Lovers of the spectacular Three Peaks in the Yorkshire Dales National Park are being asked to vote for conservation work that is in the running for a cash award.
The European Outdoor Conservation Association (EOCA) is offering to fund repairs to a section of the footpath network near Pen y ghent that is in urgent need of attention.
But the scheme will only go ahead if it receives the vital funding it needs – and that will only happen if people go online at www.lfto.com/conservation on March 9 and vote for the Yorkshire Three Peaks route. Voting closes on March 23.
The repair work is part of the Three Peaks Project – launched by the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority (YDNPA) in 2009 – and was put forward for the grant by local charity the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT).
The Three Peaks challenge is an incredibly popular 24-mile walk over Pen y ghent, Whernside and Ingleborough, and the project aims to encourage charities, organisations and individuals to help in the maintenance and conservation of the network of paths crossing a fragile area of land that has to cope with 250,000 of visitors each year.
There are four UK projects in the running for the funding and they are featured in Trail magazine and Country Walking magazine. The public will have until March 23 to register their online vote for their favourite project, which could receive up to €30,000.
YDMT director David Sharrod said he was “thrilled” that the Three Peaks route was one of the four UK schemes short-listed for the grant.
“When we submitted our application for funding back in December, we were quietly confident that we had the perfect project up our sleeves in the form of the restoration and maintenance of part of the iconic Three Peaks route,” he said.
“Thousands take on the official Three Peaks challenge every year, with many more picking and choosing sections of the path, allowing them to enjoy the peaks individually.
“We believe that the Three Peaks Project would be a truly deserving winner of this vital funding boost that would allow us to work closely with the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority to protect this special route, now and for the future. To secure the funding that will make this project possible, we will need your vote!”
The YNDPA’s Ribblesdale Area Ranger Steve Hastie, who is also the Three Peaks Project Manager, said: “Much of the route is a sustainable walking surface catering for the high numbers of visitors as they pass through the best wildlife habitat and scenery the Dales has to offer.
“But there is one exception – between Pen y ghent and Ribblehead through High Birkwith. For this section, most walkers use the route over Horton Moor and Black Dubb Moss, which is badly eroded, with topsoil washed away, causing significant damage to internationally important peat habitat.
“An alternative, though little used, route lies over Whitber Hill. It passes over drier ground and uses mainly existing paths but needs some development work.
“The work people will be voting for would allow the Three Peaks route to be more environmentally sustainable in the long-term by repairing the eroded section over Horton Moor and Black Dubb to encourage natural regeneration and restore the wildlife habitat.
“And, subject to the landowners’ agreement, we would also develop an alternative shorter route over Whitber Hill and encourage Three Peaks’ walkers to use it.
“By completing this missing link and promoting it as the best way of completing the challenge, the Three Peaks walk can become an environmentally sustainable walk.”
The winning project will be made public in July at the OutDoor show.
The EOCA is a group of businesses in the European outdoor industry who have come together to raise funds to put directly into conservation projects worldwide. More information about the organisation is available on its website at www.outdoorconservation.org.