A LAKE District man who fell into alcoholism as a way of coping with depression said the national park’s fells enabled him to turn his life around.

Twenty-nine-year-old Harrison Ward, of Ambleside, said his struggles with mental health began as a teenager.

Mr Ward, mail order manager at Grasmere Gingerbread, first discovered alcohol when he got a job working in the hospitality industry and said that, by the age of 20, he was consuming more than 20 pints a day and weighed more than 22 stone.

“I really went out and drank myself to oblivion,” he said.

After finishing a degree at York St John University, he carried on working behind the bar at a hotel in the city. His early twenties were turbulent, as he continued to use alcohol as a coping mechanism and made an attempt on his own life.

However, when a relationship he was in broke down, it served as the motivation for him to turn his life around. Mr Ward moved back to the family home at Brampton, Cumbria, severing his ties from York and cutting out alcohol and cigarettes in the process.

“I left my job. I left my house. I didn’t say goodbye to anybody,” he said.

Within a fortnight, an old friend of his, Ryan Smales, ‘dragged’ him up Blencathra.

A week later and it was Helvellyn. It was this ascent, according to Mr Ward, which began his love of walking.

“Something really ignited and a new addiction had been sparked really,” he said.

“Looking down over Striding Edge with Red Tarn below, it just really triggered something in me.”

This was in the middle of 2016. Ascents of Scafell Pike, Snowdon and Ben Nevis followed and, by May 2017, Mr Ward found himself lining up at the start of the Brathay Marathon.

Now, with more than 100 Wainwrights completed, he has added a novel twist to his ascents. Under the banner of ‘Fell Foodie’, he takes cooking equipment up with him and whips up delicious food in picturesque surroundings, sharing his culinary creations on social media.

“(The fells) have enabled me to turn my life around,” he said. “They have allowed me to get back on track.”