A day with the Fix the Fells Rangers

This week our Trusts & Grants Lead Michele had her first opportunity to spend the day with the Fix the Fells Rangers.

Michele was joined by our Fundraising Manager Steve, Fix the Fells Partnership Manager Isabel, Ross and Carol from National Trust, four Fix the Fells Rangers and Cassie the dog.

The day was filled with revelations and has increased my admiration for the team’s dedication and hard work. It was a day of understanding not just the physicality of the task, but the depth of knowledge and passion that goes into every path they restore.

Inclusivity in Action: The team doesn’t just build paths. They collaborate with diverse groups, including walkers and mountain bikers, to ensure the paths serve all users effectively. This inclusive approach has led to results that benefit everyone who traverses the fells. ‘We need to be good neighbours’ was the message from one Ranger and you can see that they feel that is at the heart of their work in the Lakes’ community.

Nature’s Encyclopedia: The team possesses extensive knowledge about every aspect of the environment they work in, from the types of rocks to the species of plant life. This knowledge is crucial in preserving the natural beauty and biodiversity of the fells. Turves are moved with care and root systems intact so that they can root easily and provide a further barrier to erosion. The common butterwort was identified – I had no idea that a beautiful carnivorous plant was eating insects on the path side.

Psychology of Walking: Understanding the psychology of walking is integral to their work. Fix the Fells design paths that are intuitive to find and follow, enhancing the experience for all visitors, keeping footfall away from the delicate landscape. Did you know that a well-placed bund (mound of earth) can deter a walker from creating a new path and encourage a natural pool to bring biodiversity to each route.

Landscaping for the Future: The team is constantly looking at how they can improve the paths and considering potential options for the future. Their work is not just about maintaining the status quo, but about enhancing and evolving the landscape. We heard about how when the Rangers return in a few weeks, they will assess how the changes we made have been interpreted by walkers – literally examining the footfall and making adjustments with creative and intuitive designs.

Hard Work and Dedication: The work is physically demanding, but the team’s commitment never wavers. Their tireless efforts are a testament to their dedication to preserving the fells. We carried mattocks, buckets and shovels up to Walla Crag from Ashness Bridge at a pace that I could not sustain, these folk are incredibly fit and shift 30 tonnes of rock per Ranger each year by hand.

Sustainability and the Local Economy: The team prioritises the use of sustainable and local materials. For example, they use ash felled from ash die back for the tree cages. Ash requires no chemical treatment and the cracks that form through weathering act as winter nest sites for insects. Fix the Fells support the local economy by swapping goods where they can and employing local companies to provide tools and stones.

Love for the Fells and Craftsmanship: Above all, what stood out was the team’s love for the fells and their craft. Their creativity and craftsmanship are evident in every path they build and every stone they lay.

The day was an inspiring, powerful reminder of the incredible work being done to preserve our fells.

Our supporters played a crucial role in these efforts, and I wanted to express my gratitude to everyone who has contribution. The team’s work is a testament to the power of dedication, knowledge, and a love for nature.

Fix the Fells is a partnership project between the National Trust, Lake District Foundation, the Lake District National Park Authority, Natural England and Friends of the Lake District.

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