It’s a rock hard conundrum that has left conservationists in a spin.
But when the Friends of Ilkley Moor were faced with moving hundreds of tonnes of stone flags to the summit of Ilkley Moor they looked to the skies.
A helicopter has soared across the iconic moor to move over 500 tonnes of stone flags to its summit to help construct a new footpath.
The existing walk way has been transformed into a quagmire over the years and the Friends are on a mission to protect the moorland’s fragile peat areas.
They hope that the new path, which is being placed by the side of the existing walk way, will help the moor regenerate.
Barry Wilkinson from the Friends of Ilkley Moor said: “I think people living around here are probably used to the helicopter by now.
“You can hear the helicopter right across Ilkley and I think people have realised that it is not the police now.”
The Friends called on the helicopter last year to help move 300 tonnes of stone, which is believed to have come from a former Lancashire mill, onto the moor.
The path project involves more than 1,000 flags, each of which weighs around a quarter-of-a-tonne.
The helicopter is set to transport one load to the trig point and eastwards to the Dick Hudsons path near the Twelve Apostles,
The other load is set to be delivered west to Crawshaw Moss near Rivock Edge conifer plantation.
Mr Wilkinson added: “A lot of the footpaths on Ilkley Moor are in a terrible state and have become a quagmire.
“People try to dodge the mud but it makes the paths wider and wider.
“You can be up to your knees in mud.
“Some of the paths are four or five metres wide and it is destroying the heather.
“It has got to be done.”
Danny Jackson, countryside and rights of way manager for Bradford Council, said: “The aim is to lay the flags on strategic routes on Ilkley Moor and prevent further damage to sensitive habitats.”
The project is being supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and overseen by Pennine Prospects.
The Friends are hoping that the flags will be laid by the end of October and they are looking to construct a seat at the ruined lodge at Backstone Beck.