The Wild Goat Festival is supporting the work of Fix the Fells which maintains and repairs upland paths in the Lake District. Explore the fells in this UNESCO World Heritage Site and you might stumble across small teams of volunteers working on footpaths.
Fix the Fells volunteers work in the most beautiful locations but often in the harshest conditions. The going can be tough and physical as they try to reverse scarring of the landscape caused by footfall and rainfall on paths to the summits.
Recently Fix the Fells has been working up at Stake Pass – a popular route on the Cumbria Way at Langdale. It’s not your normal commute.Volunteers meet at a local pub, drive for 15 mins along a rocky road in a multi-terrain vehicle, and then make the way to the work location on foot. The trek up to Stake Pass takes the best part of an hour – it’s all up hill – and volunteers carry their equipment with them.
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 partnership needs £500,000 each year towards fixing and maintaining 350 paths covering 400 miles. Teams will work throughout the year facing everything the unforgiving Lake District weather can throw at them. The Lake District is home to some of the best natural beauty and cultural heritage in the UK which benefits people and wildlife. But it’s a place that also needs looking after.Twenty-three skilled National Trust rangers and 110 volunteers contributed over 2,200 days to fixing footpaths last year alone. The work is essential to protect and restore the World Heritage Site with its internationally designated landscape, habitats, species, history and culture.
Fix the Fells’ work stretches back two decades. This dedication was acknowledged by the Campaign for National Parks in 2022 when it awarded a prestigious Park Protector Award to Fix the Fells. The focus for 2023 remains on repairing erosion damage caused by recreation and rainfall, both of which are increasing as more people visit the area and climate change causes more frequent storms. The Lake District Foundation leads on fundraising for Fix the Fells and collected more than £85,000 to support the project over the last two years. There remains an ongoing need to work with businesses, stakeholders and visitors to raise funds to enable the Fix the Fells mission to continue.
The Foundation continues to work on innovative ways to fundraise. In 2022 it launched rucksack covers for volunteers working on the mountains.The signs display QR codes enabling walkers to donate when they bump into a Fix the Fells team working in all weathers high up on the mountainside.
But what can visitors do to help protect the Lake District landscape? People can help by sticking to the path surface (not walking along the fragile edges), wearing the appropriate footwear (which can cope with a bit of mud and water) or volunteering with Fix the Fells.Most importantly they can donate to Fix the Fells to help look after this stunning scenery and precious wildlife for us all for the future. At Stake Pass Fix the Fells teams are making progress at repairing a path which is heavily used by walkers. At the end of their working day, they’ll pack up and make the steep journey back down the valley. They’ll be happy in the knowledge that their efforts are vital to protecting this beautiful place for future generations.
You can donate to Fix the Fells here: https://www.lakedistrictfoundation.org/donate-fix-the-fells/