An £189,000 project to enhance walkways at Aira Force is set to begin next month.
The National Trust scheme will replace an existing viewing area and footpath, which it says is unstable and unsuitable for long term use, with steel platforms, cantilevered out over the river gorge, to provide inspiring views of the river and waterfall.
The project, due to start on March 1, is being part funded by a grant from The European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.
The remaining amount, about 45 per cent, will be covered by funds that the National Trust has been gifted through legacy donations and fundraising, these funds are restricted and can only be used on particular projects at particular places.
Local contractors Lewis Conservation and Roland Hill will carry out the work which will involve the installation of steel gantry walkways and viewing platforms to replace existing paths in two areas.
The first area is an unstable section of footpath on the east side of Aira Beck, the second is focused on the lower viewing platform at the base of Aira Force falls which suffers from standing water, crumbling mortar and icing in the winter.
The National Trust said this approach will provide sustainable support to the banks which are heavily eroded.
Steel has been chosen to increase the footpath’s safety and accessibility, especially in the winter months when the famous falls can be at their most spectacular, it added.
While the new walkways follow the existing routes, they will allow more space to linger and admire the view, as well as thrilling glimpses downwards into the gorge through the perforated metal structure.
The work will take place between March and July, with the new sections of footpath in place and open to the public in late summer.
Some sections of footpath will be closed during the duration of the work and a one-way system will be in pace around the waterfall trails.
Project manager Charlotte Fuke said: “Over the last few years we have made several attempts to stabilise this section of footpath but due to the slope and the underlying bed rock it has been difficult to get the posts in sufficiently to be able to hold the path in place.
“We’re excited about this project, it’s an innovative solution to a persistent problem, it will recreate the drama that Victorian thrill-seekers sought out here many years ago.”
In line with government guidance, Aira Force and National Trust countryside space in Ullswater is currently open for local visitors to access for walks.
Visitors should follow government guidance and stay local.
Anyone interested in finding out more or wishing to follow the progress of the project should visit: https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/aira-force-and-ullswater/projects/improving-the-walkways-at-aira-force