Pathways Fund Supports Walking Route Restoration Projects

The Great Ridgeway in the English Peak District

Continuing our mission to support projects which help improve and protect the UK countryside in areas where HF Holidays guests go walking, in 2020 the Pathways Fund has been used to help projects in the Yorkshire Dales and Peak District. We are delighted that we have been able to support them.

£9,000 – Western Yorkshire Dales – Smardale Gill Viaduct Safety Improvements


The Smardale Gill Viaduct carries a popular walking route some 90 feet above Scandal Beck in Smardale Gill Valley. The viaduct is a popular focal point in the local area and is on several walking routes that HF Holidays uses for guided walks from Thorns Hall in the Western Yorkshire Dales. Guests enjoy views of the surrounding Westmorland Dales and spotting the occasional red squirrel which inhabit the Smardale Nature Reserve below.

Built in the Victorian era to carry the Darlington to Tebay railway (closed in 1962), the viaduct’s hand railings needed to be updated to comply with modern safety standards. At such a height, clearly it was important to have suitable railings if the path was to stay open to be enjoyed by walkers.

The Project:

The requirement to improve the railings was identified during a regular inspection in 2019. An upgrade was clearly necessary and the viaduct had to be closed in July 2019 for safety reasons while the work was carried out. Safety improvement works were facilitated by the fundraising efforts of the Northern Viaduct Trust, a charity that was set up in 1989 initially to acquire, restore and maintain Smardale Gill Viaduct. The charity has since gone on to care for two other viaducts and two bridges with the aim of protecting our industrial heritage. There are permissive footpaths across all of their viaducts.

Smardale Gill Viaduct was closed for over a year; the railing upgrade works are now complete with brand new hand railings installed. The path re-opened to walkers on the 17th November 2020.

On 11th December there will be a small re-opening ceremony attended by local MP Dr Neil Hudson to unveil a new interpretation panel that will explain the history of this marvellous monument of Victorian engineering.

Neil Cleeveley, Chair of Northern Viaduct Trust said: “On behalf of the NVT Board, I would like to thank our funders: the Yorkshire Dales National Park Sustainable Development Fund, Westmorland Dales Love Your Landscape Fund, the Hadfield Trust, HF Holidays and Railway Ramblers for their kind donations to the restoration.”

Restoration Continues

The 2019 inspection also identified the need for further repair work to the surface deck of the viaduct and its stonework. The Northern Viaduct Trust has commissioned a comprehensive survey that will take place over the next few months to establish the exact nature and cost of the works necessary to conserve this Victorian monument. The restoration work is likely to be substantial and costly and NVT will be launching a new fundraising campaign in the New Year. If you would like to donate to the project, please go to the Eden Viaducts website.

£9,000 – Great Ridge Pathway Restoration – Peak District


The Great Ridge Pathway is one of the finest ridges in the Peak District. It separates Edale from the Hope Valley and connects the summits of Mam Tor and Lose Hill. The pathway treats walkers to stunning and far-reaching views and is understandably very popular. Unfortunately, as is often the case with popular routes, the Great Ridge has suffered from severe erosion with sections of the route suffering from soil and vegetation loss. With walkers seeking to avoid sections of difficult terrain, the route is becoming widened, damaging land to the sides of the path. In some places the soil has gone completely with bare bedrock now exposed.

HF Holidays takes guests along the Great Ridge as part of the Derbyshire Gritstone Way Guided Trail.

The Project:

The Moors For the Future Partnership (MFFP) is aiming to undertake a high quality footpath restoration scheme along a large section of the path. The work aims to restore the popular walking route by creating a naturalistic footpath that matches the landscape, and protects the heritage assets that are present along the route. To achieve this, the following traditional upland footpath restoration techniques will be undertaken:

Flagstone path sections (231m)
Aggregate paths sections (672m)
Pitching sections (108)
Water Management features (Up to 21)
Landscaping (along the path where appropriate)

Additionally, the width of the path will vary along the route from between 1 – 1.5m. The restoration will use materials that are local to the site (e.g. gritstone) to match the landscape character of the area as defined by the local policies.
The HF Holidays Pathways Fund contribution will be used to create a section of aggregate path approximately 175 metres long.
Walking and Activity Holidays

HF Holidays' Pathways fund

Our Pathways Fund has, for many years, provided assisted holidays to those who could not otherwise afford one. In addition, since 1998, the fund has helped to protect and improve the countryside where HF Holidays’ guests walk. This is achieved through generous donations from HF Holidays’ members and guests.
FInd out about our Pathways Fund