Work begins to fix footpaths on England’s highest mountain - Fix the Fells

Before and after image of extensive path erosion on Scafell Pike ©Fix the Fells
Before and after image of extensive path erosion on Scafell Pike (© Fix the Fells)

Work is underway to repair paths and prevent damage to the landscape on one of the Lake District’s most popular walking routes at Scafell Pike.

As England's highest mountain at 978 metres and World War I memorial, it is cared for by the National Trust and climbed by more than 250,000 people every year.

With more people enjoying spending time in nature and the easing of lockdown restrictions expected to lead to a rise in visitors to the Lake District over the coming months, it is anticipated that more visitors than ever will tackle the famous ascent in 2021.

The pressure of hundreds of thousands of boots and the Cumbrian weather is leading to rapid erosion of paths, which is now an annual maintenance challenge for the conservation charity.

Fix the Fells – a partnership between the National Trust and four other organisations which care for the paths in the Lake District – are this week recommencing work to repair worn sections of path on one of the most popular routes to Scafell Pike’s summit from Wasdale Head.

It is hoped the work will prevent further erosion in the landscape and protect the mountain’s fragile upland habit and the rare plants its supports.

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. Although the mountains will be here forever, they need ongoing care. 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.”

By repairing and creating more resilient paths better capable of managing increasing visitor numbers to the Lake District fells, Fix the Fells aims to reduce soil, gravel, stone and peat degradation in upland areas which results in the loss of rare upland habitats and species decline, as well as having an impact on rivers and lakes below as sediment is washed off fellsides.

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