Help us reduce erosion at the places we care for

Erosion on Brown Tongue, Scafell Pike, Wasdale

Increased visitor numbers, social distancing and winter weather are taking their toll on precious landscapes across England and the footpaths we use to access them.

Find out what you can do to protect the places you love from erosion.

At the end of a year that's seen thousands more people benefit from spending time in nature, our rangers and volunteers are calling for people to change their walking behaviours to head off lasting damage. 

With England’s new tiering system and the upcoming Christmas holiday period likely to attract more people to get out and about in the countryside, we’re asking for everyone to do their bit to minimise the effects of any further erosion.  

Some of the routes that are most at risk are in the Lake District, where we have been working with our partner Fix the Fells for the past 20 years to carry out vital conservation work. Together we rely on the generosity of our supporters, who bring in around £500,000 a year in donations. We use these funds to maintain 400 miles of paths. 

How you can help us stop erosion

  • Wear appropriate footwear 
  • Stick to the original path. Straying off pathways can disturb wildlife and erode soil across heathland habitats 
  • Walk in single file or step off and back on the path in the same place when passing others
Erosion at the places in our care
Dunwich Heath early morning landscape

Dunwich Heath, Suffolk

A walking route at Dunwich Heath has significantly widened in recent months as people have moved off designated paths to socially distance. The sandy soil has been eroded with the worst of the damage in an area near the cliff path, regularly used to explore the coast. This heathland landscape is important as it’s home to the ground-nesting skylark, which has seen a dramatic decline in numbers during recent years.

A monolithed beech tree

Leigh Woods, Bristol

As more people visit the area, we're planning to create a £70,000 limestone pathway that's specially designed to protect the tree roots. In April visitor numbers reached 70,000, compared to 34,000 in 2019, reaching a peak of 110,000 in May. Leigh Woods is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and its grassland is rich in insects, attracting wildlife such as greater and lesser horseshoe bats.

Clumber Park Lake

Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire

Our rangers at Clumber Park have reported that areas of path around the lake have almost doubled in size because of erosion. People are being asked to stay on the main path where possible. We spend between £20,000 and £30,000 every year on resurfacing paths and with the added impact of social distancing it will take us more time to restore them.

Wooden footbridge across the River Wandle at Morden Hall Park, London.

Morden Hall Park, London

We're working hard to manage the effects of pathway erosion at Morden Hall Park, which welcomed 1.1m visitors this year. Our rangers are concerned that widening pathways and cut-throughs will compact the soil, making it harder for tree roots to breathe, which could damage the future health of trees.

Conifer Avenue in Nymans woods

Nymans, West Sussex

People exploring the 600-acre estate are being urged to keep to the paths to protect wild flowers. Erosion of paths is becoming more of a problem in woodland areas following a rise in visitor numbers, which have increased by 300 per cent in last few months. Walkers are being asked not tot take cut-throughs to avoid muddy walkways.

We need your support
Repairing footpaths

Help look after the places you love 

Footpaths allow us to access the landscapes we love but looking after them is tough and costly work. With your help, we can continue carrying out vital work to restore footpaths and make sure future generations can escape to beautiful places. Your support means more now than ever as we come to terms with the impact of the coronavirus.