Would you like to help to look after our footpaths? I mean specifically, the footpaths which East Cheshire Ramblers’ forty or so Footpath Inspectors check and report to our database on unsatisfactory conditions. In summer 2013 East Cheshire Ramblers Footpaths Projects Team was formed and that September commenced tasks of maintenance of our footpaths, and we have already carried out significant improvements on twelve footpaths. Our tasks are varied and have, so far, consisted of:
- Heavy vegetation clearance, such as tree branch removals, sapling removals, holly, hawthorn and similar shrub major cut-backs and removals. Grubbing out the roots suckers and runners of bramble and holly complexes. (Strimming excess grasses, nettles, and brackens is left to CEC PROW’s strimming contractor after the path is freed of the former obstructions)
- Finger post and waymarker post placements.
- Stile and steps refurbishments.
- Gates installed.
- Major drainage installed.
- Minor re-surfacing.
Our range of work is widening.
Our team of men and women elect to attend in the scheduled dates when they can. We currently have nineteen active members who contribute some days to our work. A day’s project usually has a variety of tasks, and team members each carry out the tasks they feel they are capable of contributing to, and ‘have a go’ at new skills as they help others with tasks. Most of us are at retirement age and older, and are limited in what we may do by ailments, and perhaps, our body strength and fitness. The tools we can use includes hand pruners, longer geared branch loppers, small and longer saws, hammers, spades and shovels, post-hole diggers, mattocks etc. We have several of each of the most-used tools. Some team members bring their own tools of choice.
We wear old clothes, strong walking boots and durable gardening gloves. We come prepared for some showers, bring picnic lunches, have coffee and lunch breaks, and appreciate the scenery – especially when we need a breather.
I look after the Projects Team’s range of equipment. Thus, I have spare leather gauntlets for sharper shrub-work, protective lightweight and comfortable safety glasses and helmets where needed for overhead work etc. We carry a comprehensive first aid kit to the working area – unused so far.
The Ramblers Central Office have a record of ECR FP Projects Team members. This is required because each member is thereby insured against Civil Liabilities and for Personal Accident claims. I maintain this record with Central Office. As a Team Member, we should have a Letter of Authority issued by Cheshire East Council PROW unit to carry out the tasks on CEC’s public footpaths. (Our footpath inspectors each should have such a letter already). I can assist in your application to CEC PROW.
I prepare a diary of works, and send group-emails to our team members stating where and what time we are meeting (description and OS Map reference) and what tasks we hope to complete. We meet at 9.30 am and finish about 1.00 ~ 4.30pm (dependant on tasks), but members occasionally finish early. We have lunch and coffee breaks.
I shall try to set dates well in advance so that members can plan their diaries and offer attendance dates. There is flexibility since we are all volunteers who have commitments arising unexpectedly. We have cancelled, because of inclement weather, only once, so far. Everyone seems to enjoy the company, conversations, banter, tiring work, and satisfaction at what the team has completed that day.
Please come and join us. If our team expands, we can cope with a range of tasks with less reliance upon each one of us. If you come to help, even for one trial day, I shall need to add you to our Project Team list registered at The Ramblers Central Office for insurance cover (outlined above).
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or ring me on 01625 520 486 if you would like to ask for more details and to join us, – even for just a trial day.
ECR Footpaths Projects Team Coordinator.