Basecamp helping Fix the Fells
This year we’ve worked closer than ever with the ever helpful SouthLakes upland path team. Our main job of the year on the path from Blea Tarn to Wrynose pass has now been completed to a good standard, great to see when you consider the work was mostly done by volunteer groups staying at the Basecamp. The accessibility of this job meant that we could give a real range of groups a taste of upland path work. Volunteers ranging from Brentwood House, a drop in support centre in Middleton to West Runton Scripture Union, a young person’s Christianholiday organisation all played their part in helping reduce the amount of feet trampling the very delicate moss (less technically, bog) below the path.
Outdoor studies students from Kendal college in particular had a real hand in this as they returned for a number of weeks in a row to really get a feel for a particular stretch of path and work on it from start to finish. After putting up with some very ‘difficult’ weather and doing some quite tricky work to close down multiple erosion scars we’re confident that if they’re leading groups in the hills in the future they’ll be keen to keep them on the path!
In June we were joined by a veritable army of Fix the Fells lengthsmen, along with the South Lakes and North Lakes upland team. At the top ofStake Pass above the Langdale valley we worked for three days to build a new sustainable path through an area that was becoming badly degraded as walkers hopped around to avoid the worst of a very boggy patch. We were using a technique we’ve utilized a couple of times now, building the path on sheep wool to ‘float’ it on top of the soft ground. It seems successful, but does involve a lot of digging and moving material around, so much so that we’d probably still be there now if it wasn’t for the fantastic help from so many volunteers.
We only had the one upland camping holiday this year, but it was our highest yet. For three nights the brave group camped at 2500 feet, working to slim down a widening scar where the path leads to the summit of Esk Pike. By cunning landscaping and route defining this gravelley and difficult climb has been turned into a much slimmer, winding path. Hopefully walkers will keep to this line and the grass will get a chance to re-colonise the bare earth on either side of it, an approach that we used to some success on neighbouring Bowfell a few years ago.
It’s been great to be involved with so much interesting upland work this year. However, many of the volunteers that come to Basecamp aren’t able to make it up to the fells so we’ve also been as busy as ever with our lowland jobs. Hundreds of hours have been spent removing invasive rhododendron from our woodlands and many metres of drystone walls have been rebuilt and hedges laid. We also finished our large project building the new path alongWrayBay, next to Windermere and have just refurbished the main access path to Hilltop, Beatrix Potter’s house.
So we’re looking ahead to next year now. It’s really helpful for us that Fix the Fells plans it’s work so far in advance as we can be sure that is plenty more for us to get stuck into.Uplandor lowland the work to look after our very special countryside is never complete ….