Follow the French
YOU exalt that invitation to bliss, the footpath sign, and then cite the Ramblers’ complaint about the number of paths now overgrown (‘For the love of footpaths’, November 23). As a lifelong walker, including on the Continent, I have to say it is the signs, not the undergrowth, that are the disgrace. It’s near impossible to walk even the great longdistance paths without a map and without getting lost.
The reason is that archaic feature, the signpost. There are never enough and they have often been removed or defaced by farmers or vandals. The Welsh coastal path is a mystery. Following a footpath in Britain is an invitation to confusion, fury and trespass. Small wonder they get overgrown.
In France, every path is marked by a painted flash on a tree, a gate or a wall, in red and white or yellow, depending upon status. Unlike wooden signs, this costs nothing to erect and is immovable and unavoidable. Even wrong turnings are marked with crosses. It’s nearly impossible to get lost.
What is the matter with the Ramblers? Signs are not the issue— just copy France. Simon Jenkins, London W8