Author Topic: Too many official footpaths?  (Read 727 times)

Ridge

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Too many official footpaths?
« on: 09:00:00, 17/06/20 »
A few times recently I've looked at maps of areas where there are so many paths with diamonds on them that you just can not tell which is which. If the idea of the diamonds is so you can follow major walking routes then their proliferation is leading to them failing. Near me there is the Hertfordshire Chain Walk marked on all OS maps and yet it is so unpopular that there is no longer a published guide to it. As far as I can tell the only time it was printed was 1987.
I can understand the National Trails being separately marked but have we gone too far by including so many other routes?
What should and should not get special treatment?

Jac

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Re: Too many official footpaths?
« Reply #1 on: 09:05:11, 17/06/20 »
Interesting question to which I don't have an answer but have often thought about when trying to trace a particular 'way' on OS and found myself heading off down a different route.
So many paths, so little time

vghikers

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Re: Too many official footpaths?
« Reply #2 on: 10:08:57, 17/06/20 »
Quote
A few times recently I've looked at maps of areas where there are so many paths with diamonds on them that you just can not tell which is which.

Tell me about it!.
Every iteration of the 1:25000 dataset seems to produce a new diamond-marked trail somewhere. In the worst cases with several in a smallish area, I have to zoom out to find two occurrences of the printed name and interpolate between them to work out the route lines, placing map markers to help. It's rare for a trail to be removed, at least in the areas I've looked at, I know of only one case.

I think many of these lesser trails are either individuals/small groups trying to get their 15 minutes of fame, or local authority attempts to jump on the commercial bandwagon to attract footfall. Either way I think there are too many from the lower divisions cluttering up the view.

From the standpoint of desktop digital mapping, ideally I would like the OS layered datasets for outdoor leisure. This would enable me to show or hide any individual layer and I could hide most of the clutter. It will never happen of course.

Ridge

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Re: Too many official footpaths?
« Reply #3 on: 10:34:50, 17/06/20 »
You articulated that much better than I did VG. Perhaps I'll contact OS about how to get a route removed.

barewirewalker

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Re: Too many official footpaths?
« Reply #4 on: 10:40:46, 17/06/20 »
I agree, also think that this proliferation is dangerous because once a route is on the map the rank and file of walkers think that it is the all singing, all dancing route for all occasions.
For instance the the Macmillan C2C routes are a prime example, where the chosen route, which makes do with sections of other official paths rather than choosing a really unique route from the the East coast to the Welsh coast. Had the authors looked at the map in more detail, lesser used footpaths may have been upgraded by the county councils en route and this would have brought substantial lengths of lost way into civic scrutiny. As these routes are motivated to raise charity money, a lever to persuade landowners to open up lines of connection has been lost. The totally useless DEFRA initiative to create permissive ways that mostly got short circular routes, that have by and large disappeared with their grant money missed the mark.

My own county county of Shropshire does not have a decent cross county walks in keeping with the terrain it has to offer, the largest inland county blocks the way to the Welsh coast from the heart of the Midlands, yet anyone trying to get across hops from one set of diamonds to another without realising that there are some better ways with little used infrastructure that is crying out for more connectivity.


Probably at the loss of 500 miles of valuable way.

BWW
Their Land is in Our Country.

WhitstableDave

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Re: Too many official footpaths?
« Reply #5 on: 14:14:44, 17/06/20 »
I live in Kent and this isn't an issue that's ever occurred to me. We have about a dozen or so 'diamond' paths, including the North Downs Way national trail, and I've walked all or most of them without any confusion.  :)

When plotting a route, my only expectation is that a diamond trail won't be impassable, and usually they're reasonably clear.

BuzyG

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Re: Too many official footpaths?
« Reply #6 on: 14:30:42, 17/06/20 »
This is not a specific problem I have come across.  I like the idea of layering routes on the OS App site though.  It works well on a number of other online mapping sites. I'm surprised they have not included it yet. 


Perhaps tradition is starting to get in the way with the very popular 1:50 and 1:25k series maps.  They won there popularity by being the best and most clear maps available for the UK.  Many others would kill for the rights to copy the format.  But as time goes on it is becoming cluttered, with shall I call it tourist junk. Sweeping generalization I admit, but I'm sure you get my drift.

Andies

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Re: Too many official footpaths?
« Reply #7 on: 14:38:30, 17/06/20 »
I agree with all that the first few posts have said. Sometimes there are also variants of a route for different user groups with slightly different names, such as here in Suffolk with the Icknield Way, Icknield Way Path and Icknield Way Tail. Other named routes also then often share part of a route which adds to the muddle.
Whilst I expect the Icknield Way attracts users I do wonder how much is made of routes such as the Angles Way, St Edmunds Way, Lark Valley Path, to name just a few nearby.  I suspect most use thereof is really just local users rather than those interested in the trail as such.

The totally useless DEFRA initiative to create permissive ways that mostly got short circular routes, that have by and large disappeared with their grant money missed the mark.

I came across a number of these  back in the day, but as you say they disappeared PDQ at the end of the ten year grant. I recall one landowner (on the LAF as it happened) had signs up as soon as the grant period ended telling folks not to use the permissive routes anymore. I think people continued in one place so he even opened up a previously covered ditch to prevent use. The same landowner also successfully upgraded many existing public footpaths to permissive bridleways, in so doing I expect getting a tasty grant. That said the only people I ever saw riding on them were his family ::)
« Last Edit: 14:43:44, 17/06/20 by Andies »

GinAndPlatonic

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Too many official footpaths?
« Reply #8 on: 15:11:40, 17/06/20 »
Totally agree & from my experience when plotting a route for the first time in an area , my eyes always focus in on these named paths and I too , end up confused as to what the name or names of said paths actually are .

I have learned they are easy to help when plotting a circular route on an opened paper map , as they stand out more  , but not necessarily any better in terms of stiles or signs on the ground when walking . It seems they are not necessarily any better maintained than other pathways .


ninthace

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Re: Too many official footpaths?
« Reply #9 on: 16:31:06, 17/06/20 »
Totally agree & from my experience when plotting a route for the first time in an area , my eyes always focus in on these named paths and I too , end up confused as to what the name or names of said paths actually are .

I have learned they are easy to help when plotting a circular route on an opened paper map , as they stand out more  , but not necessarily any better in terms of stiles or signs on the ground when walking . It seems they are not necessarily any better maintained than other pathways .
That is the point I was going to make.  Introducing these named paths raises expectations that are not met on the ground.  Who comes up with them anyway?
Solvitur Ambulando

barewirewalker

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Re: Too many official footpaths?
« Reply #10 on: 17:36:04, 17/06/20 »
That is the point I was going to make.  Introducing these named paths raises expectations that are not met on the ground.  Who comes up with them anyway?

The underlying reason is the lack of study and recognition that the access network is an important national resource. The original national ways were cobbled together by committee, they had, I am told, powers to create new routes but most if not all authorities, played safe and used existing RoW. This carried on as county councils played the political game, not wanting to go head on with landowners.

For instance, some bishop thought it would be a good idea to make walk following Henry V pilgrimage from Shrewsbury to Holywell, the council wasted time on planning it before giving it up, yet there was something that they might have noticed if the exercised was based on good design. There is a private suspension bridge over the River Dee in a very picturesque location, this would be right on course. The bridge a near beautiful replica of the Menai Bridge was, perhaps still is in a very bad state of repair. At the time there was EEC money and Lotto funds sloshing around, ripe for investment in such a project. But the course of the route would take too much marketing to get any interest and keep it going.

The real route would be; join the Monsal trail across north Shropshire through Whitchurch to the cross Denbighshire, but no-one knows the terrain well enough  to imagine how great such a route could be. Most of the interesting ground is below eye level, of those who think the terrain is made up of what they can see from their cars.

Ironically the Cheshire council are trying to add about half a mile of lost way to the end of one of their paths which could just be the beginning of this way, but I don't think anyone has walked over the border into Shropshire to see the ground that could offer the extension. It is a fascinating defile leading into the estate of the Chairman of the Shropshire county council, who probably played the biggest part in corrupting the definitive map of Shropshire.
BWW
Their Land is in Our Country.

barewirewalker

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Re: Too many official footpaths?
« Reply #11 on: 11:51:41, 19/06/20 »
From the standpoint of desktop digital mapping, ideally I would like the OS layered datasets for outdoor leisure. This would enable me to show or hide any individual layer and I could hide most of the clutter. It will never happen of course.
Understanding the value of layered mapping is surely at the heart of this problem. With digital mapping probably being the future, with the paper map option being in the hands of the user with a printer, it would be necessary for the originators of these routes to promote and market them, so that the popular ones could be downloaded and layered onto the users map for a specific purpose.
This would necessitate identifying the properties of the route, that is something sadly missing in the craft of walking, which has not moved on from the meaningless mindset of the walk guide book.

I once suggested that field gates should be included in OS maps, rather speculate on the value of this the only reaction I got from that forum was 'it will never happen', is this a flaw in how we discuss our interest. The OS is now governed by commercial principles, it needs to sell it's product, (capitalism do I hear an outraged cry) but the fulcrum on which change could turn.
Quote
author=vghikers]I think many of these lesser trails are either individuals/small groups trying to get their 15 minutes of fame, or local authority attempts to jump on the commercial bandwagon to attract footfall. Either way I think there are too many from the lower divisions cluttering up the view.
And not enough attention on routes that could be.
Climbing broke out of a stale prewar mindset in the 1950's, led by guide books that published the cutting edge of developing skills, mapping is the cutting edge of the walking boom, yet too many frown on the idea of challenging the boundaries we are set by a privileged minority and misplaced sense of respect.
BWW
Their Land is in Our Country.