Helicopters drop heavy bags of stones onto Scafell Pike to help Fix the Fells paths
23rd April 2021
Hundreds of bags of stone are being lifted on to England's highest mountain by helicopter as part of work to repair paths and prevent damage to the landscape.
Repair work is starting this week on five sections of footpath on the most popular route up to the summit of Scafell Pike in the Lake District, a war memorial cared for by the National Trust and top walking spot.
It is climbed by more than 250,000 walkers a year, and with more people enjoying spending time in nature and the easing of lockdown restrictions expected to see more visitors to the Lake District, even more are expected to tackle the ascent in 2021, the trust said.
But pressure from walkers and Cumbrian weather is leading to rapid erosion of paths, according to the conservation charity.
The Fix The Fells project, a partnership between the National Trust and four other organisations which care for paths in the Lake District, will be recommencing work on worn sections of path up from Wasdale Head.
It is hoped the work, which includes replacing stonework, defining the path and installing drains, will prevent further erosion, and protect environmentally-sensitive upland grassland habitat and the rare plants it supports.
Most of the work will be carried out by hand by a team of rangers using materials found on the mountain where possible, while 230 bags of stone are also being lifted on to the site by helicopters.
For repairs to one stretch of path, a 360-degree excavator is needed, which will be flown on to the mountain in pieces and reassembled by specialist contractors, the trust said.
The six-month project will concentrate on five sections of path totalling 1km (0.6 miles), with work on areas from the valley bottom to the summit.
With an updated version of the Countryside Code encouraging people to stick to paths, the National Trust is also urging visitors to help prevent further erosion by wearing the right footwear, staying on the path and not being afraid to get their boots muddy by walking through puddles instead of around them.
Walkers are also being encouraged to step to the side of the path to let others pass at a safe distance before returning to the path to continue their walk, to help stop paths widening and wearing down surrounding grassland.
Fix The Fells programme manager Joanne Backshall said: "It is wonderful that so many people are enjoying Scafell Pike and the surrounding peaks each year.
"Now more than ever, we're seeing more people reaping the benefits that spending time in nature can bring."
But she said: "With so many people using this route up Scafell Pike, human-related erosion is spiralling out of control and having a devastating effect on wildlife and habitats.
"The work we are doing to maintain and repair eroded footpaths on Scafell Pike is critically necessary to protect this iconic mountain, its environmentally sensitive habitats and this world-renowned scenic landscape, so that people can continue to enjoy this classic ascent and the natural beauty of the Lakes for years to come."