Our volunteers come from Cumbria and beyond. Some are retired and others work full time but they all have one thing in common – they love the fells!
There are 150 volunteers and they are referred to as “Lengthsmen”. This term comes from medieval times when lengthsmen would be paid to walk the length of the parish and repair any roads and unblock ditches.
Volunteers get involved in “work parties” which can include building drains, constructing handmade paths and removing pigeon holes. Much of this work is supervised by our rangers but unsupervised work parties also take place owing to the high level of skills developed. You can read more about path repair techniques here.
Ever seen people on the fells with spades and brooms? A key part of the work of volunteers are “drain runs”. This is effectively where drains are cleared of stones and vegetation to keep the water off the paths and areas of stone-pitching are swept to remove loose stones and soil to keep it easier to walk on. Drain runs can be done in small or large groups or even solo.
In 2018 volunteers broke all records and gifted 2,500 days on the mountain paths. They completed 645 drain runs in all weathers – a truly phenomenal year of work. We could not undertake the volume of Fix the Fells work without them and their enthusiasm makes the programme what it is.
The training is comprehensive and includes learning the practical skills of path maintenance and repair, navigation skills, first aid and manual handling. There are also opportunities to learn additional skills such as hedge laying and dry-stone walling. In return for this training, we ask all volunteers to commit to a minimum of 12 days every year.
We also have a few furry friends who sometimes accompany the volunteers on the fells, including Hamish the West Highland White. They spend their time “supervising” the work.