Written on 04/07/13 by Paul Oldham

Sheep Fleece Fix for Fell Paths

A Sheep fleece fix dating back centuries has been brought back to bring new life to Lake District fell paths. Using ancient techniques of burying the wool on boggy land, volunteers have restored a popular route at Angle Tarn in Langdale.

Instead of a mechanical digger being driven nearly two miles up a 500m ascent, Lake District volunteers used wheelbarrows to transport fleeces and equipment.

Fix The Fells ranger Rob Clark paid tribute to the repair team who successfully combatted serious erosion problems. He explained:

Angle Tarn nestling below Hanging Knotts
Angle Tarn nestling below Hanging Knotts

Like many of our paths, this was rough and boggy. When grassy sward has been trampled by years of walking boots, it dies off, leaving exposed peaty soil, which erodes and turns into bog.

Sheep fleeces have been used for hundreds, if not thousands of years, to form a base on areas of bog and peat.

Once buried, it hardly ever rots and will last the lifetime of a path. For surfacing, we use pinnel, a glacial subsoil dug from 'borrow' pits nearby.

Had we used mechanical machinery, it would have meant driving a digger over sensitive, vulnerable land. In just three days, our amazing volunteers laid 75m of path, filled in the 'borrow' pits and re-turfed.

It is only the third time fleeces have been used to combat wear and tear on Lake District fell routes. However, since the old foundation method was reintroduced it has been copied as far afield as Northern Ireland and the Brecon Beacons.

If you want to see the fruit of their labour then our walk Rossett Pike, Angle Tarn, Esk Pike and Bowfell takes you to Angle Tarn.

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