A student volunteer force has its sights set high in a bid to uphold the Lake District’s reputation as a world leading rock climbing destination.
Since W. P. Haskett-Smith scaled Napes Needle in 1886 - said to be the UK’s birthplace of modern rock climbing - the area’s renowned crags have become a mecca for enthusiasts.
But many of the smaller, lesser-known climbing areas are now neglected and underused, explained University of Cumbria outdoor demonstrator, Simon McCabe.
Based in the heart of the Lakes at Ambleside campus, Mr McCabe said it was important to maintain and improve climbing experiences on designated crags and scars.
He explained: “We’ve been working to improve the variety of climbing on offer, particularly for those who are new to the sport and perhaps venturing out from an indoor climbing wall for the first time.
“Indoor climbing is one of the UK’s fastest growing sports, but people struggle with the transition to outdoors where things are not so user-friendly.
“To help them, we’ve been out there, cleaning off dangerous areas of rock, identifying easier new routes and modernising existing ones where appropriate.
“It’s really encouraging that our students have joined this important renovation mission, ethically preserving the national park’s rich climbing heritage.
“The Lake District is home to some of the country’s finest rock climbs. We hope new generations of climbers will come here, gain experience, and one day conquer the challenges laid down by previous generations.”
Mr McCabe said while rock restoration continued, the aim was to extend the university’s contributions with a multi-disciplinary force of student volunteers from the Institute of Natural Resources and Outdoor Studies.
He added: “From foresters to conservationists, we have a lot to offer for wide ranging restoration tasks across our World Heritage Site. And from Ambleside campus, we couldn’t be better placed to lend a hand.”
Students have been assisting Cumbria Bolt Fund in a coordinated push with the Fell and Rock Climbing Club ahead of the publication of a new sport climbing guide book later this year.