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National Trust in footpath appeal
Funding raised by the National Trust will prevent footpath erosion and protect surrounding wildlife from harm in the Lake District fells, the charity said (National Trust/PA)
The National Trust is launching a £300,000 appeal to repair footpaths in the Lake District, including on some of its most famous routes.
Two thousand metres (1.25 miles) of paths on National Trust land, including up to England's highest mountain Scafell Pike and Red Tarn to Crinkle Crags, one of Arthur Wainwright's favourite walks, need replacing over the next two years.
Restoring the routes which give access to England's largest national park and allow walkers to enjoy the natural beauty without damaging the landscape, will cost £160 per metre, or £250,000 per mile, the National Trust said.
With extreme weather at the beginning of the year and an estimated 10% increase in Lake District visitors on last year, path maintenance and restoration has become even more critical.
Funding raised by the National Trust will prevent footpath erosion and protect surrounding wildlife from harm in the Lake District fells, the charity said.
When paths become eroded, they create scars on the landscape and destroy fragile wildlife habitats and even threaten species.
Fish species such as the rare vendace, as well as trout and salmon, are under threat because spawning grounds are damaged by soil and debris washed off the paths and into lakes and streams, the Trust said.
Repair work will protect historic paths including old sheep routes which were linked to medieval monasteries, coffin routes which transported the dead to churches in remote areas, traditional tracks used by farmers and miners and even Neolithic trading paths.
The money will be used for measures including creating drainage channels so paths are not washed away in storms.
The Trust will also use traditional methods such as "stone-pitching", a Roman method using local stones in the ground to create paths that require minimal maintenance, and "sheep fleecing", which uses sheep fleeces as part of the path in boggy or peaty areas.
The footpath appeal aims to raise £300,000 to pay for path replacement and maintenance over the next two years.
Ian Griffiths, National Trust footpath ranger, said: "Walking in the Lakes has been more popular than ever this year and it is fantastic so many people are exploring or incredible national park on foot.
"But with this comes hard graft from the footpath team as we try to keep the paths open to more than 15 million visitors each year while minimising the damage to the fells and protecting their natural beauty.
"If all those people who love the Lakes could give a little something back, we can continue our work even in the face of extreme erosion.
"We could be looking at landslides, loss of habitats and water pollution if we don't raise the money."
Although Lottery funding has been very generous, path erosion is still a significant problem and public support is needed to meet the rising costs, such as the cost of helicopters to carry stone to remote spots which has nearly doubled in the past decade, the Trust said.