Friends of the Lake District is celebrating 10 years of ‘Fell Care Days’ this week - its large scale joint volunteering events.

The very first event – Helvellyn Fell Care Day - began on a blistering hot sunny day at the end of September 2011.

Organised by landscape charity Friends of the Lake District, the event saw 120 volunteers and 50 school children take part in a full day of conservation work on and around Helvellyn. More than 20 organisations took part – including volunteer groups from the Lake District National Park, Friends of the Lake District, Fix the Fells, Natural England, the Dry Stone Walling Association, United Utilities, Natural England, undertaking a huge range of tasks including rebuilding dry stone walls, repairing woodland paths, clearing drains to prevent erosion on upland paths, litter picks, making bird boxes and a willow squirrel hide.

Photo: 14 bags of litter collected at Helvellyn Fell Care Day, 2011

It was the first of a decade of large scale volunteering events – since then there have now been 20 Fell Care Days in total, all over Cumbria – and the idea is still going strong, despite an enforced break last year due to the pandemic.

Since then more than 2700 volunteers have taken part in Fell Care Days, completing 193 separate tasks completing 1872 days’ work in the fells.

Just some of their achievements to date include,

  • 50,133 m2 of woodland work including coppicing, clearing non-native regeneration and tree planting,
  • 2,760 native trees planted (oak, birch, hawthorn, dogwood, alder, aspen, willow and rowan).
  • Over 215m dry stone walling,
  • Over 360km of path creation and maintenance,
  • 47 Fix the Fells drain runs clearing drains to prevent erosion on upland paths,
  • red grouse, red squirrel, fungi, dormouse surveys, invertebrate and river surveys,
  • invasive rhododendron clearance,
  • 19 litter picks – 7 canoeing, 1 diving and 11 shore based,
  • 100m hedge laid,
  • 97 bird and bat boxes put up,
  • 4 bridges built,
  • 5700 native snowdrops, daffodils and bluebell bulbs planted,
  • 1,000 hay meadow plug plants planted

And 4244 pieces of cake have been donated (and eaten) to fuel the volunteers!

Photo: volunteers maintaining upland paths on Catbells at Grasmere Fell Care Day, 2017

Fell Care Days have featured on many reports on TV and radio over the last decade.

The Fell Care Days have raised the profile of the immense amount of work which goes into taking care of the fells not only by volunteers but also by the organisations managing the landscape.

We are grateful to be able to work with the other organisations and land owners and managers in the Lake District, including the National Trust, the Lake District National Park, Fix the Fells, Forestry England, the Rivers Trusts, Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Natural England and many others, who have taken part in the Fell Care Days, by running conservation tasks, as well as local businesses and sponsors, who have helped make them happen, and of course the many volunteers who have together achieved so much.

Photo: Rhododendron bashers at Eskdale Fell Care Day, 2017

Friends of the Lake District’s Dark Skies Officer Jack Ellerby had the original idea for the mass volunteer days to highlight the huge role that volunteering plays in conserving and managing the fells. He said: “'Fell Care Days are about connecting people to look after their local landscape. Volunteers, whether residents, business employees or visitors, putting something back, gaining a sense of achievement and celebrating the beauty and diversity of the Lake District valleys. A positive, collective legacy of landscape enhancement - long may they continue.'

Joanne Backshall, Programme Manager for Fix the Fells, said: “Fell Care Days have been a great success, encouraging many people to play their part in looking after the Lake District Fells.  They have enabled visitors and locals to learn more about what is needed to care for the Fells and why.  We’re delighted to have been involved in these events which have seen hundreds of volunteers helping to maintain the upland path network across the Lakes for all to enjoy now and into the future.”

Join us at Haweswater Fell Care Day Thursday 4 November

The next Fell Care Day will be at Haweswater on Thursday 4 November. If you’d like to take part see more information on our Fell Care Days page or sign up to our enewsletter to stay in touch.


Photo: volunteers try dry stone walling at Grasmere Fell Care Day, 2014

See a few highlights from 10 years of Fell Care Days on our facebook photo album

See more photos from the first Fell Care Day - Helvellyn Fell Care Day 2011 on our facebook page

Photos from our last Fell Care Day - Buttermere in 2019