Fix the Fells (FtF) Volunteer Lengthsmen

Lake District National Park, Cumbria

Your story

The Fix the Fells volunteer lengthsmen are a team of trained volunteers who assist with the repair and maintenance of the upland fell paths in the Lake District with funding from donations and the programme partners.

Group introduction

Fix the Fells is a collaborative partnership programme between the National Trust, the Lake District National Park Authority, Friends of the Lake District, Nuture Lakeland, Natural England and Cumbria County Council. The Fix the Fells volunteer lengthsmen operate as a separate autonomous group within the auspices of the wider Lake District National Park volunteer service. The activity of the FtF volunteer lengthsmen scheme is wholly run and organised by its own volunteer management group that comprises volunteer lengthsmen representatives working in conjunction with both NT and LDNPA staff representatives. A volunteer lengthsmen representative is also a full participating member of the overall Fix the Fells partnership programme board.

The principal aims of Fix the Fells is to protect the spectacular Lakeland fells from erosion by repairing and maintaining the upland paths. This involves a combination of both regular routine maintenance works and more major planned repair projects. Much of the routine maintenance work (drain and path clearing) is undertaken by over a hundred specially trained volunteers (lengthsmen) who endeavour to cover a network of 200 identified and designated paths spread across the Lake District. The Fix the Fells volunteer lengthsmen currently operate from a network of eight small tool sheds located typically on sites of National Trust properties across the area. Typical tools that are used by the lengthsmen include shovels, spades, mattocks, brushes, digging bars and trugs / buckets. In 2015 422 volunteer drain runs were completed which involved 1,736 volunteer days on the mountain paths and a further 79 days on lower level work including repairing drystone walls and hedgelaying. So far in 2016, 200 volunteer drain runs have already now been completed comprising of 651 volunteer days.

Our path work reduces erosion scars and also helps protect the ecology and archaeological heritage of our beautiful Lake District landscape.

How would this funding have an impact on your community?

If Fix the Fells volunteer lengthsmen were to be given some funding then it would contribute to buying new tools for the volunteers to work with. As mentioned in the ‘Group Introduction’ section the Fix the Fells volunteer lengthsmen use shovels, spades, mattocks, brushes, digging bars and trugs / buckets, all of which require to be repaired and replaced at regular intervals. The introduction of further additional paths onto the maintenance list and the continued successful volunteer lengthsmen recruitment has also added to the need for additional tools. Typical numbers of tools required and costs are as follows:
12 shovels @ £36.50 each
12 churn brushes @ £5.20 each

There is a 10 year plan produced by the Fix the Fells Board which shows the commitment required to keep the Lake District paths repaired and maintained. This work must be realised if we are to keep the beautiful Lake District in a state where it can be enjoyed by all both now and for years to come.

"Over 90% of the routine fell maintenance (drain runs) are now planned, organised and undertaken by FtF volunteer lengthsmen. This major ongoing volunteer support commitment allows the fulltime National Trust and Lake District National Park staff to concentrate their efforts principally on more major upland path repairs or erosion control projects.

Barry Capp – FtF Volunteer lengthsmen representative to the Fix the Fells Partnership Programme Board."

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