We have taken on two local apprentices in West Cumbria to help restore the glory of the old Track of the Ironmasters path on the popular Sea to Sea cycle and walking route.
Todd Dixon from Whitehaven and Connor O’Neill from Maryport are both 18 and are the first apprentices to be appointed to work on the new project, which is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.
They will work with our maintenance team in Cumbria on a variety of tasks including fence building, habitat management, path clearance and tree work. As part of the placement Todd and Connor will also study Environmental Conservation at Penrith’s Newton Rigg College.
Connor, who trained in joinery said: “I’ve been learning a lot and gaining new skills such as fence building which will be useful later. The work is very varied as we work with a wide variety of people, including volunteers and local authorities. I really enjoy working in the middle of the country. It’s very peaceful with great views.
Todd said: “I enjoy doing the work as it’s physical and outdoors and you can see how you’ve improved something. We’ve been getting involved in monitoring wildlife on the greenway as well as building fences and tree work. I like walking in nature and I know the path well as when I was little my mum used to take me down the path all the time.
Nikki Wingfield, project manager for Tracks of the Ironmasters said: “It’s fantastic to have Connor and Todd working with us here on the Sea to Sea. This is a really popular route and we are working with local people to bring the rich history and natural beauty of this path alive while making it an attractive place for a walk or a cycle.
In May 2016 we won a £859,300 from the Heritage Lottery Fund to preserve and improve the natural, social and industrial heritage of Tracks of the Ironmasters, and to share it more widely. The path, which runs from Whitehaven to Rowrah, and Workington to Seaton, Siddick and Broughton Moor, is linked to former iron ore mines at Knockmurton and Kelton and ironworks at Workington, Cleator and Distington. It includes a number of historic bridges and remnants of the path’s past, such as a rock crusher and railway signal.
We will be working with local people to restore the historic features and natural habitats along the path and tell the stories from a vibrant community linked to the railway.
The C2C route attracts around 15,000 cyclists every year for the challenging 140 mile long distance ride between Whitehaven and Sunderland. The path is also an important wildlife haven, attracting the nationally rare small blue butterfly, red squirrels, lizards, many types of bats and a very diverse range of wildflowers.