AROUND 100 tonnes of old reclaimed stone mill flags have been used to protect well used footpaths high up in the Yorkshire Dales, making them safe for many years to come.

The flags were supplied by Steptoe’s Yard, a reclaimed stone and flags business which started life in Earby and is now based in Accrington.

Work on the path, from the 702 metres or 2,303ft Buckden Pike - one of the Wharfedale Three Peaks - to the memorial to Polish airmen, on the path to Great Whernside, has taken some time, involved the use of a helicopter to carry the stone, and crosses what can be boggy land.

The National Trust Ranger Team, led by the trust’s Upper Wharfedale Area Ranger Peter Katic, and with help from the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority has reinstated and repaired close to half a kilometre of moorland footpaths across the Dales close to Kidstones Pass between Grassington and Leyburn.

The footpaths being repaired were high-up and away from any access road which meant the flags were delivered to a collection point above the village of Cray.

A helicopter was commissioned to collect the flags pallet-by-pallet and fly them high onto the moors where the repairs were taking place. The stone had to be carefully secured to make sure none of the flags fell on unsuspecting animals or walkers.

Area Ranger, Peter Katic said: “Steptoe’s Yard have supplied sandstone flags to the National Trust for a number of years now, and we’ve been laying them to reinstate and reinforce the popular walk from Buckden Pike summit to the Polish Airmen’s memorial, protecting the fragile peatland of the area.

“With the help of a Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority helicopter airlift, 2022 has now seen the completion of the works, all of which has been made possible by a generous legacy to the National Trust, aimed at protecting paths and enabling walkers to access this beautiful area.”

Following the delivery of the 10 full wagon loads of stone flags, the National Trust said it was extremely happy with the overall project.

A trust spokesperson said: “Thanks to the team for getting the flags organised and delivered to Cray. It was all done very efficiently and with plenty of time before the helicopter lift. Our thanks to the delivery drivers and anyone in the yard who helped sort and load the flags”

Steptoe’s Yard, which works with national parks to restore rights of way, says this most recent supply and delivery contract for the National Trust was in a remote and inaccessible part of the national park which meant the flags needed to be flown to the work site by helicopters.

A spokesperson said: “We fully understand the importance of the delivery specification required for helicopter airlifts; particularly in relation to sturdiness of pallets; strong double banding in each direction; maximum weight of 1100kg, and ‘pyramidal’ stacking.

“If we were to supply sub-standard loads on weak or damaged pallets and had incorrectly stacked materials and weak banding, it could lead to loads being lost in transit, which doesn’t bear thinking about if stone flags weighing up to quarter of a tonne were to ‘rain down’ from the sky onto walkers and animals innocently going about their business below.”

Steptoe’s Yard is a leading reclamation and salvage specialists in natural stone products including Yorkstone flags, sandstone and granite cobbles, walling and building stone. It has regularly supplied a number of National Parks and National Trusts with natural reclaimed products for restoring heritage rights of way, as well as local authorities for repairing and refurbishing historic properties and highway structures or bridges.

The spokesperson said; “In respect of public rights of way high in the Dales and national parks, we have supplied miles of reclaimed mill flags for the sensitive and natural repair and maintenance of moorland footpaths.

“And don’t forget, when out and about enjoying our beautiful Yorkshire Dales, please follow the “Countryside Code” wherever you go, you’ll get the best enjoyment possible and help to protect the countryside now and for future generations…’Respect other people’, ‘Protect the natural environment’, and ‘Enjoy the outdoors’.”

Find out more about Steptoe’s Yard, at