Do we need all these paved footpaths in the mountains, hills and countryside?

February 2009

Do we need all these paved footpaths in the mountains, hills and countryside?
Higger Tor, The Peak District, Derbyshire
Photo: Ian Windle

I have just seen a photo on go4awalk of Higger Tor in The Peak District, Derbyshire, with a carefully-laid path with shallow steps leading up to it (right).

This area, as I recall, is not especially boggy, nor steep, nor dangerous in any way.

Seriously eroded? It wasn't, last time I was there.

On Kinder in October, I was amazed to see how much of the route around the southern edge, from the top of Grindsbrook to Edale Rocks, is now huge blocks of stone or a level, gritty pathway.

And the route down from near Edale Rocks to the head of Jacob's ladder is more or less a pavement. I'm not sure it isn't tarmac'd!

Is all this really necessary? How many of our 'wild places' are we going to see 'civilised'? Indeed, is ANY of it necessary, except where erosion is proving dangerous, seriously unsightly, or in danger of spreading out of control?

What is the cut-off point at which we stop making our hills 'accessible'? Are we going to end up having cater for wheelchairs, people with a limp, or just tired legs, on every little hill and fell?

And I'm not being anti-disability; I myself have Multiple Sclerosis (albeit mildly at the moment, but it is not impossible that one day I will be in a wheelchair - and I think I will still feel the same way).

Peter Royle, Uckfield


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