Footpath work will start shortly on a popular challenge trail in the Yorkshire Dales.
The project will involve walkers on the Three Peaks Challenge route diverting to an engineered path which avoids a badly eroded section of the route across a bog.
The work will be undertaken by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority using cash it won in a competition run by two outdoor magazines, with a prize from the European Outdoor Conservation Association.
The diversion will mean walkers and runners on the 39km (24-mile) route sticking to the main Pennine Way footpath on the descent from Pen-y-ghent until they reach Whitber Hill.
The route will then cross the moorland there to join up with another section of the Pennine Way near Sell Gill.
The park authority said years of use by walkers has badly eroded the length of footpath running from Pen-y-ghent over Horton Moor and Black Dubb Moss to Ribblehead via High Birkwith,
The vegetation has been damaged and the topsoil has been washed away, causing significant damage to internationally important peat habitat.
The alternative route over Whitber Hill passes over drier ground and uses mainly existing paths. But the authority said it needs engineering and, with the landowners’ agreement, it will be developed as an alternative route that walkers will be encouraged to use.
National park rangers and Dales Volunteers will start work later this month to link up the two existing stone tracks that are both part of the Pennine Way to create the alternative route, which will include three sections of stepped stone flags and a small footbridge across Sell Gill.
The creation of the alternative route is part of the Three Peaks Project, which was launched by the National Park Authority in 2009.
The YNDPA’s Three Peaks area ranger Steve Hastie, who is also the Three Peaks Project manager, said: “Diverting walkers away from Black Dubb Moss will give the sensitive peatland habitats and the damaged vegetation time to recover.
“We’re currently finalising the logistics, with 650 tonnes of materials to move around, as well as various interesting items of machinery to dig, grab, lift and move people, earth and stone.
“There will also be a chance for Friends of the Three Peaks to get involved in some of the lighter landscaping work.
“Over the winter we will install waymarker posts and produce maps and publicity advocating the use of the new route, which should be ready for use next spring.
“It will mean that, for the first time, we will have a sustainable circuit for those wishing to do the Yorkshire Three Peaks challenge.”
Last year, members of the public and readers of Trail magazine and Country Walking magazine were asked to select 10 winners from 66 international nominations to share a pot of cash being offered by the European Outdoor Conservation Association, a group of businesses in the European outdoor industry that raises funds to put directly into conservation projects worldwide.
The Whitber bid, which was submitted by local charity the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust after discussions with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, was one they voted for, netting a €30,000 grant.
Don Gamble, the YDMT’s projects development officer, said: “When EOCA invited the trust to submit a proposal, we felt that a project benefitting the Three Peaks would stand a good chance of being successful.
“We were delighted when we found out we’d won the public vote. This is a great example of organisations working in partnership to help protect and restore this special area and enhance visitors’ experience.”
The Three Peaks challenge is a popular walk over Pen-y-ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough traditionally tackled in 12 hours or less, and the project aims to encourage charities, organisations and individuals to help in the maintenance and conservation of the network of paths crossing a fragile area of land that has to cope with 250,000 visitors each year.