Fix the Fells manages over 300 fell paths across the Lake District. It needs half a million pounds a year to maintain them, in addition to 2000 days of volunteer time. There is no statutory funding for this work. Fix the Fells has to raise all this money from the general public, or else the fell paths will erode away, damaging the landscape and the cultural interest of this beautiful World Heritage Site. It is never ending work.
Back in 1999, there were over 150 seriously eroded upland paths in the Lake District. The worst was 35 metres wide. Another was over 3 metres deep. We needed over £5 million to repair them. 10 years of consistent hard work by skilled path repair specialists was needed to do the work. There was no money. Fix the Fells didn’t exist. There was no organisation for volunteers.
The Heritage Lottery Fund came up trumps with two funding grants over a 10 year period to clear the main backlog of erosion damage. We could employ and keep highly skilled path workers to carry out the work. The National Trust have retained and increased this team. Half way through the programme, we started a volunteer ‘Lengthsmen’ scheme to cover the maintenance. This started with just a few folk carrying out the occasional ‘drain run’. 10 years later and we have over 100 skilled and conscientious volunteers, carrying out around 2000 days maintenance every year in all weathers.
We’ll carry on this work into the future. But we need the help of every lover of the Lake District. Please use the fells with care, and donate to Fix the Fells.
I am delighted to have recently received the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild (OWPG) Golden Eagle Lifetime Achievement Award for outstanding services to the outdoors. I have been really lucky to spend the last 18 years working in the fells, doing my best to conserve their beauty, and working with a fantastic team of people. I am very grateful to the OWPG for recognising the importance of this work, and their help over the years to spread the word.
Author: Lake District National Park Fix the Fells Ranger, Richard Fox