Kitchen porter Ian Aitken has become a regular feature along the verges of the Borrowdale road during lockdown, picking up discarded rubbish.
Armed with plastic bags and a hand-held litter picker, 48-year-old Ian, who works at the Borrowdale Gates Hotel, has been patrolling the normally busy road heading into and out of Grange village “about a mile in either direction” since January.
He usually goes out every fortnight and generally returns home with a full bag of recyclable rubbish and another three-quarters full of general waste.
The most prolific items he picks up are energy drink and beer cans but he has also come across McDonald’s food wrappers, which he believes have been deposited by visitors to the fast food outlets in Workington or Penrith – a minimum of 20 miles away.
The bulkiest articles he finds are wheel trims but one of the most bizarre items he has come across is a vacuum cleaner extension!
He was inspired to “go out and make a difference” after seeing other people picking up litter and witnessing businesses like Alpkit in Keswick organise clean-ups after staging large-scale events, such as an outdoor swim and barbecue. He was able to borrow his litter picker from Alpkit.
Ian, who grew up at Penpont in Dumfries and Galloway, came to live in the valley in 2006 and believes it has lost some of its “magical feel” because of the mess being left behind by visitors.
He said it was not too much of a problem when he initially came to live in the area but says it now “requires a bit more care.”
Ian, who has also worked at The Lodore Falls Hotel and The Borrowdale Hotel, said: “The message I would like to convey is that if people come to the valley, then they should take their litter home with them.
“You would not treat your home the same way that people treat the Lake District.”