Travel writer Nick Corble has slammed the state of East Staffs footpaths as the “worst he’s seen” during million-step walk through England – but is your area even worse?
Nick Corble is part of the way through his Diagonal Walking project – a mission to cross England, involving his readers with the process of creating a new travel book as part of the process. But with May designated National Walking Month and regular calls for the public to get more active, the state of footpaths in East Staffordshire needs some attention, he has claimed in a recent blog post entitled ‘Playing Hunt the Footpath‘.
Speaking about what he encountered during his four days walking through the county, Nick recounted tales of neglect, dangerous practices, and even hostility towards walkers and walkings. Are poorly maintained footpaths becoming the walkers’ equivalent to potholes on the roads?
“Broken and dangerous stiles, often rotten or with protruding nails, electric fences erected willy-nilly, even blocking access to a stile; crops sewn right up to the edge of a field, making walking dangerous; crops sewn right across footpaths and, worst of all, direction signs often missing altogether.” An unhappy Nick commented that “At times, it was like playing ‘hunt the footpath.”
Nick did have some good things to say about the local landscape: “It’s a crying shame, as East Staffs is host to stunning countryside, views and vistas, and the country in general has a real asset in its footpath system. It’s just crazy that no one’s really putting two and two together.”
Nick added: “I know councils are strapped for cash, and that Staffordshire now has a policy of prioritising footpaths for maintenance, but I think it’s more about attitude than cash. If we don’t look after these vital arteries, they’ll be lost forever.”
The footpaths in your area
The problems that Nick has encountered can be seen in many less-popular walking areas. For example, in East Lincolnshire, which is home to our Online Editor Alex, footpath neglect is often extreme. There is a lack of investment coupled with landowners and local councils failing to carry out their legal duties to maintain rights of way, but it can’t be denied that the fault is partly our own – if more people used these footpaths, it’s likely that they’d be more of a priority.
Let us know
Are the footpaths in your area in poor repair? Send your photos and stories to our Online Editor Alex at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What can you do to help?
- Contact your local council with details of the problem, including location and photos.
- Use Ramblers Pathwatch, which offers both a smartphone app and a way of logging access problems online – anonymously if required.
- Encourage more people to use your local footpaths. The more people use rights of way, the more people will care about access problems.