The Ramblers has today, 14 November 2016, released the results of the Big Pathwatch, the nation’s biggest ever footpath survey.
Citizen surveyors walked every path in almost half the total area of England and Wales recording more than 100,000 features including attractive views and interesting flora and fauna; and locked gates, barbed wire across paths and missing or misleading signs.
The results revealed that although more than half (56%) of paths are well-kept and signposted, more than a third (35%) are in need of improvement and nearly a tenth (9%) are difficult or impossible to use.
Just over half of reported features were negative (55%), with muddy, ploughed or potholed paths, unsafe stiles, gates or bridges, heavy undergrowth or overhanging vegetation. Many of these made paths difficult or impossible to use. However, 45% of features identified were positive, with attractive views topping the charts.
The good news is that the problem is far from insurmountable – and we are now calling for everyone to take responsibility for their local paths by walking them and reporting any problems they find using the free Pathwatch app.
Nicky Philpott, the Ramblers’ director of advocacy and engagement, said: “It shouldn’t just be up to local authorities to ensure the upkeep of our paths. We all have a part to play in looking after them, which is why we want everyone to take responsibility for their paths. It can be as simple as regularly using your local paths. Get out and walk them. If you see a problem, use the Pathwatch app to report it and we’ll pass the information on to the local authority. Problems reported early that would be quick and cheap to fix can become difficult and costly over time.”
So when you’re out walking, pick up rubbish, carry a pair of secateurs and snip away overhanging vegetation. Or join one of our path maintenance teams and help keep paths clear.
The top reported problem across all regions was missing or misleading signs. We will therefore be concentrating the first leg of our campaign to resolving this problem.
To get involved in protecting the nation’s paths, visit www.ramblers.org.uk/pathwatch.