A definition of Access – “A way of Opportunity”…for All.
Words and phrases keep popping up that have as yet not been totally addressed in the UK. Such as ….many people; more integrated; more equal; of all means and abilities.
Are our public paths, rights of way, worth keeping, are they unique ?
First step is not to divert or erect a kissing gate; first step is to change public/ Government attitudes.
Concentrate on those that benefit the majority of the community.
More familiar places should be those with the more accessible paths.
What is the point of amassing huge legal costs for a path that gives “nothing” back?…except its view…..for a few.
So don’t start with a 12th century coffin trail that can’t be arrived at by car, or public transport. The walking elite community have plenty to go at without adding to a network just because it served a previous purpose.
Do we market them sufficiently to the open community?
Have local Ambassadors in all sectors of the community, informing residents and visitors of current circumstances.
Give information “every-which-way”. From Digital to Braille and Pictograms ; O/S maps to tactile formats.
A Mountain to Climb
You don’t have to “flatten Snowdon “ for us all to walk over.
Many, find a country park is as reviving/exciting as a day in a wood. For many, a local park will be their Big Country. This is their mountain to climb. Taking a walk is not second nature to us all, not even in a park, never mind the Great Outdoors. So prioritise; where’s the greatest community advantage?
What use is our footpath network? Will communities die if they are lost?
Themes come and go; Paths in the right locations that serve all will remain and be cared for.
Caring for our Paths
Sponsorship by – Dog feed manufacturers: Out door gear manufacturers: Mobility scooter manufacturers…etc.
Use volunteers of all abilities in social clubs or school groups.
Even if not already, Community service.
Voluntary policing and reporting procedure for all.
Walkers, horses, cyclists, motorbikes, four wheeled drive, Mobility scooters, Wheelchair users, pram pushers, disabled people(physical, sensory or intellectually), children, ethnic groups all bring an affect on the land.
Recognise that many places are peoples work place where they earn their living. They are custodians of our countryside.
Observe seasonal use for growing crops, breeding wild life, inclement weather, bad ground conditions.
Work via consultation with the abundant network of groups representing minority/specialist groups.
Get it right by getting all involved in consulting, planning doing. Arrange appropriate times for events suited to everyone’s life styles. Pay expenses for their expertise.
Draw up Codes of practice for all users involved in any responsible outdoor recreation.
Close control means all things to all walkers. Have one rule; on a lead or not.
Identify “spend” areas as Assistance dogs.
Have activity trails, with natural obstacles to teach control.
Allow dogs in general, not only assistance dogs into visitor information areas.(Assistance dogs only in food areas).
Hold on site Doggy events.
Give tidal information, seasonal variations in currents, algae, insects, depths. Warning sirens and life jackets on sites.
Regularly inspected equipment and craft.
Zoned areas for dogs on beaches, linked by access paths.
Author: Colin Antis