Overgrown rights of way and missing signs among top problems on Northamptonshire footpaths

Rushton and Pipewell. The footpath leading to the Triangular lodge
Rushton and Pipewell. The footpath leading to the Triangular lodge

A study of Northamptonshire’s footpaths using a new app has allowed ramblers’ top gripes to be ranked.

The Big Pathwatch is a survey of all rights of way in England and Wales using the free smartphone app.

So far, it has highlighted 400 problems in Northamptonshire with overgrown paths, missing signs and paths that have been ploughed as the top issues.

Local authorities and volunteers are using the reports to help remedy issues.

Eleanor Bullimore, of the Ramblers charitable trust, which organises the volunteers and the app, 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 Northamptonshire who have taken part in the project so far by walking the paths they love.”

The app allows people to select a 1km Ordnance Survey map square, the footpaths of which they then walk,

While they walk, people can then highlight any path problems they encounter, as well as any positive things such as wonderful views.

Photos can then be uploaded and shared on Facebook and Twitter.

Across Northamptonshire many positives have been reported, including stunning views of open countryside, welcoming signs and interesting buildings.

But only a quarter of the squares have so far been claimed.

Mrs Bullimore said: “We still have more to uncover, and we urgently need the help of people in Northamptonshire to check the remaining 75 per cent of grid squares in the area to complete the survey.

“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.”

The work of volunteers is more important than ever, as cutbacks to local authority funding have resulted in the East Midlands seeing a 41 per cent reduction in the workforce looking after the area’s paths since 2010.

The Big Pathwatch will allow the Ramblers to create a comprehensive report on the state of the path network, which will be used to campaign for its upkeep.

Where possible, Ramblers’ teams will also head 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 also enable the Ramblers to come up with other long-term solutions.

Visit www.ramblers.org.uk/bigpathwatch to find out more.
Those who don’t have a smartphone can join in via the Ramblers website.