Cumbria’s well-trodden trails and footpaths have received a £4 million boost to repair flood damage caused by Storm Desmond last December, Floods Minister Thérèse Coffey announced today.
The Cumbria Countryside Access Fund will help reinstate and improve public rights of way across the Lake District and rural Cumbria, reopening connections between rural towns and villages, and making it easier for visitors to explore attractions and long-distance trails on foot.
The Rural Payments Agency (RPA) has awarded a total of £3 million to repair the Lake District National Park’s network of much loved walking trails. A further £1 million will be spent on further work in rural areas of Cumbria outside the National Park.
These grants will boost tourist confidence that the Lake District is back open for business, as well as benefiting Cumbrian residents. According to research by Cumbria Tourism, in 2015 the county’s 43 million visitors brought £2.62 billion to the local economy and created the equivalent of 35,000 full time jobs.
Floods Minister Thérèse Coffey said:
Recovery work in Cumbria continues apace, with £150 million spent across the county this year to get communities back on their feet.
This new £4 million fund to repair and improve trails and footpaths across the county will mean visitors and residents can continue to enjoy all parts of the Lake District. It was encouraging to read local figures showing a record summer for occupancy rates of holiday accommodation.
We’re committed to continuing to help the people and businesses of Cumbria recover from the devastating winter floods.
Richard Leafe, Chief Executive of the Lake District National Park, said:
This year we’ve made a start on repairing some of the areas most affected by the floods, but with limited funding from our own resources and donations, it’s been a challenge. This £3 million is fantastic news. It will allow us to launch our extensive recovery programme that will not only reconnect flood-damaged public rights of ways, but also make them more robust and resilient for the future.
We are confident ‘Routes to Resilience’ will benefit everyone who enjoys the Lake District and also bring a much-needed boost to the local economy. Our park rangers are ready to get started and reconnect the Lake District!
Chief Executive of the RPA Mark Grimshaw said:
The Cumbrian countryside, including the Lake District National Parks, includes some of the most beautiful scenery that England has to offer and is a major feature of the local tourist economy.
I am delighted that the creation of the new Cumbria Countryside Access Fund will help restore rights of way popular with locals and visitors as well as protect them from any future instances of flooding.
Grants of £1 million have been awarded in each of the North, East and South Lake District areas. In addition, Cumbria County Council and the Canal and River Trust have both been awarded £500,000 for projects throughout the county.
The Lake District National Park will spend their £3 million funding on a new project, ‘Routes to Resilience’, which will start in January and last 18 months. A new project manager and a new team of 4 rangers and 7 field rangers will help existing staff repair or replace bridges, path surfaces, gates and other features across the Park.