Lake District footpath fund launched

£300,000 is needed to save paths in the Lake District after years of traditional Lakes weather and high footfall take its toll.

Two thousand metres (1.25 miles) of routes on National Trust land, including one to England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike, need replacing in the next two years at a cost of £160 per metre or £250,000 per mile.

A striking view of walkers on the Scafell path with Wastwater in the distance at Wasdale, Cumbria. National Trust images, Joe Cornish

Walkers on the Scafell path

The National Trust looks after 20% of the Lake District and now spends an average of £200,000 per year on path maintenance in the area. Though Lottery Funding has in the past been very generous, path erosion is still a significant problem, and the conservation charity needs public support to meet the rising costs.

The combination of increased visitor numbers this summer compared to last year and the extreme weather the region experienced at the start of the year has meant that the requirement for path maintenance and restoration has reached a critical level.

Stonepitching Cat Bells on Black Crag, on the Western side of Derwentwater ©National Trust Images/Paul Harris

Stonepitching Cat Bells on Black Crag

With public support for the appeal, National Trust rangers will create drainage channels so paths are not washed away in storms and use traditional methods like stone-pitching, first used by the Romans, and sheep fleecing. The twenty-part ITV show ‘Inside the National Trust’ that airs for the first time today (Sundays, 12.25pm) follows the Lakes footpath team as they carry out this essential work.

Ian Griffiths, National Trust footpath ranger and star of ITV’s ‘Inside the National Trust’, said: “Walking in the Lakes has been more popular than ever this year and it is fantastic so many people are exploring our incredible national park on foot.

“But with this comes hard graft from the footpath team as we try to keep the paths open to more than 15 million visitors each year while minimising the damage to the fells and protecting their natural beauty.

“If all those people who love the Lakes could give a little something back, we can continue our work even in the face of extreme erosion. We could be looking at landslides, loss of habitats and water pollution if we don’t raise the money.”

View looking north from the summit of Catbells (NT ), Derwentwater, Lake District. (C) National Trust images/Joe Cornish

View looking north from the summit of Catbells, Derwentwater

Key areas affected:

– Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain and famous for the Three Peaks challenge, has suffered major erosion in recent years. In the next two years, the major route from Angle Tarn to Esk House needs to be repaired using a helicopter to fly stones to the site.

– One of Wainwright’s favourite walks, Red Tarn to Crinkle Crags is part of a very popular circular route from Langdale and is growing wider every year leaving a visible scar. . With the help of volunteers, rangers plan to narrow the path with a combination of stone pitching and re-alignment will be involved to solve the problem and so stone is required for landscaping, drainage and stabilising the steeper slopes.

– Historic routes are under threat, with many of the paths in the Lake District evolving from old sheep routes dating back to medieval monasteries. Some routes date back to Neolithic times, when stone axes from Langdale were traded across the country and even as far as Europe.

– A major route to the mountain of Helvellyn, Swirral Edge, one of the classic ‘edges’ of the Lake District, is already undergoing work to encourage walkers to stay closer to the top of the ridge and not stray down the side and cause damage. The next phase of the repair work is stone-pitching work with an estimated 30 bags of stone.

To support the charity’s appeal and to find out more, visit

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