INTO Director of Membership, Oliver Maurice arranged for French environmental officers to visit his old stamping ground in the Lake District. The French team were in Borrowdale, near Keswick from 1-2 October 2008. The aim of the visit was to learn from the National Trust’s Fix the Fell paths team about a technique of path repair known as ‘pitching’, which in turn will be used in the mountainous region of La Drôme.
In May 2009, a team of National Trust specialists from the Lake District paid a return visit to advise on a number of issues relating to public access to Les Trois Becs mountain range, where footpaths have been closed due to erosion which has rendered them fatally dangerous.
The aim of the mission was to consider footpath erosion, repair and maintenance in this sensitive site where several solutions have been suggested which seem to conflict either with amenity or nature conservation objectives. External, overseas expertise has informed the debate and we hope that a permanent resolution will be forthcoming.
The INTO Secretariat team was lucky enough to spend an evening with the team during their May meeting that was held at Oliver Maurice’s house nearby and learnt much about building footpaths from local materials, the desire to avoid huge ugly scars and the need for footpath drainage.
However, perhaps the most important learning point was the impact the whole exchange had on those involved. Not only had the participants shared their knowledge and experience, but they had an extraordinary personal experience (one of the UK team said he had never been anywhere so beautiful in his life – and he lives in the Lake District!) and had come away enriched and inspired in ways that they had not imagined possible.
Read more about the first leg of the exchange here.