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Volunteer Fell Fixers put their Gannett Foundation grant to good use

A team of Fix the Fells Volunteer Lengthsmen celebrating the completion of path repairs on Wansfell, Ambleside

[F]ix the Fells Volunteer Lengthsmen have been busy repairing and maintaining upland fell paths in the South Lakes with thanks to the help of £3,000 funding gratefully received from the Gannett Foundation at the start of the year.

Over 83 volunteers have now spent more than 704 days in the first seven months of 2018 looking after the paths in the South & Central Lakes.

This has included 179 “drain runs” which involve volunteers venturing on to the fells in all weathers to clear the drainage channels in the paths. This makes sure damaging water is shed from the path surface so that erosion is reduced.

The volunteers have also undertaken 55 “work parties” to repair sections of path, contributing over 380 days of hard, physical work. This involves stone pitching paths, building drains and re-landscaping erosion.

The paths they have maintained and repaired include those around the Langdale valley, in the Coniston area and around Grasmere. They have completed some repairs to the path up the beautiful Sourmilk Gill near Grasmere and also to the popular path up Wansfell from Ambleside. The Wansfell path repairs took 15 visits and 109 days of volunteer effort.

Fix the Fells Volunteer Lengthsmen building a drain to disperse damaging rainwater from the path on Wansfell, Ambleside

Chris J Wood, Fix the Fells Volunteer Lengthsman, who helped on all 15 work party days, said, “Enjoyable project, learned a lot too. The team’s efforts are there for all to see, great positive feedback from walkers. A walk up Wansfell is recommended…. get those boots on!”

Jon Whiteley, Fix the Fells Volunteer Lengthsman, who completed 13 of the 15 work party days, said, “It’s been great fun working up there, starting in the frozen ground and finishing in summer heat. Best of all, we’ve had so many positive comments from walkers.”

Joanne Backshall, Fix the Fells Programme Manager, said, “The Fix the Fells volunteers do an amazing job of repairing and maintain the Lake District fell paths and landscape. Millions of visitors to the Lakes each year are taking their toll on the fragile mountain environment and without Fix the Fells and the help of the volunteers, the upland paths would continue to deteriorate into ugly erosion scars.

“We are extremely grateful for the generous donation from the Gannett Foundation which is invaluable in contributing to the travel costs of the volunteers as they go about their work in the South Lakes every week of the year.”

The £3,000 has been awarded by the Gannett Foundation, the charitable arm of Gannett Co Inc, the parent company of Newsquest Media Group, whose titles include The Westmoreland Gazette.

Awards are made to registered charities and in the last ten years the Foundation has donated millions of pounds to Charities.

Fix the Fells is a partnership programme between the National Trust, the Lake District National Park, Natural England, Friends of the Lake District and the Lake District Foundation.

The aim of the Fix the Fells partnership is to protect the spectacular Lakeland fells from erosion and damage by repairing and maintaining the upland paths of the Lake District.

Fix the Fells needs £500,000 a year to complete its upland path repair work and this comes from donations and grants. All financial support is gratefully received and more information on how to do this can be found on our website www.fixthefells.co.uk.

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