdale Head.

The digger was taken up in pieces by specialists and will be reassembled on the fellside.

It is hoped the work, which includes replacing stonework, defining the path and installing drains, will prevent further erosion, and protect environmentally-sensitive upland grassland habitat and the rare plants it supports.

Most of the work will be carried out by hand by a team of rangers using materials found on the mountain where possible, while 230 bags of stone are also being lifted on to the site by helicopters.

For repairs to one stretch of path, a 360-degree excavator is needed, which will be flown on to the mountain in pieces and reassembled by specialist contractors, the trust said.

Machinery parts at Scafell Pike in the Lake District, during repair work on worn sections of the walking route from Wasdale Head, Cumbria. Credit: PA

The six-month project will concentrate on five sections of path totaling 1km (0.6 miles), with work on areas from the valley bottom to the summit.

With an updated version of the Countryside Code encouraging people to stick to paths, the National Trust is also urging visitors to help prevent further erosion by wearing the right footwear, staying on the path and not being afraid to get their boots muddy by walking through puddles instead of around them.

Walkers are also being encouraged to step to the side of the path to let others pass at a safe distance before returning to the path to continue their walk, to help stop paths widening and wearing down surrounding grassland.

A helicopter lifts a bag of stone onto Scafell Pike in the Lake District, during repair work to worn sections of the walking route from Wasdale Head, Credit: PA

Fix The Fells programme manager Joanne Backshall said: "It is wonderful that so many people are enjoying Scafell Pike and the surrounding peaks each year.

"Now more than ever, we're seeing more people reaping the benefits that spending time in nature can bring."

But she said: "With so many people using this route up Scafell Pike, human-related erosion is spiralling out of control and having a devastating effect on wildlife and habitats.

"The work we are doing to maintain and repair eroded footpaths on Scafell Pike is critically necessary to protect this iconic mountain, its environmentally sensitive habitats and this world-renowned scenic landscape, so that people can continue to enjoy this classic ascent and the natural beauty of the Lakes for years to come."