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.
Outline information on the paths under consideration for repair in 2019 is given below. For more information on our 2019 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.
Paths under consideration for repair
All repairs are subject to obtaining the land owner’s permission, the appropriate consents, the practicalities and the funding. The list is subject to change depending on these and other factors such as extreme weather events.
Grisedale to Hole in the Wall, Patterdale
This footpath is a popular route leading from Grisedale up to the foot of Striding Edge. The higher, steeper section received a lot of work around 20 years ago to stabilise the erosion and to narrow the path back down to a reasonable width from the wide erosion scar that existed before. Gradually, the section below has been widening and deepening, until Storm Desmond took out a considerable amount of material causing gullies in the path surface. The lower part was stone pitched to repair the damage and stabilise the path during the R2R project. Another section just above this will be stone pitched in 2019 to provide a hard wearing long term solution to the erosion there. Stone is on site.
Side Farm to Boredale Hause footpath, Patterdale (Coast to Coast)
The footpath suffered considerable damage during Storm Desmond. It is heavily used as part of the Coast to Coast route, and under the R2R project received work to increase and extend drains to effectively shed water more frequently and in higher capacity than before. For 2019, further works will involve stabilising the surface in several sections, where it is eroding away leading to further material loss and increased exposure of bedrock. Stone is on site to pitch up to steps, drains and culverts and increase pitching lengths where most needed.
Gowbarrow, Ullswater Way
Since the implementation of the Ullswater Way, this path has seen a considerable increase in use, and wear. The old path kept close to the wall, but at the steep section there is exposed bedrock, which few users wish to use, so they spread across the vegetation looking for easier footing. This spreads the erosion quite quickly, exposing more bedrock which exacerbates the problem. In order to try to stop the spread of damage, the proposal is to build a new path further from the wall at a steady gradient so as to preserve the topsoil. The new path will be surfaced with a suitable local aggregate (Threlkeld quarry is most likely) as there is no material on site, and possibly some stone if a section of pitching is needed.
Helm Crag to Braken Hause, Grasmere
This path is very popular as a relatively short walk out of Grasmere. It allows folk to reach the famous ‘Lion and Lamb’ summit and superb views without major effort. There has been considerable work to repair this path over the years. For 2019, there is some relatively minor work planned to improve drainage and contain users onto a narrower route to reduce the visual and environmental impact of access.
Far Easedale and Greenup Edge, Grasmere (Coast to Coast)
Another section of the Coast to Coast route which Storm Desmond severely damaged. 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. As a bridleway, the work will take consideration of all users, but being a steep site, stone pitching will have to be used in places to provide a stable surface.
The right of way path up Dovedale is currently eroding fairly rapidly. Water has got onto the path in a number of places, and is causing much material loss. This project will be carried out over two years. The first year will see installation of drainage, with the following year seeing some stone pitching to the worst gullied sections to try to stabilise the surface from further erosion. This path was surveyed in 2012, and has clearly continued to deteriorate since then.
From observation, this route has gradually become more popular over the years than the other Dovedale route, which takes a more sustainable line.
Striding & Swirral Edges, Helvellyn
These routes are monitored and repaired each year as new path lines develop. These are often caused by fell users being diverted by lingering snow fields. We assess them once the snow has melted and carry out remedial works if necessary. This usually consists of landscaping work to hide new emerging paths and re-alignment to encourage folk back onto the well worn hard surfaces rather than fragile and ecologically important arctic alpine vegetation.
Wansfell East, Ambleside
This path has had steady use, never as much as Wansfell’s west side, but still popular. Sections of this path have been managed and stabilised over the years with sections of landscaping, alignment and pitching. The plan for 2019 is to continue with this theme on another section that is braiding and gullying. Some stone work will be installed, for surfacing and drainage. We prioritise a job like this because of the threat to previous works if we don’t do it.
The bridleway that runs up to Walna Scar from the back of Stephenson Ground has been receiving minor works for a number of years, after a more major project some years ago resurfaced the middle section. Stone fords and drains have been installed to shed the water and the plan is to carry out more of this work, along with some landscaping to remove eroding braids. The original drains from when this was a quarry road have long since failed or grown in, and the work has become a higher priority with the increased use that this route now receives as an important link in particular for mountain biking.
Stake Pass & Martcrag Moor
The work here is a continuation of 2018 work at the same site. Path work on Martcrag Moor is to limit the damage to the fragile bog vegetation and peat, by concentrating pressure onto one line, and stabilising that line with sheepfleece base and local aggregate surface, dug from borrow pits. Fleece is on site, gathered from local sheep, and all the work is to be carried out by hand. On Stake Pass, minor works will improve drainage and remove emerging braids. This work has been highlighted by volunteers on regular maintenance duties.
Long Stile, Haweswater
Work on Long Stile was begun in 2018 and will be completed in 2019. The very top section of the path, where it significantly steepened before the summit plateau, had gullied considerably over the last few years. All the material had been washed down, creating a considerable fan of mobile, loose scree. The scree and gully are being stabilised and re-landscaped with stone pitching, with appropriate water management to prevent re-occurrence.
This path was repaired many years ago, using a style that would not be copied today. Over the years the stone has become polished and moved so the path is now tricky to negotiate and deters folk from staying on it. It is beyond the stage of straightforward repairs; the stone needs to be re-laid to create a better user surface, and the edges need re-landscaping to prevent further erosion. Stone will be re-used as far as possible, but more stone will be needed. This job will last a couple of years as there is some considerable length in need of work.
Scales Beck to Scales Tarn, Blencathra
The work on this path is actually below the tarn, alongside Scales Beck. The work carried out there some years ago has been very successful in stopping most of the erosion, but unfortunately there was already too much bedrock on the surface, so some of the stone has dropped out. It will be re-worked to stabilise any loose stone to extend the life of this path section. This is high priority work, as a large section of pitching could be in jeopardy if not stabilised. If the pitching failed, bedrock will be quickly exposed by users, which will lead to fairly rapid further erosion of the fellside. The more soil loss
Thorneythwaite Fell (Glaramara) Borrowdale
This path has seen considerable work over the years to stabilise the worst bits and to manage the gradual migration of the route. Not far under the surface, there is considerable glaciated bedrock, so when it becomes exposed by erosion, folk immediately start looking for another route, repeating the process and leading to ever wider, ever more obvious damage to the fell. The plan here
Stockley Bridge/Styhead Tarn/Stretcher Box, Great Gable
Another bridleway that has had various works carried out for at least 30 years. The plan is to carry out minor works on the section above the initial steep climb above Taylor Gill Force. This will involve improving the drainage, landscaping out emerging braids and removing developing steps caused by erosion of the path surface. Generally, these are issues identified by regular volunteer maintenance duties.
Broad Crag Col, Scafell Pike
No work has been carried out on this section before, and the erosion is now wide and extensive. Virtually all the vegetation has been obliterated either by erosion or by smothering from deposited material. Although a high priority, work has not been carried out before due to the remote location and lack of a clear plan to deal with the damage. This year, the plan is to carry out landscaping works by hand to try to define a line through the erosion that will stabilise some of the erosion, and direct folk onto a more robust and stable line. Water dispersal features will be essential to manage the flow. Due to the nature of the site and its geology, the work will be somewhat experimental and its success will be monitored.
Brown Tongue to Hollowstone, Scafell Pike
This is a continuation of previous year’s work. Old, narrow, substandard pitching is being replaced with new pitching, more drainage, wider, and to a modern standard, requiring a helicopter lift. Work is required above and below the beck crossing and up to the Hollowstones junction. This path is so heavily used that it requires annual attention. Experience shows that erosion rapidly gets out of hand on this path if nothing is done, so we are constantly trying to stay on top of problems.
Lingmell Breast from The Green, Scafell Pike
Similar to other paths on Scafell Pike, the footfall on this route is very high, particularly as it leads from the biggest and currently free parking area in Wasdale. This path has been suffering from extensive braiding, gullying and general degradation from heavy use. Work has been carried out over the years, but really needs a larger project to tackle the increasing problems. In 2018, the team were experimentally trying to repair this route solely with material won on site. In this location, there is some stone available, but not as good or as plentiful as we would normally use. As a result, the technique is involving a more cobbled nature, although there is still a priority to ensure good drainage, carefully landscaped braids, and a good walking surface to discourage further damage.
Scafell Pike Summit paths
Scafell Pike receives a vast number of users every year, all year, and particularly at all times of day and night. Group sizes can be very big, as such a high proportion of users are charity groups. As a result, paths are rapidly damaged and widened, particularly as many of the users will be inexperienced and trying to find soft vegetation to use. Maintenance and minor project work is endless to try to hold surfaces together, rationalize the spread of random cairns and to limit erosion where possible. All these works will be carried out by hand using locally won materials.
Various Wasdale Crags including Bursting Knott, Yewbarrow, Lingmell Nose, Piers Gill, Green Gable
Paths that run on and off bedrock are always vulnerable, as folk do not like to use bedrock, particularly when it is wet. Unfortunately, soil is particularly vulnerable in these locations, and will quickly be eroded away, along with any vegetation, if users try to avoid bedrock. Consequently, these points on the path network are particularly vulnerable, hence ongoing management. Mostly these sites will be managed using on site materials and landscaping techniques. Not doing this work risks previous stabilisation work as well as rapid erosion.