Path Watch in Flintshire

Report by Howard White of The Clwydian Ramblers

Getting out in the fresh air and going for a walk is a great way to work off some of those extra calories. With plenty of guide books and numerous paths to walk along it’s straightforward to organise a walk.

But have you ever thought what it would be like to lose the wonderful network of footpaths and bridle ways which make walking in Britain such a pleasure?

In 2015 the Ramblers launched ‘The Big Pathwatch’, an ambitious project to survey footpaths across the whole of England and Wales. Armed with a smart phone app or paper map, volunteers walked almost every path.

The results, released in Autumn 2016, found plenty of positive features, such as attractive views and interesting wildlife, but more than half the features reported were negative. These included muddy or potholed paths; unsafe stiles, gates, or bridges; heavy undergrowth or overhanging vegetation; missing, broken or misleading signs; locked gates and barbed wire across paths.

For Wales, the overall results showed that although about half our paths are well kept and signposted, more than a third are in need of improvement and over a tenth are difficult or impossible to use, causing people to sometimes abandon their walk and turn back.

The local authorities are officially responsible for the upkeep of paths but we all have a part to play.

What can you do to help?

This can be as simple as regularly using your local paths: well-walked paths don’t become so overgrown!

You can also download the Pathwatch app to your smartphone, details at www.ramblers.org.uk and use it, or the website, to report any problems.

Or you can report problems directly to the local authority or local Ramblers group – in the Mold area the group is The Clwydian Ramblers.

There’s a role for footpath maintenance volunteers too, the Clwydian Ramblers group has taken part in improvement projects this year as well as helping with some way-marking.

There are also various walking groups, if you don’t want to walk on your own – ‘Walkabout Flintshire’ offers free walks each week in Mold, see www.walkaboutflintshire.com

Although there is always more to be done, we walkers owe a big thank you to the Flintshire County Council Rights of Way team who always do their best to respond when we report path problems, despite financial and staffing pressures.

In 2016 we’ve seen dilapidated stiles replaced by new gates, water-logged footpaths drained, impenetrable vegetation cleared, fallen trees removed and way marking put in place. So let’s carry on working together to help keep Flintshire’s footpaths open.

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