Mourne Heritage Trust Youth Rangers this week have been busy repairing upland paths using resources located on the mountainside. With the Mourne Mountains becoming a very popular recreational area, trails and paths are in constant need of repair and maintenance. By creating sustainable paths which will withstand years of walking traffic and in turn encourage walkers to stay on the path, preventing damage to surrounding vegetation. This will contribute to the protection of the fragile upland heath ecosystem of the Mournes. With current paths being no more than continuous trampling of vegetation and washing out of topsoil it is important to create a sustainable path. The Youth Rangers set to work splitting into three teams with each team working on different projects.
Team one located a new seam of glacial gold, essential for surfacing the path. The sandy material kindly deposited by the last ice age binds together with water and once compacted by walkers becomes strong and durable. The youth rangers created a mini quarry called a burrow pit and extracted over 1 tonne of material and created a stockpile for later on in the day.
Team two worked alongside Philip Savage, Countryside Officer creating an artificial bank. By peeling back the turf adding more soil and rocks to create a natural looking bank with a significant drop this will subconsciously direct walkers to the path. It is important to remove any desire lines to mitigate erosion which can create braiding leading to more erosion.
Team three began with digging a trench, filling with small rocks found on the mountain, to create a solid foundation. Once a solid foundation had been established it was surfaced using sandy gravel material mined by team one. Once leveled and compacted, the sand and gravel provides an ideal surface for walking on and resists being washed away.