Why Wainwright's Coast to Coast walk is wearing out

Amanda Owen, The Yorkshire Shepherdess. 
Picture by Gerard Binks.Amanda Owen, The Yorkshire Shepherdess. 
Picture by Gerard Binks.
Amanda Owen, The Yorkshire Shepherdess. Picture by Gerard Binks.
When Alfred Wainwright devised the Coast to Coast route there were fewer pairs of boots completing the walk, but 43 years later, it has become such a victim of its own success that some stretches need repairing.

Now television personalities including TV presenter and walking enthusiast Julia Bradbury, and shepherdess and star of ITV’s The Dales Amanda Owen, have added their voices to a campaign being launched by conservation organisations in a bid to prevent Wainwright’s Coast to Coast, from becoming unsafe for the thousands of people who follow its path every year.

The route, which takes walkers through three national parks, is a 190 miles long and takes people on a spectacular long distance journey from St Bees in Cumbria to Robin Hood’s Bay. One of the worst areas of the trail is at Nine Standards Rigg, in Cumbria, above Kirkby Stephen.

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The ground has become so bad that local mountain rescue teams have had to be called out to free walkers who have got stuck up to their waist in boggy peat.

Mrs Owen, who farms at remote Ravenseat, in Swaledale, which sits at the end of the first leg of the walk, whose life is about to be turned into a film, said: “It’s important on so many levels that we keep this path in good shape.

“Walking, getting out into the countryside, is one of the things that’s accessible to many people,” she said.

The North Pennines AONB Partnership, in collaboration with local charity The Friends of the North Pennines and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, aims to raise the money to restore the path through a Crowdfunding campaign.

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Those behind the project hope to raise £27,000 for the repairs in Cumbria but also hope to raise another £29,000 for the second stage of the project which will see similar repairs in the Upper Swaledale area of the route.

Ms Bradbury, who grew up in Sheffield, 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.”

Money raised will enable the AONB Partnership to engage contractors to helicopter in stone flags to lay a new path, while staff and volunteers will revegetate the rest of the damaged peat.

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Michael Briggs, the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority’s area ranger for Swaledale, said: “Having a new flagstone surface will make the route clearer for walkers whilst providing a solid surface and therefore they can enjoy the location and their approach to half-way across the country.”

Alistair Lockett, field officer from the AONB Partnership, said: “With these repairs walkers and the environment will feel the benefit for years to come.”

Anyone wanting to support the project should visit the website: www.crowdfunder.co.uk/raisingthestandard - the site will go live on March 21.

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