The Big Pathwatch: Find out how you can help with national footpath survey

This new app sounds like a great way to help The Ramblers build a national picture of the state of the path network in England and Wales.

The Big Pathwatch

Thanks to David for this latest news from The Ramblers. Ed


The Ramblers has today (15 July 2015) launched the Big Pathwatch, the nation’s biggest ever footpath survey, following new research that reveals path problems are on the rise.

With more than 86,000 problems recorded on England’s paths, the Ramblers fears this isn’t the full picture and that the scale of the problem is far bigger.

The Big Pathwatch
The Big Pathwatch will for the first time build a national picture of the state of the path network in England and Wales and 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 our paths that stop people in their tracks. We need to find the true extent of the problem and explore how this affects anyone who uses our paths, whether that’s on their shortcut to the shops or while they’re out enjoying our glorious countryside.

“With a 20 percent cut in the workforce looking after our paths 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.”

Cuts having an impact
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 added:

“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.”

Download the free Big Pathwatch app
The easiest way to get involved 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.

Comprehensive report on the state of the path network
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 is protected for years to come.

Can’t use an App?
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 the Website.

Wednesday, 15th July, 2015 1:32pm

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Filed under: Island-wide, Isle of Wight News, Top story

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3 Comments on "The Big Pathwatch: Find out how you can help with national footpath survey"

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Jon Combe
This is a good start and I hope it will put pressure on IOW Council to maintain their paths correctly. However the app is based off the Ordnance Survey mapping. Not all paths that are on the IOW definitive map (which is the legal record of public footpaths) are on the Ordnance Survey map. These includes many of the paths on the south of the island which… Read more »
David Howarth
There are paths that have been closed for a variety of reasons, either on a temporary or a pernanent basis. You are quite right, they still legally exist, and we have a six monthly review process with the council to see if some paths can be reopened or diverted to a new location. Unfortunately once the paths have been closed then it is an offense to attempt… Read more »
Jon Combe
Thank you for the comment David. I do however think it is an omission that the app does not have an option to record that a path is closed, and whether it is permenant or temporary. Unfortunately path closures are a problem, not just on the island, but in many other areas. I think it would be a useful part of the survey to find out how… Read more »