Repairing and maintaining the ancient Lakeland paths is something of an uphill battle. Previously, the paths were cared for by the people using them; local people who realised that heavily worn pathways would spoil the iconic Lakeland landscape. These days, a combination of National Trust rangers, and a group of between 80 and 90 regular volunteers, carry out the vital work of maintaining the trails. Organising and overseeing the practical side of all this is Fix the Fells ranger, Richard Fox.
Working year round – and in all weathers – Richard’s day-to-day role sees him planning and supervising all the work carried out by Fix the Fells. That means he’s responsible for checking the Lakeland paths for the tell-tale signs of erosion, in addition to organising the movement of key materials, and guiding the efforts of the Fix the Fells volunteers. With 200 sections of path already repaired, Richard is showing no signs of slowing down – a further 120 paths have been identified as needing maintenance over the next ten years.
That’s where you come in. There is a multitude of ways for you to support the work that Richard and his teams are facing. First, whenever you’re exploring and enjoying the Lakes, try to stick to the paths. As Richard tells us, ‘People choose to walk around the muddier, or trickier, areas of a path. Unfortunately, this means that paths become wider as the grass around them is trampled. In some areas, paths have been widened to around 35 metres across – which is about the width of a motorway carriageway’. Sticking to the paths helps to protect the fragile grasses and plants that cover the Lake District, too.
The second way in which you can help is through donations. As Richard explained, the team are ‘constantly facing a funding shortfall that creates a huge backlog of work’. Just a small donation of £1 would help – the different techniques the team uses to repair the pathways are all traditional, and unfortunately they’re expensive as a result. In order to repair some of the more inaccessible paths, for instance, bulldozers have been taken apart and flown piece-by-piece by helicopter! In order for Fix the Fells to complete their ten-year plan, they’re hoping to raise £5 million – or about 35p from each Lakeland visitor this year. If you want to help, you can donate through the many collection boxes found throughout the Lakes, or online at http://www.fixthefells.co.uk/donate/.
The third way you can help Fix the Fells is by purchasing products from Granger’s range of cleaners and waterproofers! We’ve spent generations designing products that help to keep your outdoor gear looking and working as it should – and so we wanted to help keep the Lake District looking as it should, too. That’s why we’ve joined forces with George Fisher in Keswick. For every Granger’s product you buy from George Fisher this summer, we’ll donate 50p to the Fix the Fells team. You can find out more information about George Fisher, or buy online from them at www.georgefisher.co.uk.
The Lake District is one of Britain’s most beautiful National Parks, and has inspired countless visitors for centuries. The work done by Fix the Fells, and by their partners Nurture Lakeland and the National Trust, is hugely important in ensuring that the Lakes remain available – and inspirational – for all future generations to enjoy. For more information, please visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/