A stretch of the Footpath 54008 was identified as a route we and the local parish council wanted to improve for use by wheelchair users and prams, as well as making it more suitable for use in winter when the path can become muddy and difficult to walk.
A hard surfaced path runs North out of Kirkby Lonsdale, through Lily Wood and enters a field where it turns into a grassed path; linking Underley Business Centre (the former stables for Underley Hall) with the town. A previous hard surface remained under the grass which due to lack of use and agricultural changes had become covered over; our aim was to uncover this old surface and fill over the top with new stone.
The first phase of the project was to repair the section of path that ran alongside the carpark. This involved repairing a section of fence that had been damaged and instating a 4ft wide path using 40mm to dust limestone chippings. This section was especially difficult to work in because of the restricted access and tight gaps. We were also hindered by a section of culvert that runs under that path and during heavy rainfall it spills out and overflows the path washing away any aggregate path. We looked at different options including a boardwalk and stone flags for this 20m section; but after discussions with the landowner, they decided to dig up the old culvert and increase its capacity to stop any flooding in future. This is being held off until summer and drier conditions.
Phase 2 of the project was to excavate the topsoil through the field to expose the underlying hard surfaced path and fill in with 40mm-dust stone aggregate. Digging out a 4ft wide path and using the spare turf on the side gave us a 4-6 inch deep tray with a hard base which we filled with the aggregate for the new track. We decided to use a geogrid under some sections of the aggregate due to the nature of the field (being wet in winter) and to help spread out the load. Where this was used we had to dig out a 6ft wide tray to lay the geogrid on, then replacing some of the turf to hold down the geogrid left a matching 4ft wide tray; the remainder of the topsoil and turf was used to bank up the edges and create a lip. Whilst digging the path we uncovered beck gravel, cobbles, tarmac and even old metal railings showing how well used the path had been in the past.
During this phase we also repaired and reinstated the old cast iron estate gates at either end of the field to improve access and retain the historical features and feel of the area.