Mend Our Mountains to repair two iconic Peak District paths

Posted by Carey Davies on 30/05/2019
Sunrise over the Great Ridge. Photo: Shutterstock

Two of the most popular and heavily eroded routes in the Peak District national park are set to be repaired with the help of £175,000 from the Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million fundraising appeal.

A kilometre-long stretch of the Great Ridge footpath, between Mam Tor and Lose Hill, and various boggy sections of Cut Gate, on the Derwent Moors, are to receive funds raised from the Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million campaign.

The campaign was a collaboration between the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) and UK National Parks that aimed to raise up to £1 million for vital path repairs in 13 major projects.

The national campaign has raised around £715,000 so far. This money will now be spent on repairing some of the nation’s best-loved upland routes.

Thanks to the efforts and generosity of individuals, activists groups and charitable organisations, £100,000 will go towards the Great Ridge and £75,000 towards Cut Gate. 

Carey Davies, BMC hill walking officer and Mend Our Mountains campaign lead, said: “The support for the Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million campaign for repairing routes in our National Parks has been phenomenal. This has very much been a collective effort and I can’t thank everyone enough for the support and enthusiasm that has been given to this ambitious, unprecedented project.”

Erosion damage on the Great Ridge, as seen from Back Tor. Photo: Carey Davies

Sarah Fowler, Peak District National Park Authority chief executive, said: “It is fantastic that organisations, businesses, campaigners and the public have come together to raise these vital funds for repairs to the Great Ridge and Cut Gate. It is important for these routes and their surrounding landscapes to be protected for people to enjoy now and in the future.”

Large donations were received from the Oglesby Trust, South Yorkshire and North East Derbyshire Ramblers, and the British Horse Society’s Paths for Communities Fund. Other significant funding was raised by mountain bikers, horse riders, and members who donated, organised events or took part in crowdfunding.

Partners including East Peak Innovation Partnership, the Sheffield Lakeland Partnership, and Sheffield Wildlife Trust have supplied key funding. In addition, a public vote secured a grant from the European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA).

Chris Maloney, from Peak District MTB and Keeper of the Peak, said: “We all have a role to play in promoting responsible enjoyment of our National Parks. The Cut Gate campaign has been a great opportunity for us to demonstrate advocacy in action, recognising the impact of cycling, horse riding or walking and doing our bit to raise awareness and funds for the ‘Bog of Doom’.”

Mike Rhodes, Peak District National Park Access and Rights of Way manager, said: “Mend Our Mountains has been a great partnership effort with user groups and partner organisations. Organisations like the Ramblers, Peak District MTB, Ride Sheffield, Peak Horse Power and Keeper of the Peak have helped galvanise public support and donated significant time and money to the campaign. We’re thrilled that the money will enable the Cut Gate bridleway and the worst section of the Great Ridge path from Hollins Cross to Back Tor to be repaired.’

Erosion damage on the blanket peat bog of Cut Gate. Photo: Carey Davies

There is still time for people to make donations for Great Ridge path repairs at https://mendmountains.thebmc.co.uk/donations/great-ridge/.

Cut Gate

The £75,000 raised will repair the notorious ‘Bog of Doom’ on Cut Gate bridleway, above Derwent Reservoir. Moors for the Future Partnership has appointed specialist contractors to carry out the repairs to protect the landscape and wildlife, as the route crosses blanket peat bog – protected for its international importance for carbon capture, water quality and biodiversity. Work will start after this year’s bird nesting season, and is expected to take several months.

Great Ridge

Significant footpath repairs will take place later this year on the Great Ridge above Castleton, to see a stretch of path from Hollins Cross towards Losehill restored. Specialist contractors will use reclaimed flagstones to re-establish a single footpath along the ridge. The natural vegetation alongside the path will be reinstated reducing the erosion scars which are visible on this popular route.

The Great Ridge was the site of the Great Ride Light Night in May 2018, which saw 600 people come together to create a spectacular show of support for Mend Our Mountains – a human light chain stretching for two miles.

Tom McNally's photo of the Great Ridge illuminated with a two-mile long line of lights, taken from Mam Tor.


Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million

Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million is a BMC campaign to raise £1 million to repair paths across the UK's 15 National Parks.

If you love the outdoors, we're asking you to support your favourite mountain by donating to Mend Our Mountains. You can donate online here.

 

WATCH: Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million 


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Anonymous User
07/06/2019
Whilst I agree with the need to protect valuable peat bog habitats, I am often dismayed to find that 'repair' of upland paths amounts to laying paving slabs along a route. As a Peak District fell runner, it is now increasingly difficult to find path routes in the popular areas which are not fully paved. If you've ever had to run along hard slabs in studded fell shoes, you'll realise what a horrible experience a paved path presents to a runner.

We surely should not be turning our valuable upland and mountain environments into 'high streets with nicer views'. A hard path is appropriate in an urban area but I'm not at all convinced that this is the best solution to curb erosion in wilderness areas. Curbing human traffic is clearly the best approach but this isn't practical or socially acceptable for the busiest paths. What other ways can path erosion be controlled or is it even necessary?

For a path with a moderate degree of erosion, e.g. on some of the upper Derwent Valley moors, laying paving slabs isn't going to return the peat bog to its natural state - because it isn't naturally covered with slabs of rock! - so isn't it better to simply accept that the path will be a bit boggy in places? For fell runners, bog is far more preferable terrain to hard stone slabs.

The passage of human feet has only caused a relatively small amount of damage to peat bogs, i.e. along the thin lines of paths. Atmospheric pollution has caused the largest amount of damage, according to Moors for the Future. I would contest that 'repair' of upland paths by laying continuous miles of stone slabs is a form of urban encroachment into wild areas and may actually be counterproductive in terms of conservation since it encourages even more people into what were previously quite inaccessible places.

Let's seriously consider whether paving wild, upland areas is what we should be doing. The principle argument for it seems to be just making it easier for people to gain access without getting a bit wet and muddy. If that's the only argument, you might as well put strips of tarmac into the moors, which we'd all (hopefully) be against. If there really is a conservation argument for upland paving, what is the scientific evidence that a paved path is better for the environment than an eroded natural one?
Carey Davies(author comment)
13/06/2019
Hello Anonymous, many of your concerns are addressed in this article, in particular questions 2 and 4: https://www.thebmc.co.uk/8-things-you-always-wanted-to-know-about-path-repair-but-were-too-afraid-to-ask

Hope that helps.

Carey

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