Fixing footpath erosion – reducing the soil in our lakes

Having delivered a great introduction to their work as part of our talks programme the Fix the Fells National Trust Upland Footpath Team organised a hands on day for volunteers in early April. The team maintain and construct footpaths to control soil erosion and protect the ecology and archaeology of the high fells. They chose Stake Pass above Langdale on the edge of the catchment as the work party location. This dramatic mountain pass is on one of the steepest parts of the Cumbria Way and is prone to erosion and in frequent need of TLC. A variety of techniques developed through experience are employed with an emphasis on using local materials. Rock for ‘pitching’ the steep sections is taken from fell summits by helicopter; flatter surfaces are made with ‘till’, glaciated material lying under the turf.  The angle or pitch of the of the paths is key in preventing run off erosion, nothing steeper than 17o, this means bends but walkers being human cut corners causing erosion. Herdwick sheep are an unlikely source of footpath material but in boggy sections their rolled fleeces sink and combine with the bog to provide a solid base for the path which doesn’t rot. This comfy surface is great to walk on and one of the teams trick to try and keep us all on track. Volunteers are always welcome to join in with this physical work so if you enjoy walking, cycling, etc, the paths this could be your chance to see the landscape from a unique point of view! We’re hoping to create a formal link between our Sustainable Outdoor Recreational events project and Fix the Fells to support their great work J.

Based on article written by Alison Ewin our volunteer Roving Reporter

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