THE WORK OF THE EAST CHESHIRE RAMBLERS FOOTPATHS COMMITTEE

East Cheshire Ramblers ensure their footpaths are in good orderThe East Cheshire Group of the Ramblers is active in checking and inspecting the network of Public Rights of Way which exist across the splendid countryside in East Cheshire. There is a legal duty on the highway authority and on landowners to ensure that public footpaths are maintained in a walkable condition.

If you find a path in East Cheshire that is obstructed or want to report a fault to the Council go to the public rights of way page of the Cheshire East council web site – https://www.cheshireeast.gov.uk/leisure,_culture_and_tourism/public_rights_of_way/public_rights_of_way.aspx – where you will find a link to an online problem report form.

If, after submitting this form, you do not get a satisfactory response, please report the problem to us using the link at the end of this article and we will follow it up.

East Cheshire Ramblers cover an area of 33 parishes from Poynton in the north to Wincle in the south and, east to west, from Chelford to Rainow.  There are over 1270 paths which criss-cross the area and every path is surveyed annually by our volunteer inspectors. By far the majority of paths  are in good order, thanks to the co-operation of the landowners and the tireless work of Cheshire East Council Public Rights of Way (PROW) Unit.  Sometimes a path can be obstructed by a fallen tree, a newly erected fence or sometimes a stile or gate is damaged. Our inspectors report these faults to the PROW Unit who ensure the fault is rectified promptly.  Some inspectors also fix yellow waymarking signs to ensure walkers can keep to the correct line of the path. To cover such a large area, over 40 of our members are inspectors and we are always on the lookout for more volunteers.

In addition, we have a group of volunteers who undertake more practical tasks such as cutting back vegetation, repairing stiles and improving the path surfaces.

How is all this co-ordinated? Well, since 1986 East Cheshire Ramblers have organised a Footpaths Committee who meet regularly to discuss the latest problems and the progress with the annual path inspections. At this forum proposals for the legal diversion of the rights of way are debated and comments made to Cheshire East Council. We look after the interests of all walkers and we will not agree to any proposal that significantly reduces the enjoyment of the path.  If necessary, but rarely, we will make a formal objection and argue our case at a Public Inquiry. In such cases we are able to draw on the legal expertise of the Ramblers Central Office in London. If you enjoy walking, please join the Ramblers organisation and help to support this vital work.

Here are some photographs to illustrate the group’s work


The footpath goes under the bridge. This obstruction was reported by our footpaths inspector and Cheshire East Council ensured it was removed.

The footpath goes under the bridge. This obstruction was reported by our footpaths inspector and Cheshire East Council ensured it was removed.
A memorial bench was installed some years ago by the East Cheshire Ramblers Group on the Ladybrook Valley Interest Trail in Poynton. Rest a While!

A memorial bench was installed some years ago by the East Cheshire Ramblers Group on the Ladybrook Valley Interest Trail in Poynton. Rest a While!
The path has been eroded by the stream over a number of years. A temporary diversion of the footpath has been implemented.

The path has been eroded by the stream over a number of years. A temporary diversion of the footpath has been implemented.
A fallen tree is blocking the footpath beyond the kissing gate. It is the responsibility of the landowner to remove the obstruction, but if they do not act then Cheshire East Council can remove the obstruction and charge the cost to the landowner.

A fallen tree is blocking the footpath beyond the kissing gate. It is the responsibility of the landowner to remove the obstruction, but if they do not act then Cheshire East Council can remove the obstruction and charge the cost to the landowner.
This has now been replaced by a kissing gate.

This has now been replaced by a kissing gate.
Our footpaths inspector reported this problem and it was dealt with promptly by Cheshire East Council.

Our footpaths inspector reported this problem and it was dealt with promptly by Cheshire East Council.

Here are some links which will be useful to obtain further information on footpaths and rambling in our area

Neil Collie


Reconstruction of Footpath 22 at Bollington by ECR Volunteers

Before we started

Before we started

After we finished

After we finished

Sometime before October 2015 Evan Pedley of PROW, Crewe, asked me if our project team would repair a flight of wooden steps on Bollington FP22, which climbs from Ingersley Road up to Shrigley Rise. This seemed feasible at the time, because we could collect new wood for the steps as a contribution by PROW Department from its depot at Winsford; and Bollington Town Council would contribute up to £500 (plus VAT) towards materials.

The path climbed over fourteen metres in height over a length of 69 metres from its start in the field below a bottom kissing gate. The path was a surface drain for regular rain run-off from the impermeable surfacing of Shrigley Fold, and even off the main Shrigley Road in heavy rains, at the top of the path. It formed a deep gulch (a word chosen conservatively) and walkers were required to straddle the hollow and walk the haunches when the surface was wet and slippery. It held twenty-four rotting wooden steps.

Evan requested that precast concrete (p.c.) highway kerbs are deployed to resist the waters and to provide more durability than wood on this frequently used urban path. The prospect of me asking a voluntary project team of predominantly senior citizens who, with respect, are past their prime, to manoeuvre 70+ kg kerbs for 60 metres along the path, and up to 14 metres down the steps, was daunting. So, despite spending time on several occasions surveying the existing eroded wooden steps with my family’s help, I deferred the work to a future suitable period. Gradually, a sense of obligation took control and triggered me to allocate June through August this year, pending team support, to ‘fit’ the steps into the diary.

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Ken in an overgrown section of the path before work started

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Rainwater run off had undermined the path

Shrigley Rise neighbours have been very accepting of our disruption, allowing me to park as many as four bulk bags of gravel and two pallets of kerbstones on their private driveways on several deliveries, and special thanks go to Siobhan and Max for allowing us to store large tools and two wheelbarrows in their rear garden, Sarah for passing Ice cold drinks through the hedge and Rob for his oil for the wheelbarrows! Additionally, the team was given enthusiastic encouragement by path users.

To create a safe and durable working/walking space, we started by clearing vegetation, predominantly of naturally established, but badly located, trees and branches. We next repaired two wooden steps and added a third step in the field approach from Ingersley Road, below a bottom kissing gate. Higher up, two existing p.c. highway kerb steps were relocated, and the 24 existing wood steps were replaced by 47 new p.c. bull-nosed (rounded top corner) highway kerbs. Some steps were constructed full width of the space between walls to reduce erosion. We have placed twice as many steps (52 instead of 28) and a more even gradient between step rises in our construction. There are important benefits in that both of the latter measures dissipate the energy in rainwater flows down the path and steps and minimise erosion; and the threshold of difficulty for locals in scaling the steps has been considerably reduced,

We commenced step building, by progressively removing old steps, excavating for the new ones, placing them to line and level, and constraining their facing lower edge by steel pins. For safe working we spread ourselves in pairs up the path, but inevitably found coordination and cooperation between the teams was essential to enable materials to be moved across each of the work fronts. As the workdays passed, the shape of the stairflights crystalised, and a bulge in the slope was reduced by excavating for, and lowering, some steps. The bulk of our fill material is 40mm sized limestone aggregate, which allows water to pass in a restrained manner, but is firmly positioned. A surface skim of 14mm limestone chips is gentle underfoot and knits the surface together.

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Ian tipping a barrow load of limestone chippings as Nick is poised to spread them out

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Mike and Alan at work. Kerbs ready to be laid on the right

Several thoughts disturbed my sleep prior to starting on site: I dreaded finding we could not drive 16mm dia. steel pins 400mm into the underlying ground, to hold the kerbs in place, due to being rebutted by solid rock here and there. Such rebuttals occurred only once or twice. I was majorly concerned about moving the 70+ kg kerb units along the path and down the steps. I purchased a two-wheeled bag trolley to park them next to their final resting place, and two proprietary lifting tongs for multiple lifting to place them on a trolley and at each temporary and final accurately allocated placement. My overall concern, of course, was whether sufficient team support members would declare themselves willing to carry out this very heavy labour. But, as always, a team performed on each day.

We completed the project on 9th August. On which occasion two walking groups of eight and twelve persons coincidentally chose to pass respectively up and down the path!

Between two and six team members have attended on seventeen occasions between 26th June and 9th August, (generating 62 volunteer-attendance days) and served 296 man-hours of labour (excluding lunch breaks). During this project, 13.5 tonnes of limestone have been shovelled, and accepting that each pc concrete kerbstone has been lifted and transported twice, 8 tonnes of pc concrete has been lifted and placed. Also, a large amount of soil has been dug, moved and reprofiled during the scheme.

ECR Group have purchased £1792 (Vat Incl.) of materials, and Bollington Town Council have contributed £558 (Vat incl.) of that total.

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The bottom end of the path as completed

For the success of this project, my thanks go to Janet Allen, David Bates, Helen Battilana, Ian Black, Nick Brearley, Mike Collins, Roger Fielding, Adrian Flinn, Barbara Hare, Ken Hobbs, Philip Hodgkinson, David James, Roger Jubb, Gillian and Tom North, Ian Wasson, Nick Wild, Alan Wilson, my wife Helen and son Damian (as surveying assistants).

Brian Richardson

Some of the team

Some of the team – Adrian, Mike, Ken and Roger

ECR 2015 Footpath Survey Results

This is a summary report on the footpaths with the ECR area.
The basis of the report is from the inspections made by our Footpath Inspector’s, using the footpath status A to D.

There are two themes to the report;

Firstly an overview of footpath status from 2009 to 2015 indicating 89.4% of footpaths in the 2015 survey were classified A and B which is Good/Acceptable. This is consistent with previous years.

Secondly, the number of paths in the Class D (Obstructed), through the years of 2012 to 2015, with the objective of showing those paths that continue in Class D.

Footpath Committee

DB Summary of 2015 Results