Connecting the Hope Valley summits of Lose Hill and Mam Tor, heavy footfall over many years has left the Great Ridge badly eroded.
In March, the British Mountaineering Council (BMC) and local partners began to repair a 500 metre stretch where the damage was most serious, in order to protect its bordering landscapes and ecosystems.
BMC spokesman Dave Turnbull said: “We would like to thank all those who made the Great Ridge footpath repair project happen – the funding organisations, the individuals who contributed to Mend our Mountains, the Access & Conservation Trust and the walkers who respected the diversion notices whilst the work was in process.
“The restoration project has helped protect this much-loved trail for years to come.”
The project involved relaying the hilltop route with around 550 flagstones, lifted up the hill by helicopter.
Reclaimed from a local mill originally built from stone taken from the moors, the stones have a circular symbolism, as it was mill workers who led the Kinder Mass Trespass of 1932 which would eventually lead to the Peak District’s designation as the UK’s first national park. The ridge offers dramatic views across the valley to Kinder Scout.
Mike Rhodes, of the Peak District National Park Authority, said: ‘’Attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, the Great Ridge is one of the most popular upland routes in the park, and perhaps even the country.
“The restoration work to the path will help to protect the park as we celebrate a year that marks 70 years of access to these incredible spaces.’’
While the restoration was made possible by the BMC’s Mend Our Mountains: Make One Million fundraising campaign, work one the ground was led by the Moors for the Future Partnership (MFP).
By keeping to the footpath, visitors will be able to enjoy improved conditions underfoot whilst protecting the surrounding habitat. Peak Park conservation volunteers have also laid grass seed to fill in the gaps, though it will take a little time to establish.
MFP spokesman Matt Scott Campbell said: “These precious moorland habitats are on the doorstep of millions. Footpath repair is in an important part of our landscape-scale programme across the Peak District and South Pennine moors, helping us to enjoy the beauty, while protecting the landscape and its wildlife.
“By stopping the spread of erosion, it gives more space for birds to nest, protects bare peat and planting sphagnum moss which helps keep the moors wetter and is essential for the formation of peat.”
BMC’s fundraising was supported by the Oglesby Charitable Trust, South Yorkshire and North East Derbyshire Ramblers, HF Holidays and the park authority.
The Peak District is one of only two national parks to feature two projects supported by the Mend our Mountains campaign. Work to restore Cut Gate bridleway, which connects the Derwent and Little Don valleys between Ladybower and Langsett reservoirs, was concluded earlier this year.