Popular Peak District hiking path to close for eight weeks for restoration and habitat conservation work

One of the Peak District’s most iconic landscape features is to undergo extensive restoration work this spring.

By Ed Dingwall
Friday, 5th March 2021, 2:13 pm

Separating Edale from Castleton, and the limestone of the White Peak from the millstone grit of the Dark Peak, the Great Ridge is extremely popular with strollers, ramblers and runners for its stunning views of the Hope Valley.

However, it has been badly eroded by footfall and the elements and is in urgent need of repair.

The path will be closed for public safety for approximately eight weeks from March until May to allow the Moors for the Future Partnership to work on a 500 metre stretch between Hollins Cross and Back Tor.

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The Great Ridgeway offers walkers some of the best views in the national park.

Conservation officer Paul Titterton said: “The Great Ridge path is significant to many people, with historical importance too as it is so close to the excavated hillfort at Mam Tor.

“These works will help to preserve the landscape and people’s enjoyment with minimal disturbance to the surrounding habitat.”

The restoration should making the route safer underfoot, more accessible and visually in keeping with the landscape once the materials have weathered, but it will not just benefit walkers.

Maintaining the footpath is essential in protecting the fragile moorland ecosystems which surround it.

The project is intended to complement work that was done on the path between Hollins Cross and Mam Tor in the early 2000s by both the National Trust and Peak District National Park Authority.

Programme manager Matt Scott-Campbell said: “The effect on wildlife is less obvious but this location is significant for its biodiversity and, as paths widen, plants become trampled and birds nesting on the ground are disturbed.”

The project is being supported by the British Mountaineering Council’s (BMC) Mend our Mountains campaign, the Oglesby Charitable Trust, Ramblers Association and HF Holidays.

BMC conservation officer Cath Flitcroft said: “One of the most popular walking destinations in Britain, the stunning Great Ridge has the magic combination of spectacle and accessibility.

“The impact of all those feet is inevitable when you add the force of wind, rain and snow. The result is an eroded landscape where fragile vegetation and exposed soil gets washed away.”

The path is badly eroded in places, posing a hazard to walkers and disturbing wildlife.

She added: “The restoration will protect the trail for people to enjoy for years to come, and is part of our national campaign to repair heavily eroded paths and trails in all 15 national parks.”

For the period while the path is closed, the bridleway running just below the ridgeline, parallel to the Great Ridge, will remain open as an alternative route.