Footpath Workers

By Ron Williams, Ramblers Area Footpath Secretary

Walking in the Countryside is an enjoyable activity. This can be solo, with a friend or partner or as part of a walking group. In North Wales we live in one of the best walking areas in the UK. The paths are usually in at reasonably good condition and easy to follow.

Today the majority of complaints  that we get from members and the general public concern overgrown paths and stiles and missing steps. Totally obstructed rights of way are very rare. It was not always like this!

The reason we have by and large a good network of footpaths across North Wales is largely due to Ramblers Volunteers. Over the  last 35 years* these members have worked tirelessly to make complaints and follow them up.  This together with regular meetings  with the County Councillors and support from Ramblers Cymru and Ramblers Central Office have ensured there has been a steady improvement in the rights of way across the area.

Most of these active members are getting on a bit and need  younger members to join them. So what is involved, In reality not a lot. The hard work has already been done. Basically all that is needed is that when you go out for a walk you report any problems you encounter.  Complaints received about your “patch” need investigating. This often means just going to the problem and verifying that it needs reporting to the relevant County Council. Very often the problem can be sorted out with a pair of secateurs  and a small folding saw, There will also be committee meetings – usually 2 or 3 a year. You can claim expenses for these activities.

The danger is if we become  complacent there will be a steady deterioration in the path network. Thomas Jefferson said “The price of liberty is continual vigilance”, Vigilance is certainly  needed for those wishing to use and  protect our unique rights of way. This is illustrated by a current planning application in Flintshire. The applicant had ignored the existence  of the right of way across land that is to be developed into a  Camping and Chalet development. This was spotted by one of our workers and is now being diverted to the benefit of the general public and the holiday makers using the site.

If you think you can contribute and help please contact your local footpath secretary.