(Alamy/PA)
(Alamy/PA)

How to ramble in the countryside without damaging the landscape, as the Lake District reports erosion

Even footpaths need a break sometimes.

Luke Rix-Standing
Wednesday 18 August 2021 13:48

If you had to pick one part of the UK to head for a weekend away, the Lake District would be the first place on a lot of people’s lips. The national park in Cumbria has seen vast visitor spikes since the lifting of lockdown, thanks to an influx of internal tourists keen to cast off cabin fever and avoid tricky international travel.

It’s good news for the Great British summertime, and for local B&B owners, but the landscape itself is suffering from too much of a good thing. Often overburdened by visitors even pre-Covid, the Lake District already has a organisation called Fix The Fells, set up in 2001 to limit the damage doled out to the environment.

“The pandemic has led to people really appreciating the outdoors,” says programme manager Joanne Backshall, “and that’s all great, we’re not about stopping that. We’re just about managing the impact that it has on the landscape.”

(Alamy/PA)

Footfall alone can be a problem for vulnerable parts of the countryside, and footpaths have born the brunt of the Lake District’s popularity, so it’s as much about where you go and when as it is what you do there.

“Avoiding the busiest spots at the busiest times is the simplest way to ease the burden,” says Gemma Cantelo, head of policy and advocacy for Ramblers UK. “Honeypot locations like the Lake District are understandably popular, but now we’re able to travel a further afield again, it’s worth seeking out other places.”

“Not only will you cause less damage, but you’ll have a more peaceful and relaxing walk and discover somewhere new.”

Even if the Lake District is your long weekend of choice, you can shun the most oversubscribed lakes and fells. Lake Windermere may be stunning, and conquering Scafell Pike may be satisfying, but the region is packed with natural features that are just as beautiful, if less well-known.

Littering is the cardinal sin for the casual walker – just don’t do it – and there are also several more direct ways you can limit your impact while rambling. “Take your litter home, leave gates as you find them, and stick to marked paths on farmland or in National Parks ” says Cantelo.

Avoid really muddy paths and areas if you can – a clear sign of vulnerability and damage – and do not stage impromptu barbecues in dry, brushy areas.

If you want to do more, organisations like Ramblers also take more direct action to help the countryside heal. “Many of our groups regularly carry out litter picks,” says Cantelo, “and 150 volunteer path maintenance teams across the UK work hard to keep paths clear and accessible for everyone.”

She is certainly not encouraging anyone to stay cooped up in their homes. “It’s been wonderful to see so many people enjoying walking over the past year,” she says, “now it’s more important than ever that we all play our part to look after the places we love to walk.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in