The Ramblers launch Big Pathwatch as path problems in South West rise
The Ramblers has launched the Big Pathwatch, the nation’s biggest ever footpath survey, following new research that reveals path problems in England, including the South West, are on the rise.
With more than 8,750 problems recorded on paths in the South West and more than 86,000 in England, the Ramblers fears this isn’t the full picture and that the scale of the problem is far bigger.
The Ramblers needs as many people as possible in the South West to take part in the Big Pathwatch, which will for the first time build both a national and regional picture of the state of the path network. It will also investigate the impact these problems are having on people’s ability to use their local paths and the effect this has on their walking experience.
By getting the complete picture, the Big Pathwatch will help the Ramblers develop long term strategies to keep paths clear for the future, boosting tourism, the economy and the nation’s physical and mental wellbeing.
The Ramblers chief executive Benedict Southworth said: “The Big Pathwatch is the first time we’ll be asking everyone to help us walk every right of way in England and Wales and tell us what they find so we can protect and celebrate our amazing 140,000 mile path network, one of our nation’s biggest assets.
“We know that there are currently problems on paths in the South West that stop people in their tracks. We need to find the true extent of the problem and explore how this affects anyone who uses these paths, whether that’s on their shortcut to the shops or while they’re out enjoying our glorious countryside.
“With a 29 percent cut in the workforce looking after our paths in the South West over the last five years, it’s no surprise that these problems appear to be mounting and that we’ve now reached this crisis point.”
From overgrown or flooded paths and dangerous barbed wire to missing signposts and broken gates and bridges, these cuts are having a real impact on people’s ability to enjoy the great outdoors.
Benedict said: “We’re acutely aware that times are tough, which is why we want to find new, cost effective ways to ensure our paths, and the thousands of people who use them every day, don’t suffer.
“That’s why we’ve launched the Big Pathwatch. Together, we will walk every right of way in England and Wales to help build a national picture of the state of our path network – the first time this has ever been done. But more than that, we’ll use the results to find the long term solutions to keep our paths clear, boosting our nation’s health, happiness and the economy.”
The Ramblers needs everyone in the South West to get involved. The easiest way to take part is to download the free Big Pathwatch app. The app allows people to share their experiences as they walk every right of way within a specific grid square. They’ll be asked to note any problems they encounter, as well as share the positive features, the beautiful views or interesting landscapes they see.
The results of the Big Pathwatch will allow the Ramblers to create a comprehensive report on the state of the path network, which will be used to help inform a range of solutions to ensure its upkeep. Where possible, Ramblers’ path maintenance teams will be heading out to fix problems found through the survey, clearing brambles and other overgrown vegetation, improving path surfaces and fixing bridges and gates.
Importantly, the results will enable the Ramblers to come up with the long-term solutions to ensure the path network in the South West is protected for years to come.
Those who don’t have a smartphone can still get involved by downloading materials from the Ramblers website. To find out more, or to take part in the Big Pathwatch, visit www.Ramblers.org.uk/
(from a press release)
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