Footpath Maintenance
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Footpath Maintenance

Organiser:Bill Walshaw

Footpath Maintenance The Right To Roam
HRC Footpath Working Group Report (Article) Cattle In Fields With Public Access (Article)
Rights Of Way

The Footpath Working Party was run as an HRC enterprise thanks to Bill Walshaw's efforts. He took up the reins after the South Staffordshire group, we previously worked with, disbanded. He arranged our work, transport, tools and materials and liaised with the council and with farmers, picked up and drove the van, completed all the paperwork and led the group during the Monday labours.

During the autumn of 2006 stiles and steps were installed at Longnor, Reapsmoor, Froghall and Madeley.
In 2007 the team installed 56 complete stiles, 24 replacement stile treads, 4 sleeper bridges and finger posts.
The team recommenced work for 2008 despite the rather poor ground conditions due to the very heavy rains. We continued to work in the West of the county mainly in the Betley, Eccleshall, Madeley, Maer, Standon, Swynnerton, and Tittensor areas.

The team consisted of HRC members with two experienced volunteers from the Stafford area. The group size, on each working, day varied between 4 and 8 depending on team members' commitments and work requirements.

HRC members who have taken part so far are:
Bill Walshaw, John Butler, Mike Everill, Brian Joynson, Phil Hughes,
Ken Elkin, John Critchlow, Barrie Tunnicliffe Alan Ratcliffe and Bill Webb.

The two RA members from the disbanded South Staffs group are:

John Rhodes and Dave Cashmore.

Thanks to all above for their labours from 2006 and 2011, a definite improvement was made top the condition of the footpath network.

If you are aware of any footpath which requires attention please do report the matter either to the local authority (e.g. Staffs CC).

Earlier Photographs

HRC Footpath Working Group Report (Article)

Weather conditions at the start and finish of 2010 caused a reduction in the activity of the group. Snow in January caused an initial delay which was followed by a period of heavy rainfall resulting in water logged farmland preventing access by vehicles carrying materials to work sites. Though some work was completed it was not until dryer conditions prevailed in May allowing the commencement of the installation of 10 metal kissing gates on footpaths between Alsagers Bank and Scot Hay. The summer break commenced in June after the installation of replacement stiles and treads between Alsagers Bank and Halmerend.

Due to other commitments, the winter season did not commence until November with work in the Hilderstone area involving the installation of 2 new bridges and associated stiles and the repair of some 20 footpath steps down into a valley. The year ended with the installation of a new bridge and stiles on a footpath between Halmerend and Pheasant Hall (this path was used on a walk led by Hilary in January 2011 ). Snow again led to the early finish to work in December which has now been resumed.

During 2010 the group installed 6 stiles, 10 metal kissing gates, 3 bridges, 20 footpath steps, replaced 6 treads on existing stiles and 1 footpath signpost. Several paths were waymarked and hedges cut near existing stiles.

My thanks are due to HRC members of the working party namely: Barrie Tunnicliffe, Phil Hughes and Alan Ratcliffe who are joined by two very able RA members from the Stafford area, John Rhodes and Tony Leech. The work can be physically demanding but this splendid team always rise to any challenge with a good range of banter, innovation and hard graft.

Bill Walshaw

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Come and join in - it's all very friendly

A few of the stiles constructed


Working Party




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All worth it

Photographs of members during the Chairman's Ramble on 4 February 2007 using some of the bridges built by the HRC Working Party


Bill Walshaw and Ken Elkin showing Bill Finney their handywork.


Marion Walshaw leading Val Hiles over the mud


Kate Cooper and Margaret Finney on another marvel of construction.

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The Right To Roam

In many areas of England and Wales and on most land in Scotland you can now enjoy wider opportunities for access, where you don't have to keep to a particular route but can walk at will through a wider area of open space. When on this designated access land you can use any path, or wander off the path if the terrain is suitable. The arrangements for wider access in Britain are in the process of changing as new rules are introduced creating better protection for access rights and more opportunities for hikers. Different arrangements from England and Wales apply in Scotland, where there will be a new statutory right of access to most land.

Access land in England and Wales

New rights of access for walkers are currently being introduced to all mountain (over 600m), moor, heath, down and registered common land in England and Wales under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, (CRoW).
The exact areas of land covered by the new rights are shown on official maps issued by the Countryside Agency and the Countryside Council for Wales. In England, the new rights are being introduced region by region as the maps are published: the first regions, the south and lower northwest, opened on 19 September 2004 and all regions in England should be open by November 2005. In Wales they will be introduced for the whole country in May 2005.
On new access land, landowners can restrict or prevent access for up to 28 days a year without special permission, and can apply for additional restrictions for purposes such as land management, conservation and fire prevention. The new rights do not replace existing rights of access. For example, where a public right of way crosses access land that has been closed under the 28-day rule, walkers will still be able to use the right of way.
Most access land - including all but the smallest parcels of land open under the new rights, as well as land open under previous rights, arrangements and policies - is shown on Ordnance Survey maps as these are updated. Details of restrictions are given at information points on the ground, or available from local authorities and information centres. The official "conclusive" maps of new access land, together with much other useful information, can be viewed on the Countryside Agency's website.
As each area is approved the Secretary of State issues a commencement order stating when the new access will commence. These access areas will be shown on the Ordnance Survey maps, and are now available for the Peak District and some adjacent areas.
The above is a very brief summary of this important new development for walkers. No doubt members will be able to exercise their new 'right to roam' on future walks. Do please ensure that you have the correct information before exercising your right and observe and respect any signs and information provided in the local area of your walk.

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Cattle In Fields With Public Access (Article)

As a result of recent press reports about injury and death to walkers caused by Cattle in fields with Rights of Way some members have asked for details of what the Law is on such matters and what is seen as "Good Practise" to avoid being involved in an incident.

In the period 1990 - 1998 the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) reported 18 cases in which members of the public were attacked by cattle in fields. Of these cases almost half of these incidents were fatal. Although there are specific legislative restrictions on the keeping of bulls, these do not apply to cows and bullocks, which can also be very aggressive. Below I give details of advice given by the Ramblers on minimising the risk of attack by all types of cattle as well as summarising relevant aspects of the law.

Section 59 of the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981 bans the keeping of bulls in fields crossed by a right of way, except if they are:
+ under the age of 10 months; or
+ not of a recognised dairy breed, provided they are accompanied by cows or heifers.

"Recognised dairy breeds" are defined as the following: Ayrshire, British Frisian, British Holstein, Dairy Shorthorn, Guernsey, Jersey and Kerry.

The Ramblers offer the following suggestions for walkers concerned about their safety when encountering cattle in the countryside. It is worth emphasising that the majority of attacks occur when dogs are present or cows are acting in defence of their calves:
+ Be prepared for cattle to react, and, where possible, walk carefully and quietly around them - do not split up a clustered group.
+ If you have a dog with you, keep it under close control, but do not hang on to it should a bull or cow start acting aggressively.
+ Cattle will normally stop before reaching you. If they do not, just carry on quietly, and do not run.
+ Should a bull or cow come up very closely, turn round to face it. If necessary take a couple of steps towards it, waving your arms and shouting firmly.
+ Above all, do not put your self at risk. If you feel threatened, find another way around, returning to the original path as soon as is possible.
+ Remember to close gates behind you when walking through fields containing livestock.
+ If you are attacked or suffer a frightening incident, report this to the landowner and the highway authority, and also the HSE and Police if it is of a serious nature.

Ashley Steadman (Walks Coordinator)

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Rights Of Way

The Blue Book

The club has bought the book: Rights Of Way - A Guide to Law and Practice - Fourth Edition by John Riddall and John Trevelyn and published by the Ramblers' Association and Open Spaces Society. This is the definitive guide to rights-of-way law in England and Wales. Ashley Steadman holds the copy and will attempt to find the answer to any query you may have on the subject.

Council Obligation

The Local Councils now have an obligation to produce and implement a Rights of Way Improvement Plan and the first Joint Local Access Forum for interested parties met in December 2007.   Ashley Steadman attended this meeting as an observer on behalf of the HRC and the Planscan be viewed or downloaded. Ashley is now a committee member on the forum and has attended subsequent meetings. Anyone interested can apply for vacancies or just look at the latest news at the Staffs County Council website

The next meetings of the Staffordshire, Stoke-on-Trent and Wolverhampton Joint Local Access Forum will be held on:

Tuesday, 21 April 2009 - Business Meeting - To be hosted by the City of Stoke-on-Trent - The Hothouse, St. James House, Webberley Lane, Longton, Stoke-on-Trent, staffs. ST3 1RJ

Thursday, 2 July 2009 - Business Meeting - hosted by Staffordshire County Council - The John O'Leary Education Centre, Marquis Drive, Hednesford, Staffs. WS12 4PW

Thursday, 1 October 2009 - Business Meeting - The John O'Leary Education Centre, Marquis Drive, Hednesford, Staffs. WS12 4PW

October 2009 - Members Awayday - Date and Venue to be confirmed

Members of the public are invited to attend.

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