Slow map: Mapping Britain’s intercity footpaths

This is a fascinating piece of work (see link below) trying to recreate walking routes which have all but been forgotten

www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-54562137

Unless you’re someone who owns Ordnance Survey maps, which detail every public right of way/public footpath, and you know how to read them then even your local footpaths may be all but unknown to you.

I love studying maps, particularly OS maps, and I usually buy one for any place/area we are visiting around the country. My interest will often be to identify safe cycling routes but I used to do a lot of walking before taking up cycling and these maps provide loads of useful information both activities. So what’s the problem, why do such routes need to be redefined?

The problem is that often whilst the vast majority of public footpaths are marked on the ground by finger pointing signs, not all are. Additionally some that are marked don’t make clear where they go to – look at this example:-

In fact this sign is at the end of Millbank Lane on the Maghull/Aughton Sefton/West Lancs boundary and its pointing to a path which leads to Butchers Lane in Aughton but when you walk the shortish distance along the path there are no further signs pointing the best way to anywhere at all.

Now here’s an example which both makes clear where the paths go and how far the destinations are:-

Walking and cycling destinations from within Rimrose Valley Country Park.

Local Borough and District Councils are responsible for public rights of way and some are better at it than others in defining and maintaining them as I’ve found after many years of walking all over the north of England. But what in my view is almost never made clear along these routes/paths is what is the best way from A to B be it Maghull to Town Green or anywhere else. This is probably because the knowledge about footpaths and walking routes was at one time well known in all communities and this information was shared generation to generation as walking to work, shop and school etc. was pretty much the only way to get there. Now in the world where most of us go virtually anywhere in a tin box on wheels the use of these routes has declined and the knowledge about them is in few hands.

I like this project as if it’s successful it will have so many benefits to the environment and indeed our individual health if we regularly walk and cycle short to medium length journeys (subject to us being physically able to of course) instead of jumping into the Audi on the drive. But like the need to make many thousands of miles of safe cycling routes across the country this walking plan will need significant investment in mapping, signage and maintenance and for a society that has only thrown crumbs from the table of motoring towards such things for generations it will be a huge change in transportation policy which politicians will fear to implement because of the all-powerful motorist lobby.

Aughton – Beware the presently closed footpaths

Folk walking around Aughton enjoying the local footpath network need to be aware that a number of public footpaths in Aughton Civil Parish are presently closed due to major works that are being undertaken there by United Utilities contractors who are laying a new pipeline.

This is a long ongoing project affecting a huge area. Here’s an example of a notice from Lancashire County Council about part of the closed footpath network:-

The notice was at the beginning of a footpath in Brookfield Lane, Aughton which goes across the fields, over the the Liverpool – Ormskirk railway line (via Bowkers Green Pedestrian Level Crossing)and on to Mickering Lane.

Sefton Rights of Way – Any issues out there?

For my sins (can an atheist sin?) I am a member of this Group which meets on a 3 monthly basis to discuss and highlight issues with the Borough’s public footpath and bridleway network.

Footpath of Bridges Lane in Sefton Village

I represent both Maghull Town and Lydiate Parish Councils on the Group and am happy to take up issues with public rights of way in the two civil parishes and beyond. So if you have any comments to make please get in touch with me.

And whilst on the subject of walking I am presently reading a book by Stuart Maconie called ‘The Pie at Night’ – its all about what those of us Oop North do for fun! I was struck by some comments about the Ramblers Association now re-branded Ramblers. What I did not know was that it grew out of the Communist British Workers Sport Federation. Can I hear any Conservative members of Ramblers laughing at that surprising bit of history?

Ramblers – A meeting to chat about Sefton’s Local Plan and its effect on public footpaths

Had a good meeting this morning with a representative of the Ramblers Assn. The meeting was to talk through any negative implications on the Maghull and district footpath network of Sefton Council’s decision to build on areas of Green Belt.

The conclusion we came to was that the huge ‘New Town’ site to the east of Maghull will throw up the biggest challenge as a public footpath crosses it which is clearly an historic track. I say historic as it is named on the Ordnance Survey Map as ‘Moss Nook Lane’. The path runs from School Lane to the M58 Motorway and over it to Moss Nook Farm. A second path skirts this development site running alongside the M58 Motorway starting in Poverty Lane and joining Moss Nook Lane by the Motorway.

The large red area is the 'New Town' site to the east of Maghull.

The large red area is the ‘New Town’ site to the east of Maghull.

Public footpaths are important and many have been saved by the campaigning of the Ramblers Assn and others over the years. Clearly our local Ramblers have an eye to keep up such campaigning and I for one will be with them in their efforts.

So sad that we had to have this discussion at all though as the site should not be developed under any circumstances in my book due to it being high grade agricultural land and Green Belt. But despite climate change and supposedly everyone now wanting to put the environment first the economy trumps such concerns every time it seems. Subsequent generations will learn to hate us I fear for what we doing now to land on which they could have grown their food.