Last weekend we continued training up the new Fix the Fells lengthsmen. Nine volunteers arrived at our office and were given a brief presentation all about the lengthsman role and exactly what is required when you go out on a "drain run". Once they all knew what would be expected of them it was time to head to Loughrigg and put it all into practice.
A brief introduction before setting to work
The main job of the lengthsmen is to help us maintain the upland path network. They do this by going out in pairs, or larger groups, on regular "drain runs". The drain run consists of clearing the paths of any rubble, excessive vegetation growth and also monitoring the state of the path. A path monitoring sheet is filled in which states how much of the path has been cleared, if the path appears to be deteriorating at all and whether any repairs may be required.
Sweeping out a drain
The only tools required for a "drain run" are a shovel and a brush. It is essential that all rubble is removed from the path because it can quickly clog up the drains. This means that during heavy downpours water may overflow down the path, which can result in serious erosion damage.
Shovelling loose stone from the footpath
Rubble on stone pitched footpaths is also awkward to walk on, which means people have a tendency of stepping off the path and walking along side it, again causing further damage.
Continuing towards the summit
When you're out clearing drains you also have to be very aware of people around you. Even a small stone shovelled off the path can start rolling and pick up speed, this has the potential to seriously injure somebody walking on the path below.
We timed our walk up Loughrigg so we could stop for a bite to eat at the summit and although there was a cold wind blowing we managed to find some shelter and take in the fantastic views towards Elterwater.
Descending from the summit
Once we'd had our lunch (and also some excellent homemade flapjack made by one of the volunteers) we headed off down the other side shovelling and sweeping as we went.
For more information on volunteering with Fix the Fells click here....Fix the Fells