COMING across house bricks on the steep climb to the summit of Penyghent and cleaning up tissues, banana skins and even beer bottles - its all in a day’s work for the national park ranger whose job it is to look after the Yorkshire Three Peaks.

Ian Colledge, 25, a former national park apprentice with roots in Ingleton, is the ranger in the Yorkshire Dales dedicated to maintaining the paths on Ingleborough, Whernside and Penyghent.

His job includes clearing the ‘cross drains’ on the paths walked by tens of thousands of walkers every year who take on the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge - to walk the 24 mile route and all three mountains in under 12 hours.

Many of the walkers are doing the challenge for charity, and not all are well prepared - one of Ian’s jobs is to clear up what is left behind, like the four house bricks on the path to Penyghent, believed to have been part of a prank.

The Three Peaks Ranger post is funded from public donations and was created in 2009.

Ian said: “A large portion of the work is looking after the path surfaces. Being upland paths they take a lot more maintenance than lowland paths, and they are very well used here.

“Clearing out cross drains by scooping out loose material is an important task because the drains are there to stop the surface washing away. “

Ian, who has family living in Ingleton, spent a lot of time growing up going up and down Ingleborough, at 723 metres, the second highest of the peaks.

“I’d probably have to say Ingleborough is my favourite of the three peaks and that’s mainly because I’ve got family that live in Ingleton.

“Growing up I spent a lot of time going up Ingleborough and it was the first of the three peaks that I did - I was six or seven when I first went up it.”

He added: “Without Ingleborough and all the time I’ve spent on it, I would never have had that interest in the outdoors and I would never have had the thought to do this kind of work in the first place. “

“I grew up somewhere quite suburban, so when I came up here it was a totally different world. I didn’t live anywhere so big.

“It was the sense of adventure I got here that I didn’t get anywhere else. It was a natural fit for me to get a job looking after the footpaths, so other people can enjoy them.”

Nick Cotton, member champion for recreation management at the national park authority, said the job of the Three Peaks ranger was a vital one.

“The current good condition of the Three Peaks route is one of the greatest achievements to date of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and its partners.,” he said.

“In the 80s, the paths in many places were impossible to use, such was the scale of the erosion and bogginess.

“Having a dedicated Three Peaks Ranger is essential to keep up the maintenance of the route and I wish Ian all the best in his new role. There could hardly be a more impressive landscape in the world to work in than the Yorkshire Three Peaks.”

The national park encourages people to keep track of what is going on in the area of the peaks by following the Three Peaks Ranger on Instagram or Facebook.

Ian said it was hoped that by following the ranger service on social media, visitors and challenge walkers, whether walking in groups or individuals, would gain a greater understanding of the work that went into maintaining the paths and learn to respect the precious landscape and take their litter home.

“The thinking behind the social media accounts is that they raise awareness of how much time goes into looking after the route.

“They are also a good platform to raise awareness of the Three Peaks Code of Conduct, including taking away litter and respecting the local community.”

He added: “A couple of weeks ago we found four house bricks on Penyghent.

“Someone must have put them in a friend’s backpack for a joke. Tissues and banana skins are everywhere at the moment, and beer bottles. It would help if people took their litter home with them.”

Craven District Council’s select committee has recently agreed to carry out a series of meetings with parish councils, emergency services, Welcome to Yorkshire and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority to discuss tourism and visitors.

Its members heard Horton-in-Ribblesdale, the usual start of the Three Peaks Challenge, was ill-suited for the thousands of visitors it got every year.

The select committee plans to come up with a set of recommendations on how tourism could be better handled in the Dales and across Craven, including Skipton.