2022 Work Programme

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.

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 during 2022 is given below. For more information please contact Annie Duckworth (Fix the Fells Ranger) annie.duckworth@lakedistrict.gov.uk

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.

Far Easedale to Greenup Edge
A section of the Coast to Coast route that has been worked on over a number of years. As a bridleway, work will take into consideration all users. Traditional stone pitching will be used on the steeper sections. Where the path crosses boggy areas a version of pitching that allows water to flow across the path will be used. This is a particularly effective technique on very wet areas , rather than trying to funnel water onto one point.

Stythwaite Steps to Easedale Tarn
Part of an extremely popular circular walk from Grasmere village, this path has been worked on since the early 1990s, with the last work undertaken in 2003. Since then, increased visitor numbers have rendered much of this work obsolete, so work in 2022 we will focus on replacing and upgrading much of this and repairing unworked sections. The steepest sections will be stone pitched, side paths will be re-aligned and removed and drainage installed.

Bracken Hause to Stythwaite Steps
A relatively new erosion problem on a path that was small and little used up until 2010. An increase in popularity after the ‘Wainwright Walks’ TV series and the appearance of the route on tourist information leaflets, coupled with the steepness of terrain and proximity to a stream has helped to accelerate the erosion problem. A first detailed repair specification was written in 2012, but never completed due to lack of funding and other priorities. On a revisit and specification update in 2019, the erosion had worsened as the path had merged with the stream. By 2021 the top 50m of the path, not addressed in the 2019 specification was showing significant erosion problems. The work will comprise defining a line away from the stream by stone pitching the steeper sections, installing drains to address water issues and providing a stream crossing point. This work will continue in 2023.

Helm Crag
The main path from Grasmere village to the summit of this very popular fell. Erosion issues were first tackled in the late 1980s , with a significant re-routing of the path line. The path was worked on periodically, then in 2012 a year long project rebuilt entire sections. The BBC’s ‘Wainwright Walks’ series further increased its popularity, and more recently, high numbers of people visiting the area during the COVID pandemic has exacerbated the scale and extent of erosion issues, with both worked and unworked sections of path showing significant erosion. 2022 is year 1 of a 2 year project that will include pitching , landscaping and improvements to drainage .

Loughrigg Terrace to Summit
Another very popular path, easily accessible from Grasmere and Ambleside that has been worked on since the late 1980’s . Repairs have never been a total success due to a number of factors including difficult ground conditions and the sheer numbers of people using the path. 2022 is the third year of a 4 year project to comprehensively address these issues and will involve replacing old stone pitching on the steep and gullied sections, protecting and extending existing work with pitching and drainage and reducing the rate of erosion on unworked sections by installing stone cross drains. This path is one of our most high profile and visible worksites, with the potential to showcase what we do to a very wide and varied audience.

Wansfell East
One of the Lake District’s ‘honeypot’ paths, this route is part of an extremely popular and busy path generally walked as a round route from Ambleside. It can attract a broad spread of path users of all abilities, often including less experienced fell users and possibly will be many people’s first experience of an upland path. As such it requires a very clearly defined path that does not pose too many challenges to give the best chance of keeping path users on the more sustainable surface and not eroding the surrounding hillside. The eastern side has been mostly worked on by volunteer groups, with much of this work undertaken in the mid 2000s. The work has held up reasonably well until recent years, where multiple side routes have started to develop and quickly worsen. Work will focus on many of these sections, opening out and improving the path surface, shoring up pitching and drainage now in danger of falling out and, once the path is sufficiently attractive, closing down and landscaping out side routes.

Garburn to Yoke
A quite high level path, usually tackled by fell users as part of the Kentmere Horseshoe. The path can see a good flow of traffic all year round. Much of the length consists of a machine built path across peat bog, which has done a great job of keeping users to one sustainable line. After a gate through a wall a steeper stretch leads up to the summit of The Yoke, where ‘end on’ slate pitching was built in the early 2000s to arrest significant erosion. In places this is becoming undermined and these sections are encouraging fell users to walk to the side of the path, causing a quickly worsening erosion problem. Work here will focus on shoring up the sections of pitching to make the path a more attractive proposition once more, along with closing off the side routes. Lower down, the path crossing a stretch of very wet and boggy ground where consideration is being given to installing a gravel path similar to the machine built path this section leads on from.

Raven’s Edge
A faily low key path that leads up from the top of the Kirkstone Pass to the higher fells, this path has some quite significant ongoing erosion issues due to the fragile nature of the ground. Work has been carried out over many years, mainly with supervised volunteer groups and will focus mainly on installing further stepping stones and causeways across boggy areas to link into already existing stretches. In a number of places, attempts will be made to build a sub soil/gravel surfaced path using material won locally – it is unknown how successful this will be until the work is started but if it can be shown to work this will reduce the amount of stone sourced and flown as well as provide a model for future works in other areas.

Wythburn to Helvellyn
One of the main access routes to Helvellyn, works from 2003 had survived multiple storm events up until storm Desmond when many drains were washed away. Subsequent rainfall has stripped away surface material. Some work was completed by volunteers in 2021. The 2022 works will concentrate on pinning a badly undercut, long stretch of pitching and planting trees to block developing shortcuts.

Sticks Pass West
A lesser used access route to the Helvellyn range, not much work has been done on this path in the past but it is now showing signs of considerable damage on the steeper sections. As there is no available stone in the locality attempts will be made to enact repairs using a combination of hand built subsoil paths, bench paths and tree planting to block short cuts. Taking this approach will not only avoid the need for collecting and flying stone but also hopefully develop newer techniques that can be applied to other routes in the future.

Greenside Mines to Red Tarn
This route – one of the most popular access points to Helvellyn was the first sub-soiled path in Lake District (1996 ), and only small sections have needed to be reworked since . ( 2002 and again in 2010.) Work this year will be the most significant in the paths 25 year history and will be undertaken on separate sections along the entire length of the path . It will include reworking entire sections , clearing out side drains , blocking off side paths and reinstating regular aggregate cross drains .

Mickleden to Stake Pass
Quite a busy route that sees people using it both as part of a popular round walk taking in the Langdale Pikes and as part of the Cumbria Way. This part is the old link between Langdale and Borrowdale and was used both as a coffin route and also by ponies. The steeper sections are a long series of zigzags, surfaced with old style pitching. Here, work will follow on from that started in 2021, shutting off developing shortcuts, installing risers in gullies and shoring up undermined pitching using materials won locally. Higher up in Langdale Coombe the path levels out somewhat and narrows. In many places path users are walking to the side of the path and taking shortcuts through wet and vulnerable ground, work will focus on cutting off these shortcuts and encouraging people to stay on the path by improving both the path surface and drainage. Local materials will again be used, except for one position where some stone will be flown for construction of a stone causeway.

Martcrag Moor
Part of a popular round route over the Langdale Pikes this route sees a steady flow of traffic and in many places crosses fragile peat bog. Some longer stretches of path have been built on sheep fleece using glacial tilth mined from local borrow pits. This work was first started in 2006 by the southern upland path team, with subsequent sections being constructed by supervised volunteer groups. Work in 2022 will consist of completing the last of some smaller sections of pitching and drainage, as well as some repairs to a sheep fleece path installed in 2018 that has been damaged by recent storms most likely due to having inadequate drainage when first constructed.

Three Tarns to Bowfell
A reasonably busy path included in various routes above the Langdale valley; to access Bowfell, as part of the Langdale horseshoe or a high level route to Scafell Pike. Previous years have attempted to stabilise a clear line through a loose surfaced gully, where it is not felt appropriate to build a long stretch of hard, fixed stone pitched path. This year’s work will be to install a final drain and a short length of pitching leading up to it near the top of the gulley.

The Band
A busy path that leads from the head of the Langdale valley up towards the popular peaks of Bowfell and Crinkle Crags, this is a long and gradually ascending path of around 3 miles. The steeper sections were pitched in the early 2000s and this work has held up very well, helping to protect the surrounding landscape. However, many of the less steep sections are now showing signs of significant braiding with multiple trods developing that, if left, could merge into wider erosion scars. Work, started in 2021, is needed in many separate smaller areas along the whole length of the path and will continue in 2022. In many areas this consists of landscaping and route definition using locally won materials, but there are also some sections where pitching, drainage and revetments will be repaired or built using stone flown by helicopter.

Swirl Hawse to Wetherlam
This path forms part of the popular Wetherlam round . Very little work has been done here in the past but the increasing footfall has meant that thin soils and vegetation have eroded away leading to wide areas of exposed gravel where people have spread out. The work this year will involve careful positioning of stone to clearly define the path line in an attempt to prevent further damage and allow vegetation to recover.

Levers Water to Swirl Hawse
Another well used route in the popular Coniston fells that has seen steady deterioration over the last few years . The erosion is particularly problematic in an area where people are spreading out to try and find a dry route underfoot . Stone pitching and cross drains will be built with the help of volunteers to try and manage the erosion here .

Coniston Old Man upper
The main summit path up Coniston Old Man is busy all year round. A huge number of people walk up this popular Wainwright via Low Water – with record numbers of visitors being seen during the COVID pandemic. We have undertaken a great deal of work on this path over recent years including pitching, landscaping, drainage and blocking off side routes. This year the team will be back to finish off the latest round of works which will include general landscaping, maintenance and tasks such as re seeding.

Walna Scar to Goats Hause
Part of a couple of very busy round routes including the summit of the Coniston Old Man and Dow Crag. Hand work by volunteer groups was started in 2021 and will continue in 2022. On the upper section this includes some stone pitching and drainage, along with work to remove and recover increasing path braiding that is threatening to damage previous works. The bottom section of this popular route has become particularly braided in places due to a combination of footfall , water and gradient and a small digger will work on this section to re-profile the soil to create a single line rather than the multiple braids that have developed .

Stephenson Ground
A quieter and less well known section of the South western Fells , this bridleway which runs between Stephensons Ground (nr Broughton Moor )and the Walna Scar Road is a popular route for Mountain Bikers . Some work has been done here in the past. This year, the main work will focus on tackling the deep gullying and erosion that has developed near the old quarries . A small machine will re-profile the soil to create a single line rather than the multiple braids that have developed

Gowbarrow
A very popular and accessible summit, part of a circular walk from the National Trust’s Aira Force and the recently created Ullswater Way route. Huge increases in visitor numbers over recent years have seen sections of the path that have previously not shown signs of stress begin to quickly deteriorate. 2022 is a continuation of work started in 2019, with repairs this year to be undertaken mainly with supervised volunteer work parties and involving installing an aggregate path with extensive drainage, including stone cross drains, turf drains and side trenches.

Angle Tarn to Boredale Hause
The route to Angle Tarn from Boredale Hause has one small section of existing machine path, first worked in 2008. This will be reworked in 2022 along with other sections which have seen considerable deterioration over the last few years . Rather than one continuous section of subsoiling, the works will be staggered to address the worst sections of damage. In particular, the section of path around the North of the Tarn is showing deep gullying and braiding in places which will only get worse if left as is . A machine built subsoil path with turfed side drains will be constructed to tackle the erosion here. As well as protecting the surrounding vegetation and aesthetics of the area, we hope to deliver an ecological benefit to the tarn by stabilising the soil to prevent further siltation.

Barf
No previous path management work has been done on this section of open moorland above Whinlatter Forest. However peat degradation and erosion has reached a point where intervention is required to protect the area’s vulnerable vegetation. The gradient and terrain of this site make it eminently suitable for a machine sub-soil path which will be created using on-site materials. A sustainable path surface will be created with a turf lined side drain to keep people on a single line and, in time, allow the surrounding vegetation to recover.

Rosthwaite to Watendlath
A popular low level route between Watendlath and Rosthwaite, this route has three drains that are no longer diverting water from the path. After some work was competed in 2021 the shore up the bottom of the old cobbled pitching these drains will be reconstructed in 2022 with due consideration of all users given the bridleway status.

Stonethwaite to Greenup Edge
A well used path that forms part of the Coast to Coast route, so can see less experienced users. The path now needs work at various points along its entire length, with areas of badly damaged peat at the highest point to be tackled by machine (see entry below). The hand work will cover a great variety of techniques, with some boggy areas crossed by stepping stones and causeways and drains and unsuitable old pitching re-built. In addition some new pitching will be installed where necessary and extensive landscaping carried out. Much of this work will be undertaken with supervised volunteer groups.

Greenup Edge
One of the most remote sections of the Coast to Coast long distance path , this boggy plateau between Borrowdale and Grasmere is walked by people from all over the world . Navigation is challenging on this section, and a large number of different routes or lines across the peat have developed, causing widespread braiding and damage to an ecologically important habitat. It takes only a short time for desire lines to become well established and once the vegetation has been trampled these lines soon turn into deep gullies- worsening the rate and extent of peat degradation. The significant depth of the peat on this site coupled with its remote location limits the options of work that are viable. A 500m mixed flag and aggregate path will be created to tackle the worst of the erosion and as a Bridleway the design will need to take into consideration the needs of all users.

Greenup Edge to High Raise
Concerns about the increasing erosion damage on this route have been growing over recent years. Braiding, gullying and extensive erosion have got steadily worse. A number of factors including the extent of the damage, the gradient and the terrain all point to a machine sub-soiled path being the most suitable and appropriate technique to use here . A sub-soiled path with turfed side drains and aggregate cross drains will be constructed to provide a robust and sustainable natural surface to keep people on a single line and allow the surrounding vegetation to recover over time.

Rigg Head to Dalehead Tarn
A relatively little known path that still attracts a steady flow of fell users. The top section of this route, just before it meets the open fell, goes across an extensive area of peat which is badly eroded with deepening gullies. The path will be diverted to the left and a slate lined side drain will be installed here as there is evidence of scouring. The stone for this work was flown in 2021 and some of the work will be carried out by supervised volunteer work parties.

Whiteless Pike
Whiteless Pike has been worked on for many years – employing traditional techniques such as stone pitching. However sourcing stone in this locality is particularly challenging due to the areas nationally important ecology (communities of rare plants often colonise piles of stone). The original work planned for 2021 included repairing and extending sections of stone pitching however a lack of available stone led us to rethink options for this popular Wainwright fell. The revised plan for 2022 will instead focus on a hand built bench path – removing the old pitching and instead creating a landscaped sustainable line on the longer and less steep sections of the route, utilising the redundant stones to pitch on the steeper sections. No additional stone will be required to implement this work and the conservation gains in terms of erosion management will be closely monitored to judge how successful the approach has been.

Scale Force
Rangers and volunteers will work together on this project to try and encourage people back onto the existing stone pitched path through landscaping and by blocking side routes.

Peggy’s Bridge to Scarth Gap
This popular bridleway is used to get to both Haystacks and the High Stile ridge. It has suffered moderate damage along the entire route, with work being completed on several short sections of pitching in 2017 along with landscaping to address gullied damage and installation of new stone cross drains to reduce water flow. Revetments were built in a couple of locations to support the path where it had collapsed. Further work was started in 2021 and will be completed in 2022, mainly consisting of landscaping to keep users on the path line and prevent expansion of erosion issues.

Scarth Gap to Haystacks
A fairly popular fell that can attract inexperienced users but includes some steep and tricky sections that they find difficult. Many of these sections have now worn down to bedrock, which can intimidate path users and cause them to look for another way round, expanding the problem. Work in 2022 will continue that started in 2021, directing people across the bedrock – a sustainable surface – by cutting off established but unsustainable shortcuts.

Great Gable Breast Route
A well used path that is the most common way to access the very popular top of Great Gable. This path had extensive pitching installing in the 1990s which has served very well over the years. However, some of this is now becoming undermined so will be shored up to prevent it falling out and more extensive damage occurring.

Styhead Tarn to Esk Hause
A quite well known path used to link various routes to and from the higher fells. This path will have drainage improved by installation of new stone drains and existing pitching shored up to prevent it falling out and damage increasing.

Esk Hause to Calf Cove
A high level route used to access Scafell Pike, this path needs remedial repairs to preserve existing work and prevent more work being required in future. Some existing pitching is falling out on the section running up behind Great End and will be shored up to prevent further damage.

Brown Tongue
Possibly the most popular path in the Lake District, this is the main route used to access England’s highest mountain and sees such a heavy level of use that it requires annual attention. Work here has been ongoing for many years as experience has shown that erosion quickly gets out of hand if nothing is done. This year’s work will mainly concentrate on replacing old, narrow and substandard pitching that simply cannot cope with the level of traffic and installing newer and wider pitching with more drainage, to a modern standard. Some of the work will focus on the beck crossing where people are spreading out to look for a suitable crossing point when the water is high. Here, the path line will be better defined to give people confidence to cross at the right point. Higher up, more pitching will be installed – a temporary fence was constructed in 2021 to keep people off the work site.

Lingmell Breast
Similar to other paths on Scafell Pike, the footfall on this path is very high, particularly as it leads from the biggest and currently free parking area in Wasdale. The path has been suffering from extensive braiding, gullying and general degradation from this heavy use and although it has had work carried out over many years it really needs a larger project to tackle the increasing problems. Since 2018, experimental techniques have been attempted to try to repair damage solely with material won on site and while this technique won’t work in every location, results here have been encouraging. This work will be re-visited in 2022 and further landscaping carried out where necessary.

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 large as a high proportion of users are charity groups. As a result, paths are rapidly damaged and widened due to many of the users being inexperienced and more likely to look for soft vegetation to walk on. Maintenance and minor project work is endless to try to hold surfaces together, rationalise the spread of random cairns and limit erosion where possible. All these works will be carried out by hand using locally won materials and following early season surveys to decide on the amount of intervention required.
Our approach on the high level summit paths has always been one of very low key intervention . Where erosion and braiding is becoming a problem our main aim is to try and keep people on a single line rather than spreading out and creating wider damage . As in previous years we will be blocking of any side routes and braids through soft landscaping and very subtle positioning of stone .

 

Maintenance

The 300+ 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 and popular mountain routes.

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