Rambling survey records 4,500 problems on mobile app

Flooded path Image copyright Ian Dickin

More than 4,500 problems have been recorded on footpaths in Wales, in what has been called the "biggest-ever" survey of its kind.

But the Ramblers' Big Pathwatch survey also revealed Wales as being more welcoming than England.

In July 2015, the charity asked people to use a mobile phone app to record problems found on rights of way, such as blockages or fallen trees.

Surveyors recorded almost 8,000 good and bad features across the country.

Of those, 41% were positive - including helpful and informative signs and attractive views - while 59% were negative - missing signs and undergrowth or overhanging vegetation obstructing the path.

Image caption Attractive views were some of the positive comments recorded

Christine Boston, 36, is a member of the Tiger Bay Ramblers in Cardiff.

She said walkers in Wales were "spoilt for choice" when it came to scenery.

"You've got coast, countryside, the waterfalls at Ystradfellte. There's even plenty of urban walks - the Cardiff Bay circular and sometimes we walk into and around Penarth. Wales has lots of historic buildings.

"Sometimes there are paths that are overgrown though, or stiles are broken or way markers are missing.

"There was a place up near Hay-on-Wye where a bit of fencing cut off the right of way. You have to find another way around then.

"If you're leading a group you have to make sure you check the route first as often you get to a place and find there's an issue like a bull in a field."

Image copyright National Trust

Bob Chadwick has just completed a 1,050 mile walk around Wales to raise money for cancer research.

The 68-year-old walked for 95 days over a three year period and was joined by about 80 people at various stages.

He is now encouraging more people to walk the coast path, even if it is just a small section.

"Set yourself a target and go do it," he said.

"I've never been one for violent exercise or running marathons, yet I'm still slim and healthy at 68."

Mr Chadwick said he has seen some beautiful parts of Wales, and particularly enjoyed learning of its industrial heritage in places like Port Talbot.

He said Rhossili Bay in Swansea was his favourite location, describing its stretch of beach as a "die for place".

Asked if he encountered any problems, Mr Chadwick said they had a few "run-ins with bullocks" which were "very curious and insisted on inspecting them."

He added there were a few places where the coast is not available, but for the most part, they had had "exclusive access".

Image copyright Mark Treacey
Image caption Obstructed paths were among the issues raised by ramblers

November was identified as the worst month for paths, so Ramblers has called for everyone in Wales to take responsibility for their local paths by walking them and reporting any problems using the app.

Ramblers Cymru's director Angela Charlton said: "We wanted to gather a picture of the state of the path network so we could understand the full extent of the problems and start to come up with the long term solutions to help protect this key community asset.

"Although local councils are responsible for maintaining our paths, we're acutely aware that rights of way are competing against other services for a share of increasingly squeezed budgets.

"The Ramblers, as guardians of the footpath network, should be at the forefront of solving path problems, working with local authorities in Wales to maintain the network."

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