Flying and flagstones on Marsden Moor

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All the flagged footpaths are done by volunteers © National Trust

All the flagged footpaths are done by volunteers

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Footpath improvements have been one of the major tasks at Marsden Moor for the past few years. A number of paths have been worked on, and regular walkers on the estate will hopefully have noticed them.

The footpath from White Moss to Black Moss - the route of the old Pennine Way has been a big project, now nearing completion. Instead of the path being a wet bog, it is now a solid stone path. In spring 2011 the footpath running down Thieves Clough was also improved using stone flags.

A lot of work goes in to the footpath improvements; it is definitely not a straight forward process. The preparation involves:

  • Working out the length of the footpath to be improved and how many flagstones will be needed
  • Deciding on the most accessible and suitable location for the stones to be delivered
  • Arranging for the stones to be delivered
  • Arranging for the airlift to take place
  • Re-arranging the airlift if the weather conditions mean flying is not possible
  • Getting the helicopter to drop the stones at the correct intervals
  • Manoeuvring the flag stones into place along the whole path - battling against the weather and deep, sinking bog

Until the path is finally complete

It is hard work moving the flag stones in to place - some are so big and heavy that it can take 6 people to lift them. Heavy metal bars are used to lift the stones, and wooden posts are used to roll them into place. Since 2008 almost a mile (approximately 1500 metres) of flag laying have been completed, with over half a mile (approximately 1000 metres) still to go. All the work on footpaths has been carried out by our volunteers and community groups in all types of weather, and at every time of year.

The footpath improvements not only offer a better surface for walkers but help us to control and reduce damage to the estate. Scars on the landscape from wide, meandering paths are slowly disappearing. The moorland plants have a chance to thrive once more as walkers stick to the footpath rather than trampling through the vegetation, helping to create an altogether healthier environment.