Walkers on a major route through north Northumberland will be able to keep their feet dry this summer thanks to work by rangers.
A major work programme by the National Parkis taking place this month on the Pennine Way in the Cheviots.
At several locations, sections amounting to more than a kilometre of the national trail, some of which currently have boardwalk, are being paved with recycled sandstone flags.
Thanks to financial support of £160,000 from Natural England, Northumberland National Park Authority has been able to buy old mill flags that ‘float’ on the vegetation providing a firm walking surface and preventing further erosion of the peat.
The vital funds will also enable the hundreds of tonnes of stone to be airlifted on to the Border Ridge, where there is no vehicle access, and to hire local contractors to assist with putting the flags in place.
Work on sections of the trail at Auchope Cairn and at Wedder Hill are under way now, followed by further work on the section of the route at Padon Hill in Redesdale.
It is a challenge for the National Park Ranger team working at this height and getting people and equipment to such a remote area.
The weather conditions at this time of year are unpredictable with recent lying snow and frozen ground.
The Authority’s rights of way officer, Lorna Lazzari, said: “We’re delighted at last to have the funds to make these vital upgrades to the national trail.
“When footpaths become waterlogged, people will naturally divert off the path on to the fragile vegetation, which results in large patches of erosion along well-used routes and much greater damage to both the peat soils and the footpath.
“This part of the Pennine Way has long, challenging stretches between shelter and accommodation, but during the dry summers the going is relatively easy.
“With so much rainfall recently, it has been both uncomfortable and distracting for walkers forging through a stretch to enjoy some of the finest views in the Borders.”
Northumberland National Park contains some of the best bogs in Europe, which have been largely untouched for 10,000 years and the high hills of the Cheviots have been covered by a layer of peat known as blanket bog which is an important carbon store.