Road to ruin
BARBED wire, broken stiles, electric fences, locked gates and untraversable undergrowth are just some of the problems with the 140,000mile network of footpaths in England and Wales, according to the biggest survey yet taken on public rights of way, organised by the Ramblers.
Some 14,000 miles of paths need improvement, according to the charity, and 20,000 signs are recorded as missing, with some of those in place ‘misleading’. The best paths are in the Peak District, where only 3% need improving. However, in Cornwall, barbed wire is a problem, likewise overhanging vegetation in Gloucestershire, electric fences in Wiltshire and signage in Shropshire. In general, routes are poorest in the South-west, West Midlands and Wales, with Snowdonia the worst national park.
The survey was undertaken by 3,250 volunteers, who, between July 2015 and January this year, walked every path in England and Wales.
In the same week that the survey was announced, landowners on Dartmoor were frustrated to serious complaint over cyclists, campers, joggers and ‘the tread of thousands of feet’ changing the moor’s landscape at the expense of the hill farmers who keep livestock on it.
Marion Saunders, chairman of the Dartmoor Livestock Protection Society, comments that ‘this idle amusement of millions of visitors should not be favoured over traditional