WATCH: Merlins Lift 60 Tonnes Of Gravel To Restore Exmoor Path

A narrow path is no issue for a Merlin helicopter...

Merlin helicopters from RNAS Yeovilton's Commando Helicopter Force have combined military training with a good deed for the community.

While the Merlins are mainly used to transport Royal Marines from ship to shore, this time they tested their capabilities by moving 60 tonnes of gravel to repair a well-trodden path.

Situated on the edge of the River Barle in Exmoor National Park, the track is very popular, as the park's Access & Recreation Manager Dan Barnett explained:

"This section is really eroded and has become very muddy, so what we're doing is laying a surface of stone to just make it a better, all-year round surface."

Merlin aircrew prepare the bags to be airlifted.
Merlin aircrew preparing the bags to be airlifted.

Getting to the path is the reason the Merlins were called in. It is too narrow to fit any large construction traffic, whilst using manpower alone would have been a mammoth task.

For the Merlins, however, it was a relatively straight-forward task. By late morning, a quarter of the job was done, only poor weather putting a temporary hold.

Dozens of bags of gravel were transported to the path.
Dozens of bags of gravel were transported to the path.

The task was also used as training for the crews, as part of Exercise Merlin Storm.

"It's great that we go out and get lots of great training but it's also brilliant to be able to give something back to the local community and do something that is mutually beneficial," said Lieutenant Commander Andy White of 846 Naval Air Squadron. 

846 Naval Air Squadron have previously helped Dartmoor National Park with a similar task.

For now, it is back to training for the aircrews who hope to receive their flying wings in the very near future.