Footpath Maintenance and Improvements by the ECR Footpaths Project Team

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 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.

Brian Richardson
ECR Footpaths Projects Team Coordinator.

Bollington Walking Festival 2014

The 5th Bollington Walking Festival took place in October with a record breaking 600 walkers taking part.

East Cheshire Ramblers contributed 6 walks to the Festival, ranging from 10 to 19 miles. On the first weekend Steve Hull led a 14 mile walk to Teggs Nose, Nessit Hill, Forest Chapel and back via Rainow. The following day Chris Brear’s 10 mile walk took walkers up the Harrop Valley to the new permissive path where Brian Griffiths explained how the Ramblers had developed the path and we admired the work of the footpath team in improving a notorious muddy section. We continued via Jenkin Chapel and back to Bollington. On the Tuesday our luck ran out with the weather. 13 hardy souls turned out for David Gylee’s ‘Trail to the Chapel and Back’ in strong wind and driving rain. By the Thursday the weather had improved again and 28 people to enjoyed Sandra Edwards’ 11 mile walk taking in Macclesfield Forest and the reservoirs. Ken Edwards’ led his long walk on the final Saturday, 19 miles and 4000 ft of ascent to Eccles Pike and back. 26 people completed the walk, ending with a welcome pint in the Vale. Some of them were out again the following day to join the 29 walkers on Mike Bull’s route to Teggs Nose and back. We were delighted to welcome walkers from other parts of the country as far afield as Sussex and Wiltshire who spent a few days in Bollington. A number of local walkers expressed an interest in becoming members of ECR, at least two have already joined and we hope to see them again soon.

BWF Brian Griffiths explains work done by ECR to develop new permissive pathThe Bridgend Centre acted as a hub for the week and provided the ‘Walkers Cafe’ where welcome refreshments and home made cakes were served to hungry walkers. A welcome innovation for this year was the inclusion of 3 walks led by Marple Ramblers. Other highlights during the Festival included an early morning wildlife spotting walk, a stargazing night walk led by a local astronomer, an evening celebrating the Kinder Trespass, orienteering and geocaching walks. New for this year, the Ghost Walk was enjoyed by 67 people young and old. The Bollington Belles sang beautifully eerily and a ghostly apparition was seen at an upstairs window. They returned to the Bridgend Centre for a warm welcome with hot dogs and hot chocolate provided by Walkers are Welcome.

The Walking Festival organisers would like to thank all the walk leaders and back markers for their help during the Festival. We appreciate the work involved in developing new routes and being prepared to lead larger than usual groups. Planning for 2015 has already started. Offers of help to lead a walk or help with the organisation of the festival would be very welcome. We are a friendly group who meet every few weeks between February and August to put the programme together and plan publicity. Please contact Chris Brear, if you are interested.

Chris Brear