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Work begins to repair footpaths on England’s highest mountain

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

Climbed by more than 250,000 people every year, England’s highest mountain at 978 metres is cared for by the National Trust.

With more people spending time in nature and the easing of lockdown restrictions, it is expected that more visitors than ever will be tackling the famous ascent in 2021.

However, the pressure of hundred of thousands of boots and the Cumbrian weather is causing a rapid erosion of paths. This is now an annual maintenance challenge for the conservation charity.

A partnership, called Fix the Fells between the National Trust and four other organisations, cares for the paths in the Lake District. This week they are 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 intended that the work will help 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: “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.”

The repair and creation of more resilient paths should help make managing increasing visitors numbers easier.

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.

The current six month repair project, which has just started on Scafell Pike, will concentrate on five sections of path totalling 1km in length and will see repairs and maintenance carried out from the valley bottom up to the summit top.

Alongside the recent relaunch of the Countryside Code reminding walkers to stick to the paths to help crops and wildlife, Fix the Fell are hopeful that visitors will help support the prevention of further erosion from damaging the Lakeland landscape.

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