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Lost paths and missing signs challenge ramblers

Stunning: From Ponterwyd to the distant coast
Stunning: From Ponterwyd to the distant coast

THE BIG PATHWATCH, the Ramblers’ most ambitious project ever to survey all rights of way in Wales and England, has highlighted paths shown on the map that people couldn’t find on the ground and missing signs as the top problems found on footpaths in West Wales so far.

Launched in July, the Big Pathwatch calls on members of the public to step out and walk their local paths and report back on what they find – be it problems or beautiful views – using the free Big Pathwatch smartphone app. Almost 14,000 people have signed up nationwide, reporting thousands of problems along the way. However, as the clock ticks towards the deadline on December 31, the picture across West Wales remains far from complete.

In Carmarthenshire, only 27% of the county has been surveyed, while in Pembrokeshire and Ceredigion the picture is even less encouraging, with only 22% and 20% respectively having been surveyed. There is currently no national picture of the path network.

Using a consistent approach to collect data the Ramblers Cymru aims to compare highway authorities with one another and identify patterns, for example, whether there is a correlation between the areas with the greatest problems, and the areas with the greatest funding cuts.

The survey will also provide reliable data on the most frequently occurring path problems, which will help to inform future Ramblers campaigns. We also want to use this project to engage a wider audience and encourage more people to care about their local paths. Ramblers Cymru Director, Angela Charlton said: “The Big Pathwatch is the first time a survey on this scale has ever been conducted.

We’re delighted with the amount of support and positive feedback we’ve received, and want to say a big thank you to the people of Pembrokeshire who have taken part in the project so far by walking the paths they love.” Over 600 problems have been identified across the path networks in West Wales, with half of those in Carmarthenshire.

200 problems have been identified in Ceredigion and 130 in Pembrokeshire. Local authorities and Ramblers’ path maintenance volunteers are using the reports to help remedy identified problems. However, it is not all bad news. Across West Wales many positives have been reported, including welcoming signs, stunning view of the countryside and coast, and many interesting buildings.

Angela added: “We still have more to uncover, and we urgently need the help of people in Pembrokeshire to check the remaining 78% of grid squares in the area to complete the survey. It’s easy to take part – all you need to do is download our free smartphone app, take a walk and tell us what you find. “With your help, we’ll be able to create a full picture of the state of our rights of way network, and come up with the creative solutions to ensure that our paths stay open for everyone to enjoy.”

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Dayne Stone

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