Lake District sees increased erosion due to popularity during pandemic

The Lake District’s increased popularity due to the staycation boom has also affected the area’s delicate landscape, according to an organisation set up to protect it.

Fix The Fells has carried out £10m worth of work to repair paths and erosion scars in the Cumbrian national park since it was created 20 years ago.

Every metre of path costs £150 to create and the organisation, which relies on fundraising and grants, spends around £500,000 in a typical year.

Fix The Fells programme manager Joanne Backshall said: “The pandemic has led to people really appreciating the outdoors and the benefits that can bring.

“That has brought more people here and more people into the outdoors and that’s all great – we’re not about stopping that, we’re just about managing the impact that it has on the landscape.

“It really has increased over the last 18 months, we have really seen an increase in people enjoying the Lake District, but increasing the erosion that that is causing and that increases the work and the money that is needed to maintain these paths.”

As Fix The Fells celebrates its 20th anniversary, its members are also noticing the effect of climate change.

Ms Backshall said: “Climate change is having an impact by the increase in severe weather events and the heavy rainfall that occurs in the Lake District.

“It was always wet anyway but it is now even more so, so what we are seeing is when we have a really heavy storm event that leads to a significant increase in the amount of water, that goes down the paths and damages them.”

Richard Leafe, chief executive of the Lake District National Park Authority, said: “Due to our changing climate and more erosion through intense rainfall, this vital maintenance work is needed on our high fells more than ever.

“We know how important the Lake District has been over the course of the pandemic as we have welcomed many new visitors over the past year.

“As more people come to enjoy all the health and wellbeing benefits the Lake District has to offer, we’re very grateful to our colleagues at Fix The Fells and the amazing team of volunteers for all that they do.”

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