The section of the route east of Nine Standards Rigg is notoriously boggy

The section of the route east of Nine Standards Rigg is notoriously boggy

Plans are afoot to improve the boggiest section of one of England’s most popular long-distance walking routes.

A crowdfunding scheme has been launched to provide cash to lay flags on peatland on Nine Standards Rigg on the boundary between Cumbria and North Yorkshire.

The notorious section of Alfred Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk follows a route across the moorland on open access land between the prominent cairns of the Nine Standards and Whitsundale, between Kirkby Stephen and Keld.

The North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Partnership said: “When Wainwright devised the route he never imagined that, 43 years later, thousands of walkers would be completing the journey every year.

“This high amount of foot traffic along certain parts of the route is exacerbating the peat erosion and damaging the structure of the peat. To combat this, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has set up alternate routes to be taken during the winter months in an attempt to redirect walkers away from fragile sections.

“Despite this, the area near Nine Standards Rigg is deteriorating, having lost a lot of its vegetation. This means that the peat is slowly being washed away into nearby streams and has become very soft and boggy. With no clear route to follow, walkers have found themselves lost and some have even become stuck in the bog.”

Adrian Cottrell, team leader of Kirkby Stephen Mountain Rescue Team said: “An unfortunate chap got stuck, literally stuck up to his waist in the bog, like being in quicksand, it was really quite surprising.”

The North Pennines AONB Partnership plans to lay stone flags along a section of the route which crosses the border from Cumbria into North Yorkshire. The flags will ‘float’ on top of the damaged peat and will not only protect the peat, but give people a stable surface to walk on and encourage them to stick to a dedicated route.

The section of the Coast to Coast Walk is not a public right of way but accessed as a permissive route and under open access provided by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act.

To ensure future maintenance of the route, Cumbria County Council has agreed to dedicate the route as an official right of way once the improvement works have been completed.

The partnership, working alongside the Yorkshire Dales authority, is running a crowdfunding campaign to raise £15,000. The campaign is running for five weeks and has support from the Wainwrights Society, the British Mountaineering Council, television presenter Julia Bradbury, the YDNPA, Kirby Stephen Mountain Rescue Team and Kirkby Stephen Walkers Are Welcome.

Julia Bradbury walked the Coast to Coast for one of her television series

Julia Bradbury walked the Coast to Coast for one of her television series

Julia Bradbury, who walked the route as part of her popular BBC One series, said: “I am delighted that the North Pennines AONB Partnership is planning to start a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for the renovation and ongoing maintenance of the trail itself.

“This type of fundraising tends to bring together like-minded people and fellow travellers who will support this particularly wonderful walk in any way they can and are lovers of our great British countryside.”

Anyone wishing to contribute can do so via the crowdfunding site which will be active from Monday 21 March.

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