Path maintenance teams off(a) to fantastic start on Offa's Dyke

This week, our Pathwatch campaign launched with a week of path maintenance on Offa’s Dyke. Rambler’s campaigns officer, Laura Burley, caught up with volunteers on the 177 mile National Trail to get her hands dirty.
Laura Burley

Monday dawned mild and misty as I hopped on the train to Chepstow for a day of path maintenance on Offa’s Dyke Path in nearby Sedbury. The River Severn unfolded like a silver ribbon as the train chugged along from Gloucester over the border into Wales. This was my first trip to Offa’s Dyke, the ancient monument that runs along the border of England and Wales. It’s named after the Welsh king, Offa, who ruled Mercia in the eighth century and is traditionally believed to have ordered its construction. At 177-miles long, this National Trail is certainly quite a walk, but well worth it - it passes through three areas of outstanding natural beauty and offers up some truly incredible views

On arrival in Sedbury, I met Ramblers volunteers from across Gloucestershire and Bristol as well as staff from Gloucestershire County Council, with the aim of clearing a section of the Offa’s Dyke Path. Being my first time joining a path maintenance team, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but felt well-prepared in wellies with a pair of secateurs in my bag!

Sedbury path maintenance Nov 2016

National trails are unusual paths these days, often enjoying their own staff teams to look after them. Not all paths are so lucky. With decreasing resources to look after paths, they are suffering, and we’ve launched the campaign to tackle this. We know that paths in places that are actively cared for – like national trails and national parks - are better as a result, and we want the same well-cared for paths everywhere. This stretch of Offa’s Dyke, was mostly clear, but the undergrowth alongside the dyke could soon overwhelm the path if it wasn’t brought under control. We made short work of cutting back the ferns and brambles, expertly wielding pruners and brush cutters. Despite the rain, everyone was very cheerful and enjoyed a much-deserved slice of cake at lunch!

We embarked on the maintenance here as part of the launch of our Pathwatch campaign, which aims to get all rights of way in England and Wales well-maintained by 2020. This Sunday (20 November 2016) Ramblers will be further north along the route at the stunning Chirk Castle, tackling more path maintenance and chatting to people about the Pathwatch campaign.

These volunteers and many other path maintenance teams do amazing work all across the country each week. So if you want to get fit, meet new people and protect the places you love to walk, I’d definitely recommend joining a team near you.

Sedbury path maintenance Nov 2016