Helicopter drop used to repair badly eroded path on Three Peaks Challenge route on summit of Ingleborough

A major repair project is taking place on Ingleborough to regenerate a heavily-used footpath on the Three Peaks Challenge route.

The journey from quarry to summit

The Sulber Nick right of way has suffered badly from erosion caused by walkers in recent months and has become rutted. The damage had begun to spread over a wide area as people diverted around it to avoid the boggy terrain.

Stone from a nearby quarry at Horton in Ribblesdale has been dropped by helicopter onto the 1.6km section near the summit of Ingleborough to restore the surface as well as conserve habitat for plant species such as purple orchid and bird's eye primrose.

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Hanson UK donated 600 tonnes of aggregate from the quarry, which is just a kilometre away, and it took 10 days to put in place.

Rangers and volunteers from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority are using the aggregate to engineer a 1.3km path. The stone is being mixed with subsoil, won from the line of the path, to create a hard-wearing and free-draining surface. Culverts and cross drains are being installed along the way, while an additional 262-metre section over peat is being flagged with reclaimed stone.

Sulber Nick is on the final section of the Three Peaks route on the descent from Ingleborough to the traditional finishing point at Horton. It is in the Ingleborough National Nature Reserve.

The works to the path are part of the three-year Ingleborough Access Project managed by the National Park Authority with £180,000 of funding from Natural England. Last year’s repairs to the High Lot footpath were also part of the project.

Member champion for recreation management Nick Cotton said: “The Sulber Nick path has never been engineered, but anyone who has been there of late knows how much-needed these works are. The path has become so boggy that people are diverting to an adjacent ridge, which is an important habitat for early purple orchid, bird’s eye primrose, fell wort and Yorkshire sandwort. An engineered path, constructed in sympathy with the surroundings, will bring walkers once again to the correct path line and prevent further erosion.

“Hanson UK has been very generous in gifting the huge quantity of aggregate required. Allowing the ranger service to use the northern tip of Horton quarry as a helicopter lift site has also been a great help. Our thanks go to the company and its excellent local staff.”

Quarry manager Simon Garner added: “We are delighted to be donating the stone needed to make the path safe and help protect the environment by encouraging walkers to use the designated route. Horton Quarry is an integral part of the area and we are happy to be able to support the local community in this way.”

Approximately 60,000 walkers complete the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge each year.

People using the Three Peaks Route, or walking to Ingleborough summit from Horton, are urged to follow advisory signs while the work is being completed.