Fleece Fix for Fell Path

A centuries-old path building technique using sheep fleece has been resuscitated to bring new life to an over-trodden Lake District path.

A woolen base layer - all the rage on the fells, 109 kb
A woolen base layer - all the rage on the fells
© Fix the Fells

Using the ancient method of burying wool on boggy land to provide a base for a path, volunteers have restored a popular route near Angle Tarn above Langdale.

Instead of a mechanical digger being driven nearly two miles up a 1500 foot ascent, volunteers used wheelbarrows to transport fleeces and equipment - shear hard work.

Fix the Fells ranger Rob Clark paid tribute to the repair team who've successfully combatted serious erosion problems:

'Like many of our paths, this was rough and boggy. When grassy sward has been trampled by years of walking boots, it dies off, leaving exposed peaty soil, which erodes and turns into bog.'

'Sheep fleeces have been used for hundreds, if not thousands of years, to form a base on areas of bog and peat.'

'Once buried, it hardly ever rots and will last the lifetime of a path. For surfacing, we use pinnel, a glacial subsoil dug from 'borrow' pits nearby.'

'Had we used mechanical machinery, it would have meant driving a digger over sensitive, vulnerable land. In just three days, our amazing volunteers laid 75m of path, filled in the 'borrow' pits and re-turfed.'

The Fix the Fells house style of very regular gravel-surfaced path is rather over-manicured for some people's taste - the sort of thing you'd expect to see in a park rather than up a hill. However there's no denying that the serious erosion problem on popular Lake District paths needs addressing somehow.

This is only the third time fleeces have been used to combat wear and tear on Lake District fell routes. But since the old foundation method was reintroduced it has been replicated in hills elsewhere, from Northern Ireland to the Brecon Beacons.

Hard work at the site, 134 kb
Hard work at the site
© Fix the Fells
Volunteers with their new stretch of path, 120 kb
Volunteers with their new stretch of path
© Fix the Fells

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