Monday, 29 November 2021

A return to Gowbarrow Fell

In previous years working on Gowbarrow, we mostly constructed an aggregate path with the Fix the Fells volunteers, but we returned this year to complete the stone work. The two sections that we worked on had both been repaired some time ago, but now due to the increase in visitor numbers the pathway was too narrow and becoming eroded as people walked off the path.

The old pitching before being replaced

The rock had been previously flown onto site, but we had to roll it through the bracken to where it was needed on the line of the new footpath. The rock from the old path was also removed and rolled across the slope to give us some extra pitching stone.

Rock in position

The lower sections of the path were fairly straightforward, but as we gained height we started encountering large boulders and bedrock.

A boulder, right in the way

In this situation there's not really much you can do except work with what you've got, so we incorporated any suitable boulders and chipped our way through the bedrock.

Excavated boulder

You can see the large boulder in the photograph above built into the footpath in the photo below (towards the front of the image, across the full width of the path). Much of this section used rock that was pulled out of the ground.

Boulder in position

With the main part of the pitching completed, we gravelled up to the new path (once again with the help from the Fix the Fells volunteers). In the photo below you can see the old path line, which has now been covered over with soil and crosses the new gravelled path. 

Approaching the new section of path

The new section of path takes a slightly new line and meanders to its destination, so some of the gradient has been removed, which means we could build it with much shallower steps.

Lower section of path after landscaping

The second section to be worked on was lower down the path and ascended straight through a bedrock outcrop.

Before starting work

We had to break our way through the bedrock again, before we could build the path. You can see some of the rubble that was produced in the photo below. In total, four sledgehammers were broken working on the Gowbarrow path, usually we're unlucky to break one in a year. The crowbars were also looking decidedly more blunt by the end of the season.

The path progresses

All the hard work was rewarded though, as we managed to complete the path on our last couple of days on the fell.
Completed lower section

Completed mid section

Completed top section

We'll be back working on Gowbarrow again next year, gravelling and drain building with the Fix the Fells volunteers. We'll also scatter plenty of grass seed around to help recover the fellside, as it was getting too late in the year to put it down this year.

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