The trust will take over management of Striding Edge and much of Helvellyn. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

The trust will take over management of Striding Edge and much of Helvellyn. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Conservation charity the John Muir Trust is in line to take over management of England’s third highest mountain.

The Perth-based organisation has agreed in principle to a three-year lease of most of Helvellyn and some of its surrounding peaks.

The trust already owns much of Britain’s highest mountain Ben Nevis, as well as part of the Skye Cuillin and other landscapes in Scotland.

Final negotiations for the agreement are taking place, with a view to the charity taking over Glenridding Common from the Lake District. It said it hopes to have the arrangements in place by August.

The Lake District National Park Authority said the measures will save it money and manpower. Other parties expressed an interest in managing the land, which covers about 1,000ha (2,470 acres) of upland terrain, but the decision was made to forge an agreement with the John Muir Trust.

The area covered includes Striding Edge, Swirral Edge and the headwall above Red Tarn, as well as Catstye Cam, the slopes of Stybarrow Dodd, Brown Cove and Keppel Cove, plus Raise, which is home to the Lake District Ski Club. The national park has owned and managed the land since 1977, a small part of it jointly with the National Trust.

The trust said it intends to maintain and encourage public access to the land and also use it for volunteering activities. It will also consider limited ‘rewilding’ by the introduction of woodland. Two existing commoners, who have legal rights to use the land for grazing, will retain their rights, and the John Muir Trust said it will respect their needs.

The announcement was made this week after a period of consultation.

Richard Leafe: 'jointly committed to caring for the common'. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Richard Leafe: 'jointly committed to caring for the common'. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Lake District chief executive Richard Leafe said authority members agreed to lease Glenridding Common to the charity. “This follows a period of consultation earlier this year, which gave the community and key stakeholders an opportunity to understand more about the proposal.

“During this period we continued our discussions with the two commoners who graze the land and representatives from the farming community made useful contributions towards the content of the draft lease.

“We will now formalise a three-year lease and we are aiming for this to be in place from August 2017.

“The John Muir Trust and the national park are jointly committed to caring for the common, including working with the local community, and we look forward to seeing how the trust’s management will enhance and improve the environmental quality of this land.”

Andrew Bachell: 'delighted and privileged'

Andrew Bachell: 'delighted and privileged'

Andrew Bachell, chief executive of the John Muir Trust said: “The recent consultation has shown there is substantial support for the trust to manage this special landscape.

“It has also allowed us to speak openly with those who raised questions and it’s been important in starting to develop a relationship and dialogue with the local commoners, farmers, residents and business community.

“We’re looking forward to finalising the details of a lease and then having further conversations with local people and organisations to agree a management plan that will enhance and benefit the local area.

“We take the responsibility of managing this special landscape and respecting its cultural traditions seriously and feel delighted and privileged to have been given the opportunity to do so.”

The trust said it has been in discussion about leasing the common from the authority since 2014 following a meeting where the national park shared its plans to review its property holdings with a wide range of organisations and stakeholders.

JMT said it has had staff based in the Lake District since 2003, running its John Muir Award scheme in partnerships initially with Cumbria Youth Alliance and for the past six years with the national park.

Helvellyn is England’s third highest mountain at 950m (3,117ft). Its summit is visited by thousands of walkers each year, many using the ridges of Striding Edge and Swirral Edge to reach the peak.

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