A Kirkby-based company had thought up an ingenious way of transforming quarries back to their former glory in 1998.

An employee at Burlington, which produced natural stone, suggested recycling fallen leaves into compost for use on landscape excavation sites.

And South Lakeland District Council had adopted the scheme as was more cost-effective than using landfill sites, which could cost around £20,000 a year.

It was estimated that half of the fallen leaves in South Lakeland would be recycled into Burlington’s Elterwater quarry, in the Langdale Valley.

Chris Fidler, head of contracts, said: “It used to cost the council £21.50 tonne for both site use and transportation. The amount of leaf fall varies but we estimate this year it will have been in the region of 1,000 tonnes”

The company was stock piling the region’s leaves at the rate of 100 tonnes a week.

The rotting leaves turned into a natural compost, used to encourage vegetation to grow on old quarry sites as part of a programme of planting.

Road sweepers were operating in the areas of Hawkshead, Coniston and Ambleside and were visiting the quarry six days a week.

Burlington was looking into the possibility of using the initiative to cover additional quarries.

Managing director of Burlington Slate David Parkin said: “The initiative is down to the forward thinking of one man, Donald Kelly.

"We are delighted to have found such a valuable and natural source of material to form an important part of our ongoing landscaping policy."

In 1997 Burlington natural stone cladding had been used by architects Abbey Hanson Rowe to give an 'Xtra' dimension to the interior of a new staff restaurant for the Halifax Building Society at Copley Data Centre, its main computer and distribution facility.

Burlington Light Green honed natural stone cladding had been incorporated as a wall finish in key areas of the coffee bar of the newly-constructed restaurant designed to cater for a site population of up to 1,800 which formed part of the society's headquarters complex.