National Trust Press Release

Images available – see link in notes section

Lake District path conservation project given prestigious award

  • Fix the Fells wins Park Protector Award by the Campaign for National Parks.
  • The award is in recognition of work to look after and repair remote upland paths across the World Heritage Site.
  • Work protects environmentally sensitive upland habitats and prevents scarring on the world-renowned landscape.
  • The work is carried out by a team of 22 rangers and 130 volunteers who contributed over 2,200 days to fixing the fells in 2021.
  • The Fix the Fells partnership is made up of National Trust, Lake District National Park Authority, Friends of the Lake District, Natural England and Lake District Foundation.

Fix the Fells – a huge, multi-agency project that looks after and repairs remote paths in the Lake District National Park – has won this year’s Park Protector Award in recognition of their ongoing work to protect the Cumbrian landscape.

The award, run by Campaign for National Parks and sponsored by WWF-UK, recognises and rewards the efforts that go into protecting and improving National Parks in England and Wales. The winners received their awards at a ceremony in the Houses of Parliament this week attended by MPs and Lords, National Park Authority Chief Executives and leading civil servants.

For over 20 years, a team of skilled rangers and volunteers from the National Trust and Lake District National Park Authority have been repairing mountain paths, reversing the trend of erosion damage and restoring habitats. Rain or shine, they carry out work on many of the much-loved routes across the UNESCO World Heritage Site, including Scafell Pike, Helvellyn and the Coast-to-Coast path.

Speaking at the award ceremony, Fix the Fells Ranger Annie Duckworth said: “It’s an absolute honour and privilege to receive this award. This is for the whole Fix the Fells team, the 25 ranger colleagues who build the paths, 130 volunteers maintaining the paths – the eyes and ears of the project – our five partner organisations and funders. We don’t receive Government funding for the project, it’s down to that support and dedication that we’re able to do what we do.”

Dr Rose O’Neill, Chief Executive of Campaign for National Parks, said: “We were blown away by the quality of nominations in this year’s Park Protector Awards but there was one project that kept appearing – Fix the Fells. It was nominated by lots of different people, which speaks volumes, and when we delved into what it has achieved over the past couple of years it was clear to see why.

“The Lake District National Park is one of the most-visited and with that comes challenges, as well as opportunities, around caring for the landscape. Fix the Fells plays a central role in this, looking after hundreds of miles of path and perhaps even more notable is the make up of the team – with over 130 volunteers dedicating time and effort to this never-ending task.

“We’re delighted to be able to recognise these efforts and award Fix the Fells our main Park Protector Award in front of MPs, Lords, leading civil servants and National Park Chief Executives in the Houses of Parliament this week. A big thank you to everyone involved in Fix the Fells – the Lake District wouldn’t be the same without you.”

A combination of millions of pairs of walking boots, heavy rainfall and gradient means erosion on the Lake District’s fells is a constant problem. Repair work is needed to reduce erosion scars and help protect the ecology and archaeological heritage of the beautiful landscape.

Earlier in the year Fix the Fells Programme Manager Joanne Backshall said: “It is wonderful that so many people are enjoying the Lake District fells each year. Now more than ever, we’re seeing more people reaping the benefits that spending time in nature can bring.

“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 using local stone to repair and create 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. Their degradation results in the loss of rare upland habitats and species, as well as having an adverse impact on rivers and lakes below as sediment is washed off the fellsides.

Joanne continues, “It’s a privilege to be able to work day in, day out caring for a National Park – especially one as beautiful as the Lake District. The National Parks are home to some of the best natural beauty and cultural heritage in the UK and are for the benefit of the people and wildlife.”

The Fix the Fells partnership, which includes the National Trust,  Lake District National Park Authority, Friends of the Lake District, Natural England and Lake District Foundation, 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).

To make a donation to support this vital work looking after the Lake District’s precious scenery and wildlife, go to www.fixthefells.co.uk/donate/

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For more information contact Andrew Briggs, Marketing and Communications Consultant on 07815 463 741 or andrew.briggs@nationaltrust.org.uk.

Picture editor’s notes:

Images to support this story can be found in the link below. They should be used only in conjunction with this story and credited as indicated.

Fix the Fells Park Protector Award 2022

Editor’s notes:

Fix the Fells is a partnership programme between the National Trust, the Lake District National Park, Natural England, Friends of the Lake District and the Lake District Foundation.  The aim of the Fix the Fells partnership is to protect the spectacular Lake District landscape from erosion damage by repairing and maintaining upland paths.

‘Fix the Fells’ Rangers and Volunteers work every year to repair damage and create sustainable paths across the Lake District, to balance conservation with public access.

The core, heavier repair work is done by National Trust Rangers each year from March to November.  But volunteers keep working all the year round doing maintenance work and smaller projects during the winter months, including keeping drains clear to divert water off the paths.  If drains get blocked water can cause huge damage by washing away great swathes of topsoil and stone in heavier deluges.

Details of Fix the Fells’ work in 2022 can be seen on the website here: Paths to be fixed – 2022 Work Programme – Fix The Fells

The partnership has a total annual budget of £800,000 with 45 per cent covered by grants including one from the European Regional Development Fund.  This means £500,000 has to be raised each year through fund raising.

There are approximately 3,100 km (1,926 miles) of pathways across the Lake District National Park.  See: https://www.lakedistrict.gov.uk/caringfor

In some instances a section of path less than 500 metres in length can cost up to £50,000 to repair especially when helicopters are needed to lift stone in to place.

About the National Trust

The National Trust is a conservation charity founded in 1895 by three people: Octavia Hill, Sir Robert Hunter and Hardwicke Rawnsley, who saw the importance of the nation’s heritage and open spaces and wanted to preserve them for everyone to enjoy. Today, across England, Wales and Northern Ireland, we continue to look after places so people and nature can thrive.

The challenges of the coronavirus pandemic have shown this is more important than ever. From finding fresh air and open skies to tracking a bee’s flight to a flower; from finding beauty in an exquisite painting or discovering the hidden history of a country house nearby – the places we care for enrich people’s lives.

Entirely independent of Government, the National Trust looks after more than 250,000 hectares of countryside, 780 miles of coastline and 500 historic properties, gardens and nature reserves.

The National Trust is for everyone – we were founded for the benefit of the whole nation. We receive on average more than 26.9 million visits each year to the places we care for that have an entry fee, and an estimated 100m visits to the outdoor places that are free of charge. Paying visitors, together with our 5.6 million members and more than 53,000 volunteers, support our work to care for nature, beauty, history. For everyone, for ever.

About Campaign for National Parks 

Campaign for National Parks is the only national charity dedicated to campaigning to protect and promote all the 13 National Parks of England and Wales. National Parks are inspiring and breathtaking areas of our country. They are part of our cultural heritage, are important for wildlife, contain beautiful landscapes and benefit the nation. They are living and working landscapes and more than 100 million people visit the Parks in England and Wales each year. Campaign for National Parks works with a wide variety of people and organisations, representing shared concerns, views and voices. We come together to address issues affecting National Parks and take action to keep these beautiful places safe. For more information visit www.cnp.org.uk

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