Work is underway this month on a series of path repairs to some of the boggier northern stretches of the Pennine Way in the Cheviots.
Along several sections amounting to over a kilometre of the national trail, bits of old sinking boardwalk and other eroded muddy surfaces are being paved with recycled sandstone flags by rangers from Northumberland National Park Authority.
With the help of £160,000 from Natural England the park authority has bought old mill flags that 'float' on the vegetation to provide a firm walking surface and prevent further erosion of the peat. The cash will also pay for the hundreds of tonnes of stone to be airlifted onto the Border Ridge, where there is no vehicle access, and to hire local contractors to help out.
Work on sections of the trail at Auchope Cairn (1000 metres) and Wedder Hill (60 metres) is going on now, to be followed later by a section of the route at Padon Hill in Redesdale. It is a challenge for the park ranger team working at this height and getting people and equipment to such a remote area, says the National Park Authority - and the recent snowy weather can't be helping either.
National Park Authority Rights of Way Officer Lorna Lazzari explains:
'We're delighted at last to have the funds to make these vital upgrades to the national trail. When footpaths become waterlogged, people will naturally divert off the path onto the fragile vegetation, which results in large patches of erosion along well-used routes and much greater damage to both the peat soils and the footpath.'
'This part of the Pennine Way has long, challenging stretches between shelter and accommodation, but during the dry summers the going is relatively easy. With so much rainfall recently, it has been both uncomfortable and distracting for walkers forging through a stretch to enjoy some of the finest views in the Borders.'