1st April 2020
How many miles of paths are there are on the Eastern Moors?
This is a question the Eastern Moors team asked themselves before setting up annual path surveys to check on the condition of all the paths on the Eastern Moors and Burbage.
A rough estimate suggests the Eastern Moors (not including Burbage!) contains 81 miles of footpaths. With at least as many again on Burbage, this gives the Eastern Moors Partnership team a big network of paths to look after.
There are all sorts of paths on the paths on the Eastern Moors and Burbage, for all sorts of people!
These paths are a vital part of the feature of the moors, woods and valleys of the Eastern Moors, giving people the right to access through public and concessionary rights of way as well as desire lines through open access land. An important part of our heritage, the legal right to access was fought for by our predecessors.
As part of our work to ensure continued access, the Eastern Moors team carry out track repairs to improve the quality of paths surfaces. In order to plan these repairs, the team need to know the condition of paths, some of which have existed for hundreds of years. There is really only one way to do this despite all the technology available to us in the 21st century and that is to get out and walk the paths themselves, all (roughly) 160 miles of them!
This wonderful (and often wet!) job mainly falls to the fantastic team of volunteers who donate their time to the Partnership. They can often be found in all weathers on the moors with a clip board noting the three factors we use to measure footpath condition:
- Drainage – how waterlogged the footpath is
- Robustness – the potential for erosion e.g. due to a loose surface material or a steep slope
- Spread – the likelihood of path widening into the surrounding area
A map showing footpath survey results on Big Moor
As well as the path condition, we also take into account a number of other factors when planning track repair:
- The amount of use a path gets - this gives us an indication of how quickly its condition may be degrading as well as the impact of improvement works.
- The designation of the path – public footpath, concessionary bridleway etc. This gives us some idea of the type of user and what kind of repairs would be suit them, for example loose gravel is not used on bridleways as it doesn’t provide a suitable surface for horse riders
- The surrounding habitat – areas where the wildlife is more sensitive may be impacted more by a poor-quality path, for example a very waterlogged path causing people to stray off the path could damage the surrounding habitat
One area on the Eastern Moors undergoing track repair at the moment is the public bridleway on Ramsley Moor. Here bigger stone, sandstone chunks roughly 4cm long, are being laid as a base which is permiable to water and allows rainwater to flow without being eroded. On top of this much more finely sandstone dust is laid to solidify the surface and make it more suitable for all travellers - mountain bikers, horse riders and walkers.
The Muck In volunteers resurfaced this section of concessionary bridleway leading up to Froggatt Edge, using finely ground sandstone to give the surgace a solid finish suitable for all users
So when life returns to normal and you return to walking or riding on the Eastern Moors, take a moment to look down at the path you’re travelling on and consider that hard work of the Eastern Moors team, as well as those before, that has gone in to making your day out possible.