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.

Lydiate – More on that strange public footpath issue at Sandy Lane Park

Footpath sign at Sandy Ln – There’s a similar one off Moss Ln

I’ve blogged a couple of times recently about Lydiate Footpath No.14 which links Sandy Lane to Moss Lane.

To recap, its become an issue following Lydiate Parish Council creating a fenced dog-run area a few weeks back which means that footpath users effectively have to walk through the dog-run.

Dog run area seen looking towards Sandy Ln. The public right of way is somewhere to the left where the corner fence post is

Attempts to define exactly where the public footpath is have come to nought (so far) as it’s not detailed on the deeds for Sandy Lane Park. This could mean that the path is actually on the neighbouring framer’s field and this angle is now being checked out by Sefton Council’s Footpath’s Officer who regulates public rights of way in the Borough.

Another strand to this odd story is that if the definitive route has not been recorded on any land deeds (which logically it should have been) then the back-stop is using a piece of law which allows Sefton Council to define the right of way route based on what has been used by the public for a 20 year period. It won’t take long for those familiar with the footpath to realise that the edge of Sandy Lane Park is what has been used as the footpath for many, many years. Certainly I’ve lived in Maghull & Lydiate since 1968 and I’ve never known the route of the path to be anywhere else. Here’s a link to the appropriate law provided via the Ramblers Association:-

www.ramblers.org.uk/advice/improve-the-path-network/how-to-claim-an-unrecorded-right-of-way.aspx

A few years back, when I was a Borough Councillor for Aintree Village, I helped with a campaign to gain a public right of way from Aintree Lane (at the side of Melling Road) through to the Leeds Liverpool Canal towpath using this 20 year rule as the basis for the claim. That battle was won and I use that path regularly to gain access to the canal towpath when I’m cycling locally. Here’s a photo which includes a part of that path:-

The new public right of way is the path which turns off the towpath to the right in this photo

More news as things develop…….

The last photo is amongst my Flickr photos at:-

www.flickr.com/photos/86659476@N07/

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.

Liverpool City Region’s Rights of Way Improvement Plan – Your views wanted by Merseytravel

Footpath off Bridges Lane in Sefton Village

www.merseytravel.gov.uk/about-us/local-transport-delivery/Pages/Public-Rights-of-Way-Strategy.aspx

The link above takes you to the web site of Merseytravel and the consultation documents they would like responses to – please have a look if you like cycling or walking locally off road.

Gate and stile from Butchers Lane in Aughton to Millbank in Maghull.

I sit of the Sefton Rights of Way Group representing Lydiate and Maghull Councils so this is matter of interest to me, I am also a regular walker and cyclist.

My view is that what we need to get across to policy makers throughout the Liverpool City Region is that the development of pedestrian pathways are vital to the health and wellbeing of our communities. In short we need the following:-

* More hard surfaced paths which enable their use by cycles and those with disabilities
* Clearly way marked circular routes suitable for push chairs and wheelchairs
* Cycle routes that connect communities
* A clear programme to deliver such improvements over the life of the next ROWIP within obviously tight resources.

Please join in and let the powers that be know what you think as they work on the Next Rights of Way Improvement Plan (ROWIP) for Merseyside.

Sefton Borough – Accessible countryside routes for those with disabilities are very limited

I posted not so long ago about Sefton Council’s Rights of Way Liaison Group which I happen to sit on representing both Lydiate and Maghull Councils.

An issue raised with me recently by a Maghull resident was with regard to someone in their family having disability restrictions who finds it hard to access our local countryside.

Accessible paths like this are required by people with disabilities

There’s no doubt this is an issue and it’s one that is often compounded by the obstacles that are placed on public rights of way to try to stop abuse of them by motorbikes/quadbikes. The Leeds Liverpool Canal tow path and Cheshire Lines Path come to mind here. This is of course on top of routes often being uneven, crossing fields, stiles etc. All of these things can be overcome by those of us who are capable of walking/climbing freely but they are a barrier to those with restricted mobility.

I undertook to investigate the matter with the Sefton Council officer who leads our local Liaison Group and this is what he said in response:-

Hi Councillor

In regards to fully accessible countryside routes, unfortunately these are limited in number.

It is an action in the current Rights of Way Improvement Plan to work on improving the accessibility of the network and work in partnership with people with mobility impairments and as such efforts and improvements to accessibility are being made.

Under the Active Walks scheme there is an independent walks pack that has 24 walking routes in various locations around the borough and some of these are promoted as being accessible. The details of these routes can be found on the Sefton website via

www.sefton.gov.uk/around-sefton/walking-cycling/walking-routes-and-ideas.aspx

I think this is clearly a piece of work in progress and with severely restricted amounts of public money being around these days you would have to be quite an optimist to think that much will happen soon. However, whenever I get the opportunity I intend to bang the drum for disability access to Sefton’s countryside.

This is the front cover of the Rights of Way Improvement Plan made reference to above:-

This document, which covers all of Merseyside, runs to 98 pages and is due to be updated next year

it runs to 98 pages and is due to be updated by 2018.

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?