A public footpath leading to the summit of Ingleborough is to close for up to six months for essential repairs.
The path, known as High Lot, is thought to be used by tens of thousands of people a year walking from Chapel le Dale to the top of the mountain – often as part of a Yorkshire Three Peaks route.
High footfall, heavy rainfall, drainage issues and a steep incline has caused the existing stone pitched path, installed in the late 1980s, to slip.
During the past month, staff from contractors Terra Firma Environmental Ltd have picked and bagged 160 tonnes of large gritstone blocks from a nearby scree slope. Later this week the stone will be lifted by helicopter and dropped next to the path in readiness for works to begin.
A total of 172 metres of stone pitching will be removed, with the gritstone blocks then dug deep into the ground to make a durable new 1.5 metre wide pitched path. Associated drainage and landscaping work will also be undertaken.
An alternative way to the summit across open access land is being suggested for use during the duration of the path closure, which will run from next Monday, the 27th of July, to 25 January 2021 – although as the works are expected to be completed by the end of October, the path could reopen earlier.
Member Champion for Recreation Management at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Nick Cotton, said: “High Lot is one of the most well used public paths in one of the finest National Nature Reserves in the country. It’s our shared objective with Natural England to protect the reserve by tackling footpath erosion. We also want to maintain the path network on Ingleborough to the very highest standard as for many people the Yorkshire Three Peaks is the first they see of the National Park.
“It is important for people to observe the temporary closure of the path. The High Lot section of path to be repaired is very narrow and there isn’t room for the contractors to work safely with walkers passing by. I would ask that people walking the Yorkshire Three Peaks look up the alternative route to the summit that we are recommending, and give themselves a bit more time to complete it, as it is a steep way and not easy to use.”
He added: “It’s satisfying that a local source of stone has been secured for the repair job; the gritstone blocks will be led to the path from only 400 metres away. It’s going to look great when finished.”
The High Lot path is in the Ingleborough Natural Nature Reserve, which is managed by Natural England. The repair job is part of the three-year Ingleborough Access Project (2019-22) managed by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) with £180,000 funding from Natural England.
The YDNPA has obtained consent from Natural England for the removal and use of boulders from the scree slope. Special care was taken to ensure important plant species were avoided.