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Lake District hires its first 'Woman at the Top'
A PROJECT to protect the Lake District’s network of paths has hired its first ever ‘Woman at the Top’.
Breaking a 17-year tradition of men fulfilling the role, Sarah Anderson is to become the first woman to look after and repair paths in the highest reaches of the Lakeland fells, which can only be done by the most skilled footpath rangers in the national park.
She will also be responsible for mending fences and maintaining landscapes.
Sarah joined Nurture Lakeland’s Fix the Fells programme as a volunteer six years ago, and has had various seasonal jobs with the trust while she was studying, resulting in her becoming an upland ranger in spring 2012.
“It is a real pleasure to be the first ‘Woman at the Top’, especially as I myself started as a volunteer on the Fix the Fells’ scheme,” said Sarah.
“I love being out in the mountains and I am really looking forward to making positive contributions to the upland path network. With our tasks ranging from path maintenance, hiding path erosion and the creation of new, more sustainable, paths there is always plenty to do whatever the weather – and with the support of our dedicated volunteers, we are making a real difference.”
Heart of the Lakes, the holiday cottage letting company, helps to fund the project through a visitor payback scheme, where customers are given the opportunity to make a financial contribution towards the landscapes they visit.
The scheme has so far raised £200,000, which has been match-funded by Heritage Lottery Fund to raise £400,000 towards maintaining paths. The HLF has stopped funding the project this year.
Peter and Sue Jackson, from Heart of the Lakes, said: “The work carried out by previous ‘Men at the Top’ has been vital in keeping our wonderful fell landscape in good condition and we’re sure that Sarah will do a great job in continuing this very important work.”
Nurture Lakeland fundraising development officer Ruth Kirk, who runs the visitor payback scheme, said: “What Sue and Peter have done through the simple act of adding an additional £2 to their booking fees is an inspirational example of how tourism and conservation can be mutually supportive to protect our internationally celebrated landscape”.