16 December 2016 by Pathwatch
Last month, our Pathwatch campaign launched with a week of path maintenance on Offa’s Dyke Path. Rambler’s delivery officer, Anna Brewster, rolled up her sleeves and got stuck in.
Pathwatch launch week on Offa’s Dyke:
Ramblers’ path maintenance teams come out in force to highlight the importance of keeping our pathways open
Last year we ran our biggest ever footpath survey: the Big Pathwatch. This November, we launched the Big Pathwatch report and a campaign to encourage people to care about paths and recognise them as the national asset that we know they are.
As part of the launch, we embarked on an ambitious week of path maintenance activity from 14th - 20th November, inviting our amazing volunteer teams to help clear problems along the iconic Offa’s Dyke Path.
The aim of the week was simple: to highlight the immense contribution that our volunteers make to keeping the nation’s paths open and accessible, enabling everyone to go walking and experience the outdoors on foot.
We chose the long distance national trail of Offa’s Dyke as the focus in recognition of its popularity, reputation and the fact that it crosses both England and Wales – where the survey took place.
Over the course of the seven days, Ramblers path maintenance teams from surrounding areas grabbed their shears, secateurs, high viz jackets and not to forget the all-important flasks of tea and plenty of cake, and came out in force to tackle different sections of the path.
Here are some of the highlights from the week.
Southwold Yate Ramblers cleared 100 metres of vegetation from the very beginning southern section of Offa’s Dyke in Sedbury. This is a key part of the path for access to the trail, and the results of a day’s work by six dedicated Ramblers path maintenance volunteers (and one Ramblers staff member!) were plain to see.
Also out in force on Monday were volunteers from the Powys area, who installed 10 metres of oak plank revetment and a short boardwalk. In Powys, Ramblers volunteers are part of a the Countryside Volunteers Scheme, coordinated by Powys County Council, who volunteer their time regularly to maintain public rights of way in the county.
Braving the cold, foggy, drizzly weather, seven Berwyn Ramblers volunteers were out on Tuesday digging out and clearing 22 crossing channels all along the track from the car park to the Jubilee Tower at the top of Moel Famau. Two wardens from Denbighshire council coordinated the work, which was a huge success. Not content with this huge achievement, the volunteers collected two bags of litter on the way down!
Three Telford and East Shropshire Ramblers volunteers and one Ramblers staff member joined the Senior Countryside Warden for the Clwydian Range & Dee Valley AONB in decidedly more friendly weather on the Wednesday. The team were at Cyrn y Brain, near Llangollen, focussing their efforts on heather clearance to stimulate regrowth. They also turned their hands to some habitat building to ensure walkers followed the Offa’s Dyke path and didn’t disturb the nearby land. Nature obviously appreciated their efforts, shooting a rainbow across the sky as the day’s work drew to a close.
Well, it was bound to happen… after a two hour journey to Llangollen intending to clear paths and improve habitats for wildlife, Congleton Ramblers ended up spending the morning sheltering from heavy rain before having to abandon their plans. With the best will in the world, sometimes you just can’t beat the British weather! Nevertheless, we’re immensely grateful to the volunteers from Congleton Ramblers who gave up their day to help support the project and such is their dedication that we know they plan to return to complete the job when the weather is brighter.
Saturday was the turn of Cirencester Ramblers, who spent an active day clearing fallen trees and cutting back vegetation of a section of Offa’s Dyke just north of the stunning Devils Pulpit, so everyone could walk the path and admire the incredible views. Thankfully the weather was decidedly more cooperative for the six path maintenance volunteers.
Celebrating the last day of a week of intensive work, we were resident at the beautiful Chirk Castle in North Wales for the day. We took along photos from the week so we could chat to visitors about what we’d been doing, along with information about the Pathwatch campaign. Ramblers’ staff were joined by volunteers from Berwyn Ramblers, Wrexham Ramblers and North Wales area, to chat to visitors all about path maintenance.
It was also a wonderful opportunity to welcome the new Chief Executive of the Ramblers, Vanessa Griffiths. She quite literally got her hands dirty helping us to complete the very last piece of path improvement of the week – installing a waymarking post near Pentre.
After a week of muddy boots, blistered fingers and aching joints, we’re in full swing with Pathwatch.
We would like to say again how much we appreciate the time and cooperation of all the Ramblers groups who participated in the Offa’s Dyke Path project. But it was so much more than that. Dozens of other Ramblers path maintenance teams rolled up their sleeves during the week, carrying out work in their own areas and sharing some lovely photos – check out the incredible amount of work in our path maintenance gallery, and on our map of Ramblers path successes.
So once again, a huge thank you to our amazing volunteers who do so much to help keep our paths clear.