2023 Work Programme
Fix the Fells repairs and protects damage caused by erosion to the fragile upland landscapes in the Lake District National Park. In practise, this work is centred on upland paths as this is where traffic from path users combines with steeper gradients and water run-off to create conditions which can lead to rapid erosion and damage to upland habitats.
Fell path repair work is prioritised and agreed by the Fix the Fells Partnership Board, which comprises representatives from each of the five partner organisations; the National Trust, the Lake District National Park Authority, Friends of the Lake District, the Lake District Foundation and Natural England.
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 upland landscape, ecology and archaeology if not addressed. Our Ranger teams draw up detailed specifications 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 during 2023 is given below
Paths Identified for Work in 2023
All repairs are subject to securing permission from the land owner, the appropriate consents, practicalities and funding. The list is subject to change depending on these and other factors, such as extreme weather events.
Levers Water to Swirl Hause
One of the larger projects which will likely continue over into 2024. There is no clearly defined line so users are spreading out and causing several deep braids and erosion scars across this sensitive habitat. Work will be completed at intermittent sections along the path to address the most pressing issues Rangers will put in drainage, stepping stones, small sections of pitching, and other and soft landscaping and line definition techniques to keep people on a sustainable route.
Wythburn route up towards Helvellyn / Nethermost Pike
Work will be completed to close down parallel path lines into one sustainable route and to repair landscape damage. Both Rangers and volunteers will tackle a number of sections along this popular bridleway, putting in drainage, pitching and soft landscaping. As with many paths – the edges are particularly vulnerable to erosion. In a bid to address this, and at the same time deliver for Biodiversity, a number of temporary wooden tree enclosures have been planted with native broadleaves alongside the ROW. The success of this will be monitored and reviewed.
Far Easedale to Greenup Edge
This is part of the Coast to Coast path.
Various improvements will be made to this path in anticipation of the increased level of use and higher standards expected along a National Trail.
A mixed flag and aggregate path, installed by machine will guide users across the mere beck section at the head of Far Easedale. Not only will this aid navigation and enable erosion scars to recover, but it will have significant benefits to the surrounding peat hags which will be re-profiled as part of the path repair work.
Further South, along the section down towards Grasmere, a range of work will be undertaken by rangers and volunteers including pitching, stone revetment work and sensitive landscaping to protect the area from future erosion and provide a single line where users are currently spreading out.
Sticks Pass West
Working in partnership with Kendal College, Rangers will lead a series of work parties with Outdoor Studies students to repair damage to the path and the surrounding habitats.
Three Tarns to Bowfell
A very remote path near the summit of Bowfell where there is little formal pathwork . Drains and a small amount of pitching were built on this path many years ago to prevent water from scouring out deep gullies. Remedial work is required where one of these drains has fallen out and a small amount of stone pitching is needed to protect the route from further erosion.
Coniston Old Man
A number of short sections of work will be completed above and below Low Water to define the path line, containing the current spreading of the path, and managing water through drainage and enhancement of wet habitats beside the path. This will be undertaken by Rangers and volunteers.
Side Pike to Lingmoor South
Two small sections of work will be completed by Rangers and volunteers, primarily to repair gullying caused by water being channeled down the path. This will include drainage, some risers and potentially small sections of pitching, along with landscaping.
Scafell Pike above Hollowstones
Work on this path, one of the busiest and most popular in the Lake District, has been ongoing for a number of years, and will continue this year with further stone pitching and some landscaping to repair short cuts and parallel path lines which are damaging the area around the path. The work undertaken on this particular route up Scafell Pike is very different in character to the rest of Fix the Fells work. The path is much wider and quite a stark comparison to the subtle approach we strive to achieve. This deliberate design decision was taken after considerable thought about how to contain such a large number of users on to one single line in a bid to protect the surrounding landscape and habitat. It is hoped that in time the path will become less obvious and will blend more sensitively into its surroundings as vegetation recolonizes and the surrounding habitat is given the space and time to recover.
Another popular path linking to the main Scafell Pike path. Landscaping, small sections of stone pitching and drains will be installed, to keep water of the path and address braiding of the path and to define it into one line, which will be more robust to use.
The various summit paths around the Scafell Massiff have very little in the way of formal pathwork. To encourage and maintain a clearly defined line through these rocky landscapes our rangers undertake very “light touch” work including subtle path definition by careful positioning of boulders and other subtle interventions. It is unlikely that the work on these paths would be noticeable and this is exactly the intention.
Peggys Bridge to Scarth Gap
As with the Scafell Summit Paths, this area around Haystacks has very little in the way of formal pathwork – however water is beginning to scour out a deep gully. A short project to construct a stone drain will take water away from the path and therefore reduce erosion from run-off before any more radical intervention is required.
The Ranger team will continue work started 2018, tackling two main sections. Lower down the path, drains and pitching which are no longer in tip-top shape will be shored up, repaired or replaced . Further up the path, drainage and pitching will address the most significant sections of erosion where there is deep gullying.
Volunteers will work with the Ranger team to continue this ongoing project as Gowbarrow continues to see rapid growth in popularity. Aggregate will be used to lay paths across badly eroded and wet sections, along with the installation of drains. Trees will also be strategically planted to help hold together the soil and to encourage path users to stay on the path.
While this work is in progress the Rangers have had to erect some temporary post and rail fencing to keep people away from the most vulnerable sections where vegetation needs the space and time to recover.
Stythwaite Steps to Bracken Hause
This path has become very popular with walkers as a descent route back to Grasmere from Helm Crag. A large scar had developed where people were descending down a steep slope across loose stone. In a continuation of work from previous years, the final sections of stone pitching and stone drains will be completed to provide a single sustainable line through the most eroded sections.
Two locations will be worked on this year. Close to the miners hut, stone pitching is falling out and water is running down the path causing deep gulling and erosion across an ecologically rich habitat. The pitching will be shored up and a drain will take water away from the path. Towards the top section, erosion and braiding has caused large sections of the peat to become exposed and vulnerable to drying out and leaching Carbon. With a path line defined, hags re-profiled by hand, and stone put in place to dam eroding peat it is hoped that the work here will showcase how integral pathwork is to delivering biodiversity objectives.
Work started in 2022 will be continued. A highly sensitive site in the heart of the High Fells SAC and Buttermere SSSI – this project required a creative approach due to the scarcity of stone in the vicinity and the extent of the work that was required up this popular Wainwright. ( Although it may appear plentiful to most people , the ecological significance and importance of these upland scree slopes means that they are not acceptable sources of stone for our work ) Failing pitching will be repaired ( using repurposed onsite stone from previous pathwork ), drains will be reinforced , but the majority of the work will take the form of a hand built aggregate zig zag path which will be provide a sustainable line for people to walk on . The biggest challenge on routes like this is keeping people on the line – especially on descent when there is a tendency to shortcut at the corners which can cause significant damage.
Styhead Tarn to Esk Hause
A continuation of 2022 work. Work will be completed by Rangers and Volunteers along this popular route where Gullying caused by erosion will be addressed through stone pitching, drainage and landscaping.
Erosion has led to gullying, and this will be addressed through the removal of old stone pitching, which will then be recycled back into the ground to support a revetment and bench path, ( hand built zig zag line constructed by removing the surface vegetation and cutting into the cross fall of a hillside ) which will take a more sustainable route through the damaged section. A further 6m of bench path, along with drainage over a rocky area, will be completed further up the fell.
Esk Hause Shelter to Calf Cove
Stone pitching which is falling out will be repaired, and landscaping will be completed to define a sustainable path route which will protect the integrity and ecological diversity of a boggy area.
The need for erosion repair and mitigation on this ever-popular fell is ongoing and throughout the 2023 season, Rangers will host volunteer work parties twice a month, to define and landscape around the path in order to create a sustainable route and protect the surrounding fell-side.
The mid-section of The Band is characterized by boggy, peaty patches. Short sections of pitching and new drains will be installed to take water off the path and provide a single sustainable line.
Stepping stones, causeways and sections of pitching will be put in, to reduce erosion and to protect the landscape going forward.
Mickelden to Stake Pass
In partnership with the British Mountaineering Council, a number of crucial jobs will be completed, including improvements to drainage, path definition and landscaping.
Ongoing Maintenance and Minor Repairs
The 400 sections of path that have been worked on and monitored in previous years will continue to be maintained on 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. This varies from once or twice a year, to every two months for some of the most heavily used paths. In addition, Fix the Fells Rangers and volunteers undertake a broad programme of minor repair works, particularly on well used paths and popular mountain routes.
Minor repairs will be carried out by volunteers on a number of additional paths throughout the season under the supervision and guidance of a specialist volunteer development ranger . This ability to respond in a timely manner to reports of minor issues can prevent problems from escalating in scale and urgency but there is always SO much more than we have the time, money or resource to tackle .
Please play your part by treading lightly and sticking to a sustainable surface if there is one so we can all continue to enjoy this special place for many generations to come.