Gatescarth Pass, for those who do not know, is arguably the finest route open to trail riders (and 4x4s) in England. It's between Mardale, which is now occupied by Haweswater, and Longsleddale in the south eastern Lake District.
From the north it's a steep, hairpin, rocky climb to 590m, descending in not quite so challenging a way to Sadgill in Longsleddale from where the also interesting Longsleddale Pass leads to Kentmere.
Gatescarth is a Byway Open To All Traffic, controlled by a TRO (Traffic Regulation Order) which allows permit use by a limited number of vehicles on one day each month. Permits are issued by the Lake District National Park.
Cumbria TRF Group has an excellent relationship with the Park and participates in its management system. The Pass holds up well to its use by motorcycles and 4x4s, the much greater numbers of walkers and mountain bikers, and the very occasional horse rider; but being in one of the wettest parts of the country obviously needs some looking after.
To this end, on July 18th, 8 Cumbria TRF members, with 2 more from West Yorkshire and Ribble Valley spent the day cleaning and repairing the drainage on the north side along with 2 Park Rangers and 1 of their volunteers.
It was mainly a matter of cleaning and redigging cross drains, and ensuring that drains under the track were free from obstruction. Pitching, which we helped with nearly 10 years ago is still not in too bad a condition. One needed to work fairly hard to counter the low temperature, howling gusts of wind and showers – typical Lake District July weather.
The Rangers judged that the Pass is in pretty good condition, and that we should do the same again in Autumn '16, with a review of the situation at the next Park's Gatescarth Management meeting in the Spring, which we participate in along with GLASS, the 4x4 driver's umbrella body.
So, a good day's work, and everyone happy!