The job creation schemes set up in the 1980’s under the Manpower Services Commission supplied the first path repair workers to the west lakes in 1986 and 87. Working in partnership with local wardens, teams concentrated on drains and waths along lower stretches of paths such as black sail and sty head, most of which still survive.
The first full time NT funded team didn’t start till 1988, long after teams had already been established in Borrowdale and Langdale/Grasmere. The specific impetus to begin was the state of the brown tongue path to scafell pike from Wasdale head –a widely eroded scar visible for many miles.
The only problem was that there was only money for a 2 person team initially which made the task ahead rather daunting. Happily the major region wide fundraising push of the early 90’s eventually got numbers up to 4.
In 1994 the task of creating a new route bypassing brown tongue was complete - or so we thought – and we commemorated the event with an opening ceremony involving champagne and getting the local MP Jack Cunningham to pretend to be a keen fellwalker.
From the mid 90’s onwards the team broadened their remit to include Buttermere/Ennerdale which eventually led to a reshuffle once FTF funding allowed of creating another Wasdale team, for a while giving a region wide total of 5 teams.
Clearly the optimism of 1994 belonged to an innocent age when the spectre of 3 peaks challenges was just a twinkle in a charity fundraisers eye!