Contours helps out with Pennine Way Conservation

The Pennine Way was opened in April 1965 as England's first National Trail, and remains to this day one of the UK's most iconic paths. As the Pennine Way is one of our most popular holiday trails - with us organising hundreds of walking breaks along its length each year - we leapt at the chance to give something back and help out with its upkeep.

Untitled-1 (20).jpgOn a chilly Saturday morning in March, ten members of the Contours team headed out to the Pennine Way to undertake some much appreciated conservation work for Peak Park Conservation Volunteers, overseen by Martyn Sharp, the Pennine Way Ranger for the Peak District.

We were tasked with a project at Devils Dyke; a drainage stream that runs alongside the Pennine Way off Bleaklow, not far from the Snake Pass. Martyn needed our help to keep Devils Dyke flowing smoothly to prevent water running onto and eroding the Pennine Way footpath. The weather was kind to us thankfully; it had rained heavily all the previous night and into the early morning, but had just stopped as we arrived. It remained dry all day, albeit a bit misty, with some welcome and brief sunny spells, before the rain returned just as we were leaving!

"I really enjoyed my time out with the team. All of the sore muscles are definitely worth it!" - Hayley P, Tour Pack Administrator.

We walked along the old Roman road of Doctors Gate, armed with spades and mattocks and sporting fluorescent orange work gloves, to join the Pennine Way. To get there, we had the aftermath of the 'Beast from the East' to contend with, which meant very carefully walking across the remaining snow drifts and snow banks and crossing a stream without any falling casualties, as well as walking along a very wet and boggy path in places. The path improved dramatically however once we joined the Pennine Way proper.

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"After an unexpected mountaineering adventure through the snow at the start of the day, we had an excellent time under Martin’s tender supervision. It was great to give back to the trails we depend on so much. I’m sure we’ll be doing something similar again soon!" - Alex, Database Team Manager.

After a short walk along the Pennine Way, we reached Devils Dyke. Martyn explained that he wanted us to remove the overhanging vegetation growth and widen the dyke in places on the non-path side of the dyke, in order to aid water flow and prevent the dyke overflowing and eroding the trail. The ground was frozen in places so it was hard work, but we all enthusiastically set about our work and had cleared the first designated section of dyke quickly. We continued working our way along the dyke, clearing sections as required. The sun then came out at the most opportune moment, just in time for our lunch break.

"I’m often out in the peak wilderness and see volunteers digging away at overgrown heather or clearing damaged routes. What crimes did they commit to be out here, I used to think. Now, there’s a section of the Pennine Way I can walk along and say 'we did that' and smile with pride, remembering how much fun we had and how rewarding the day was. Maybe you’ll see me on the route clearing a path and think, 'what a great way to spend a day outdoors' and maybe volunteer yourself, too!" - Ben, Customer Services Advisor.

After lunch we carried on for another hour or so; it was hard manual work we office workers weren't used to, and we were all expecting to have a few aching muscles afterwards! Martyn then suggested we all take a short walk further along up the Pennine Way to higher ground, so we could appreciate the views.

Untitled-1 (22).jpgThe keen walkers in our group have experienced Bleaklow previously, but the rest of the group were amazed by the scenery and the expanse of peat moorland stretching out before them.

"It was a really great day out. The location was fab, the scenery was stunning and it was a great team bonding get-together. You could do as much or as little as you wanted and the Park Ranger was fun and really appreciated our help." - Hayley S, Booking Team Manager.

The ten of us had a fantastic day. It was very rewarding to be able to give something back and to help Martyn, who works by himself a lot of the time. He relies upon volunteer groups to come out and help him to keep the Peak District section of the Pennine Way maintained, so that the 15,000 long distance walkers and 250,000 day walkers each year can enjoy this very popular trail. We'll be back to help out again!

Originally published 12/03/18

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