A FUND-RAISING appeal is being made to help restore pathways at an iconic Staffordshire Moorlands site.
Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, which is now the custodian of the county's most iconic landscape, the Roaches, near Leek has launched an appeal for £175,000 to regenerate some of it's pathways over the next three years.
With almost 1,500 acres packed with breathtaking views, it is little wonder that an estimated 100,000 visits take place every year at The Roaches.
James Dennison, fund-raising manager at Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, said: "Sadly, this intense visitor pressure all year round coupled with thin soils is having a detrimental effect on the fragile environment.
"Huge scars, sometimes five metres across and over a metre deep have been cut into the side of the hills by walkers' boots and water run-off. Not only are these scars ugly, they are also damaging the habitat and making access treacherous.
"We urgently need support to fund the restoration of these paths using traditional upland footpath techniques. Over the next three years we need to raise £175,000 to tackle the worst affected areas."
Areas set to be tackled during this project include: Roaches Gate Path, Backforest Boardwalk, path to Trig Point, bottom of Princess's Steps, and Princess's Chair path.
James added: "We know this is a lot of money, but we also know that if we restore the paths properly they will last for generations and require minimal future maintenance.
"We have a long term commitment to look after the Roaches so we need to ensure we do the best job we can. The footpaths we restore through this project will be used millions of times by visitors.
"Wherever possible we will re-use stone that is in-situ. Unfortunately we know that there is not enough stone so we will need to bring in material from nearby quarries by helicopter. This adds to the expense, but is the most efficient way of getting heavy materials into difficult to reach areas without causing even more erosion.
"Work will begin this summer and is likely to proceed in phases over the next two to three years. Our volunteer teams will be involved in the project wherever possible, but due to the amount of work that is needed much of the work will be undertaken by specialist contractors. The Roaches will remain open throughout all this time with minimal disruption."
Roaches Warden Jon Rowe, explained the method that will be used for the first phase of the work at 'Roaches Gate Path': "We will be taking out the large stones and putting grit stone aggregate on the path which will also have stone gutters and moss drainage put underneath so that water does not run over the new path.
"We will be keeping it as natural as possible to blend in to the landscape."
Jon, who has been in post since the beginning of April, said: "I am enjoying it - getting to know the site and getting to know the hidden secret parts of the site.
"It is a very popular site especially with the Peregrine Watch."
Jon and Andy are hosting Volunteer Days every Friday, meeting at Roaches Gate at 10am, as well as the last Saturday of every month.
To donate to the Roaches Footpath Appeal, either call 01889 880 103 (during office hours), go online to www.staffs-wildlife.org.uk/roaches, or donate by texting 'rock10 £5 / £10' to 70070.