Repairing flood damaged paths after winter 2015

Published : 22 Mar 2016 Last update : 30 Jan 2018

Digging, hammering and sawing with the rain soaking down the back of the neck has been the average day this winter for the rangers and volunteers in Borrowdale and the Buttermere Valley since we were hit by storms in December 2015.

The water ran off the steep fell sides with such force that it gouged deep tears in some of our paths, and in places gullies and bridges have been damaged or completely carried away by landslides.

We had 21 landslides in Borrowdale and Buttermere Valley alone.

" The vast majority of our path network is absolutely fine, but there are isolated pockets of damage."
- Roy Henderson, Area Ranger for Borrowdale

We've re-opened many paths, but where safety is a concern we have had to close a very small number of paths and bridges – please keep yourself safe by respecting the closure notices.

Elsewhere you may find some surfaces are not as good as usual so just watch your feet in those places.

We’ve been working with the National Park Authority to put extra information at the most damaged bits to help you choose your routes when you are out and about. Check their website for a great map which shows the status of paths right across the Lake District.

In places paths have been gouged by rainwater
Cat Bells terrace path damaged by Storm Desmond
In places paths have been gouged by rainwater

River crossings closed

Some sad news is that we have had to close the packhorse bridge at Watendlath because despite it's venerable age the deluge has caused it to sag and crack. It is currently being held up by scaffolding but will need skilled care and attention to repair. However, you can still cross in the same spot as our Rangers worked hard in some terrible winter weather to build a temporary footbridge across the beck. The wooden footbridge at Moss Mire above Surprise View is also closed.

The finished product!
Installing a temporary footbridge in Watendlath
The finished product!

The Packhorse bridge at Rosthwaite has a damaged parapet and the footbridge at Kettlewell has been damaged but both are open. At Ings Wood on the Derwent Water lakeshore path 1 mile from Keswick the river has changed its course but the forestry team has managed to move the bridge so you can still walk from Keswick to Kettlewell along the lakeshore path, if the lake’s low enough of course!

This footbridge had to be moved when the river changed course
Foresters standing on the footbridge they've just relocated
This footbridge had to be moved when the river changed course

Help us repair Cat Bells

Is Cat Bells your favourite fell? It holds a special place in the hearts of many of us, but also suffered terribly at the hands of Storm Desmond. Emergency repairs were carried out by our Upland Path team in the immediate aftermath of the landslip that ripped through well-loved paths on the popular lower terrace, but with help from Keswick Mountain Festival and private donors we've already raised £15,000 and we are wtill hoping to hit our target of £25,000 to repair and protect Cat Bells for the future.

Keswick Mountain Festival's Steve Birkinshaw asks people to help Cat Bells
Runner Steve Birkinshaw with rangers on Cat Bells
Keswick Mountain Festival's Steve Birkinshaw asks people to help Cat Bells
Find out more