Lovers of the Lake District have made sweet music for one-time pop idol turned gardens expert Kim Wilde. A year after its launch, the Lake District's first online appeal to fix fell paths is celebrating making £327,000, although the fight to combat wear and tear by 24 million feet a year is far from over. Kim, whose Cumbrian fellside garden was awarded a prestigious Gold Medal at this year's Chelsea Flower Show, paid tribute to donors who have helped restore 54 of the National Park's renowned mountain routes. But there are still another 91 seriously eroded trails yet to be repaired. Kim's garden was also voted best in show in the Courtyard Garden category.
Kim is perhaps best-known for her pop career in the 1980s, which included her first hit single Kids In America, a five-month European tour with Michael Jackson, and US No 1 You Keep Me Hangin' On. But her determination to provide fresh fruit and vegetables for her two children - Rose, five, and seven-year-old Harry - meant she transformed herself from a pop star into a horticulturist. The move catapulted her into the new career, though she still relies on concert performances to pay the bills.
Backing the www.fixthefells.co.uk campaign, Kim, along with England test cricketer and long-distance charity walker Ian Botham, said protecting paths for future generations was paramount. "Once they have been destroyed, there is no going back," she said. "We have to fix the paths now. It is so easy to take them for granted, until one day they will be gone. We have to look after them and keep them safe for our children and grandchildren. It is important to keep the momentum up, so the £5 million appeal goal can ultimately be reached and all the damaged routes restored."
The inventive website got a chic new spring makeover, including clearer navigation and more vibrant colours. Each month a path sends either appreciation notes or pleas for help, with worn out from Patterdale, fragile Goats Hause and balding High Snockrigg taking part. An online shopping list also provides some novel purchases. Spending £10 buys a metre of new path side vegetation; £100 a metre of stone pitched path and £600 an hour's helicopter flying time to move stone.
Fixthefells is a joint initiative between the Lake District Tourism and Conservation Partnership, National Trust, Lake District National Park Authority, English Nature and the Heritage Lottery Fund. The Lake District National Park Authority's uplands paths adviser Richard Fox urged everyone who loves and walks the fells to dig deep into their pockets. "We've had a great start," he said. "But there's still a great deal to be done and a lot of money needed to do it. For every pound donated, the Heritage Lottery Fund will add another £2."