A helicopter lifts stone to the site on Exmoor

A helicopter lifts stone to the site on Exmoor

Footpath repairs supported by a crowdfunding project have begun on Exmoor.

A section of a route near Chains Combe in Exmoor national park is the first to benefit from the British Mountaineering Council’s Mend Our Mountains campaign.

A helicopter lifted stone into place on the moor to help improve the surface of the Two Moors Way, a 164km (102-mile) route celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

The Mend Our Mountains appeal raised £103,832 for various footpath restoration schemes across the UK. The BMC’s crowdfunding raised £7,500 for the Exmoor work.

Sue Applegate, rights of way and access officer at Exmoor national park said: “We were surprised and delighted at the amount of money we raised by this innovative project which will enable us to improve the surface of an ancient route, one of Exmoor’s most remote and rugged tracks.

“To repair a path we would normally use material that is on site but in this case there was simply not enough suitable material for the scale of the job. Because of its remote location a helicopter was the most efficient way of getting it there.

“The work would probably not have been able to go ahead without this funding and we are really grateful to everyone that donated from all over the UK and even as far away as the USA.”

As if to illustrate the point on the day of the helicopter rock drop, Helen Glendinning from the aircraft company BIH (Onshore) ended up falling into deep mud on a section of path that currently resembles a swamp.

Carey Davies, BMC hillwalking development officer, said recent and significant rainfall in the area has only added to the problems of erosion.

He said: “We are thrilled to be able to support restoration work near Long Chains Combe with proceeds from the BMC’s Mend Our Mountains campaign.

“This work is happening because thousands of walkers and lovers of the outdoor landscape of Britain came together to make it happen.

“Mend Our Mountains was a massive crowdfunding campaign which raised almost £104,000 in total for eight path repair projects in some of the most popular and iconic upland landscapes in Britain.

“It was a real community effort, with lots of different elements of our outdoor world pulling together for a cause and being involved in different ways.

“It is great to be able to include this beautiful Exmoor location as one of the supported projects. Exmoor contains some of the most awe-inspiring and entrancing landscapes in Britain.

“The Exmoor coastline is rightly famous among walkers and climbers, where picturesque villages nestle among these breathtakingly huge coastal cliffs. But the inland landscapes are wonderful too, like The Chains, where the atmosphere of older eras is preserved among tightly wound valleys and moors dotted with ancient stone circles like the ones at Long Chains Combe.

“Everyone should be free to explore the British outdoors, but the accumulated impact of walkers does take a toll, which you can see here. The Chains also get a lot of rain, and in the past have experienced some of the highest daily rainfall Britain has ever seen, which exacerbates the problem of erosion.

“Our national parks do a fantastic job of looking after the landscape but they are under increasing pressure, particularly after half a decade of budget cuts. This is why we ran Mend Our Mountains. There is no substitute for proper funding and support for national parks, but if walkers, climbers and others are given the opportunity to give something back voluntarily to the landscapes they love, then they will.”

The BMC said repairs to the path will now begin in earnest so a reliable, dry route is in place before the autumn.

The Mend Our Mountains campaign will also fund repairs to damaged paths on Snowdon, Scafell Pike, Ingleborough, Kinder Scout, part of the Brecon Beacons Horseshoe, as well as contribute towards vital repairs to moorland on Dartmoor and the North York Moors.

The campaign, which launched on 14 March, got off to a flying start with £22,000 raised in the first week.

Those who made pledges were able to bag rewards including days out with outdoor experts and celebrities including top climber Steve McClure and comedian Ed Byrne.

Catherine Flitcroft, the BMC’s access and conservation officer, urged those still keen to donate to carry on doing so.

She said: “Over the past few years, the BMC has helped fund numerous path repair works across England and Wales, though our charitable arm, the Access & Conservation Trust.

“For instance, path repair work in the Lakes on the Scafell Pike plateau and Dale Head, part of the Wainwright Coast to Coast walk in the North Pennines and upland footpath restoration work at the Roaches, Staffordshire, along with various sections of path in the Yorkshire Dales which see heavy footfall as a result of the Yorkshire Three Peaks.

“Spurred on by earlier path repair projects, increasing visitor numbers to our national parks and smaller budgets, compounded by the extensive damage of recent flooding, the BMC launched the Mend Our Mountains campaign to try and raise much needed funds to repair well-trodden paths in popular mountain and moorland areas, kick-started by a generous donation from ACT.

“Thanks to its huge success, we have decided to keep the campaign running on our website to continue raising much needed funds for upland path repair projects across the UK.”

Donations can be made via the BMC website.

  • The British Mountaineering Council has requested its former name is used while consultation on the change to Climb Britain takes place.

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