Fell path repair work is prioritised and agreed by the Fix the Fells Programme Board. The Board has representatives from the National Trust, Lake District National Park, Friends of the Lake District, Lake District Foundation and Natural England.
In 2012 our skilled and experienced rangers from the National Trust and National Park undertook path surveys on 120 paths across the fells. The prioritisation of which paths we work on is based on the current condition of the paths and the future impact they are likely to have on the landscape, ecology and archaeology. More detailed specifications are drawn up each year using nationally agreed best practice principles.
For more details please visit our Path Repair Techniques page.
In 2018 we will be concentrating on repairing paths damaged by Storm Desmond in December 2015. We will also focus on repair and maintenance work to try to prevent some less severe areas of path erosion getting worse and to return to some of our previous work that needs attention. There will still be some new project work but this will be a smaller part of our overall work programme.
For more information on our 2018 work programme, please contact Richard Fox (Fix the Fells Ranger) firstname.lastname@example.org
All work is subject to the relevant permissions before being undertaken.
The 200+ sections of path that have been worked on in previous years will continue to be maintained as per a traffic light system. Paths are rated according to the number of times our volunteers and rangers need to return to them in order to clear the drains and sweep the stone pitching of any loose stones. The traffic light systems works as follows:
Green: Twice a year
Amber: Three times a year
Red: Four times a year
In addition, Fix the Fells rangers and volunteers will undertake any minor repair works that are required, particularly on well used paths such as the Coast to Coast path and popular mountain routes.
Stone Arthur, Grasmere. A couple of landslips came down during Storm Desmond, removing a section of path and leaving a difficult and boggy beck crossing. The path will be reinstated and the beck crossing re-formalised to prevent water from causing further damage to the path. The work will involve stone pitching and installing cross drains to shed water.
Fairfield (Heron Crag) Grasmere. Above Nab Scar and not far below Heron Crag the path has been particularly damaged from water run-off from higher up. There are several gullies and the path is braided. The plan here is to bring a machine onto site to install drainage and create a single aggregate path.
Glenamara. Patterdale. The previously repaired sections of this path were unaffected by Storm Desmond, but other lengths that were previously just managing were seriously damaged. The path in places is now a series of gullies, which need to be re-landscaped and stone pitched to stabilise. Stone cross drains will be installed to spread the water and deter any re-occurrence.
Far Easedale Grasmere. A section of the Coast to Coast walk, Storm Desmond severely damaged two sections in particular. One is just below the col with Greenup Edge, and it is this section that will be repaired in 2017 / 18. The work here involves some stone pitching, alignment and landscaping gullied path lines, building stone beck crossings and installing stone drains to shed water frequently.
Scarth Gap Buttermere. This is an old packhorse route that suffered moderate damage along a long length of the route. Work planned here is for short sections of pitching and landscaping to address gullied damage and building new stone cross drains to reduce the water flow. In a couple of locations the path edge has collapsed, which will require revetment and stabilisation in addition to drainage.
Castle Crag from New Bridge Borrowdale. This path changes character considerably as you go higher. The upper section needs stabilisation and revetment where the spoil heap edges were undercut by the intensity of rainfall. Drainage on this site is not straightforward, but will be installed if practical.
Manesty to Hause Gate Borrowdale. Apart from the section of this path that is regularly damaged by the washout caused by run-off from the Maiden Moor path, the effects of the 2015 storm in particular has been to significantly increase the size of steps up to drains and pitching. Using flown-in stone, washouts will be stabilised and pitched where necessary and cross drains will be installed.
Raise to Sticks Helvellyn ridge. This bridleway was originally subsoiled about 16 years ago. The intensity of rainfall during Storm Desmond overcame the top drain and then rapidly washed out drainage features below. The result was that the surface towards the bottom of the path was almost entirely washed away, with the surrounding vegetation smothered in material. The path needs to be completely re-subsoiled from top to bottom. In this location, there is sufficient material to do this on site.
Maiden Moor Borrowdale. The Maiden Moor path is in urgent need of repair. Not only is the path itself in a poor state after Storm Desmond, the runoff from the path is causing significant damage to the Manesty bridleway, Catbells Terrace bridleway and a large swathe of the hillside above Manesty. Water is currently gathering on the path surface on Maiden Moor, then running and increasing for 700m before it all cascades down towards Manesty. The path needs machine work, although there is little subsoil in areas, to turn the water at every opportunity to both sides. In addition, where possible, the path needs to be narrowed and landscaped to reduce future trampling and therefore reduce the potential gather.
Little Town to Hause Gate Newlands. This path will be repaired by machine as it is being tracked out from Maiden Moor. Storm Desmond caused a landslip that blocked the drainage route and path surface gullies. The work is to re-instate drainage and clear the old path line.
Stoneycroft Upper Newlands. The lower path was repaired in 2017, but the upper path requires a Natural England site visit to ensure minimum damage occurs to the peaty vegetation at the top of the route. There is some considerable gullying resulting from Storm Desmond that will require sub-soiling by machine and herring bone style drains to lead the water away from the path.
Long Stile High Street. The Long Stile ridge, as it steepens towards the summit plateau of High Street, has eroded into a loose, unpleasant gully that is steadily widening due to water and the passage of people. A helicopter lift is required to bring in stone to stabilise the gully and block use of the vegetated sides. This site is particularly remote, which will lead to a long travel to site each day.
Side Farm to Boredale Hause, footpath and bridleway, Patterdale Both these routes took considerable damage from Desmond. They are heavily used as part of the Coast to Coast, and both need considerable stone drops in order to provide material to rebuild and increase the number and length of drains, pitch up to steps, drains, culverts and previous pitching. There is no stone close to this site, necessitating a lengthy flight.
Kepple zig-zags Glenridding This old packhorse route was subsoiled around 2000 and has been a good sustainable route since. However the intensity of rain in December 2015 was too great for the size and depth of the drains, with the result that most of them were overtopped and then broken. Material has been spilt widely onto the surrounding vegetation, and the path surface has been deeply gullied for considerable distances. Much of the route will need to be re-subsoiled by machine, which should be achievable with on-site material.
Sticks Pass east Glenridding This route has been subsoiled relatively recently, but in common with a number of these paths on Helvellyn, the drains were not deep enough / frequent enough to cope with the amount of water that fell during the December 2015 storm. With funding from Friends of the Lake District, we will repair this route whilst there is a machine on the Raise path. The plan is to re-subsoil damaged sections.
Wythburn to Helvellyn Thirlmere. This bridleway is probably the worst affected fell path from Storm Desmond, and one of the highest priority repair jobs. The impressive repair works from 2003 had been very effective in reducing the significant scar and had survived significant storm events in 2005, 2008 and 2009. Unfortunately this time though, multiple cross drains were washed away, allowing water to cascade down the path stripping out material and spreading it widely. Subsequent rainfall is washing away further material. Disappointingly, this path is ineligible for RPA funding, so we will be doing what is needed thanks to a grant from Friends of the Lake District. The repairs involve re-subsoiling, but require a specialized digger.
Striding and Swirral Edges Glenridding No further work is planned, but these routes are kept on the list as new lines can develop depending on what snow fields stay and for how long. Time will be allocated to rectify problems if need be.
Hollowstones, Lingmell Col, Lingmell to Summit Wasdale. Work on these routes will be to improve drainage, landscape out developing side paths, and in one place to move a fallen boulder that is now blocking the old route causing new braids to appear.
Brown Tongue Wasdale. This is a continuation of previous years. Old, narrow, substandard pitching by modern standards is being replaced with more drainage, wider, and to a modern standard, requiring a helicopter lift. The section to be carried out in 2018 is the next section above the work done in 2017: well above the beck crossing but not yet as high as the Hollowstones junction.
Martcrag Moor Langdale. Some years ago the path from Pike of Stickle to Stake Pass was stabilised across one particular bog and along a section of multiple braids and gullies. That path is still in good condition, but elsewhere the organic line has deteriorated and erosion damage is widening. The vegetation and soils here are vulnerable, so a further length will be repaired by hand using aggregate materials mostly found on site.