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Improving footpaths and bridleways

Projects 2009-2010

Pennine Way, Pen-y-ghent

The route over Pen-y-ghent is very popular. As well as forming part of the Pennine Way it is climbed by day walkers and those undertaking the Three Peaks route.

Earlier this year funding was secured to carry out work to reduce the impact on the path surface and surrounding ground. A helicopter airlifted 200 tonnes of stone to different sites where work was to be undertaken. A specialist contractor then completed the work of constructing cross drains to shed water off the aggregate path to prevent wash out, and stone pitching and landscaping to reduce erosion and give users a clear and easier walking line thus reducing short cuts and desire lines. Subject to funding, more works are planned for next year.

Repairs to Bridleway No. 516029, Dent Parish

Site of ford before construction at Nun House Site of ford before
construction at Nun House

Repairs to this bridleway, where it passes westwards from Foul Moss as far as Nun House Outrake Bridleway, have continued this year. This has involved the repair to side ditches, cross drains and levelling of ruts. The track was very damaged with ruts and much standing water. The water has in the main been allowed to seep away to the side verge and ditches. Several stone pitched fords and stone box culverts have been created where water flows strongly across the bridleway. These structures are robust enough to trake the extreme water flows that can occur at the location and prevent overflow onto and along the route.

This bridleway is known locally as 'Occupation Road'. This vernacular terminology is used elsewhere around the country where a route had specific uses for people accessing land. In this case those 'occupations', that we are aware of, were quarrying stone, cutting peat for fuel, and accessing grazing land. The original surface of the track consisted of relatively large random stones laid directly onto the ground so the grassy vegetation could grow up between and over them. Over recent years, the surface and drainage have been severely damaged by motorised vehicles, both recreational and occupational. With new legal powers contained within the Natural Environment & Countryside Act, all recreational motorised vehicular use is now prevented along this route.

The new ford at Nun House after construction The new ford at Nun House

Landowners and managers who use this route for accessing their land have been consulted about the project and have agreed to keep their use of large agricultural vehicles to a minimum. It is hoped that by removing recreational motor vehicle use and reducing the pressure of agricultural vehicles, the repairs will remain effective and long lasting.

Good drainage is the key to successful management of this route, as it was constructed to follow the contours of the fell and it crosses many natural water courses. Proposals for the coming years are to continue with drainage works by constructing fords, culverts and additional side ditches. The original surface of the lane will be repaired wherever possible and it is hoped that, with reduced vehicular pressure, the lane surface will start to recover naturally and return to a grassy sward.

Simon’s Seat-Barden Fell access area.

The new path on Simon's Seat The new path on Simon's Seat

Ranger Service staff, working in conjunction with local contractors, have recently completed path restoration work on the route between Simon’s Seat and Lord’s Seat. Because of the inaccessibility of the area, materials had to be air-lifted onto site using a helicopter. Materials included 35 tonnes of reclaimed mill floor flags which have been laid to create over 100 metres of new flagged path, completing the section between the two rock out crops.

The work has been undertaken as part of the access agreement between Bolton Abbey Estate and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority.

Pitching on Plover Hill

Loading stone into mini skips to be flown to the dropsite on Plover Hill, 900 kg at a time. Loading stone into mini skips to
be flown to the dropsite on
Plover Hill, 900 kg at a time

Pitching work has just begun on a remote section of footpath on the northern slope of Plover Hill. Despite its location this is a popular path which is used as a route onto Pen-y-ghent - one of the Three Peaks. A short section has become severely eroded by a combination of water and walking boots where the path traverses a steep granite outcrop.

Earlier in the year we had contact from HF Holidays Ltd, a guided walking company, who use this route with their groups. They offered to fund repair works to this section with money donated to their Pathways Fund from their guests, going some way to alleviate their impact on the footpath network.

Due to this site's remote location and terrain it was never going to be cheap. We've had to fly in stone to the site and employ a contractor to lay it in the traditional style of pitching. This involves digging the stones two thirds into the ground to make a solid, graded surface, trying to avoid creating a staircase. The surface must also shed water to the side to prevent further erosion.

Carlton Moor Bridleway

Contractors working for the Ranger Service have repaired 290 metres of damaged bridleway. They used a tracked excavator to form a subsoil path by removing the mineral soil and placing it on top of the topsoil. This creates a surfaced track using materials on site. The sides of the path were reprofiled and turfed to allow water to drain away and the surface was seeded with a grass mixture.

Wether Fell Bridleway Improvements

Surface water running down the bridleway during wet weather. Surface water running down the
bridleway during wet weather.

We have recently carried out improvements to the bridleway from Burtersett onto Wether Fell. The works have involved installation of stone cut off drains, to help reduce surface water erosion, new side ditches and replacement of gates. The new works have improved the route for walkers and especially for horse riders and mountain bikers.

New stone ford / drain across the bridleway New stone ford / drain
across the bridleway






Numerous stone fords help pick up water from side ditches and channel it across the bridleway, to help reduce surface erosion.

New timber gate installed on the route An example of a new timber
gate installed on the route













New gates make it easier for walkers, mountain bikers, horse riders and for farmers managing the land.





Bridleway Repairs, West Stonesdale

A group of volunteers from the John Muir Trust recently spent a weekend in Swaledale assisting Rangers to carry out repairs to a bridleway in West Stonesdale, near Keld. The group carried out essential drainage improvements to prevent damage to the surface of the route and also helped to rebuild approximately 20m of retaining wall which had collapsed following a land slide. The JMT group are regular visitors to the Dales and have worked on a range of projects within the National Park. The John Muir Trust is a charity set up to encourage others to explore and conserve Britain's wild places. Further information about the Trust can be obtained from their website, www.jmt.org.

Moor Head Lane, Helwith Bridge

The restored Moor Head Lane The restored Moor Head Lane

The weather last summer caused a few delays with our planned work in the area. A local contractor has however completed a project for us at Helwith Bridge, between Settle and Horton-in-Ribblesdale, where a walled lane had really deteriorated due to water damage and previous use by vehicles. The project was helped by the donation of 200 tonnes of limestone aggregate by Tarmac to surface the track. This came from a local quarry and only had to be transported a matter of yards – literally ‘a stone’s throw’!

Mastiles Lane improvements

Over the last few years we have been gradually repairing sections of Mastiles Lane that have been severely eroded in the past. This summer we are hoping to complete the last section of route which is 150 metres of the walled lane. This will bring this popular route back into a good state of repair for the many people who enjoy using it.

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