Do We Need All These Pavements?
I have just seen a photo on your site of Higger Tor, in Derbyshire (right), with a carefully-laid path with shallow steps leading up to it.
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 to 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).
“I'm not quite sure I agree with Lesley - while in theory, encouraging people to walk on the hills sounds good, I am more in agreement with Il Vagabonde Scozzese - that "Paved paths only serve to encourage the inexperienced to venture beyound their capabilities". And another thing - when the path in question is from Edale rocks to the start of Jacob's Ladder, how is the theoretical wheelchair user expected to get to it in the first place?? I think some judgement and balance is called for - for heaven's sake, let's keep our hills PC-free.”
Peter Royle, Uckfield
“Paving is sometimes appropriate and sometimes not. For those of us who don't want paved walks there are always other options. As I see it the paved paths have two big advantages: 1. They provide easy access for those who are less experienced or less fit and therefore less able to get into the hills. This may encourage them to venture further and become experienced walkers of unpaved paths too. Without this easy introduction many people may never get far away from their car or other transport. 2. They provide easy access for those who are less experienced...etc. And therefore funnel the bulk of visitors away from the unpaved areas which those of us who like the less manmade path can enjoy in rather more peace and solitude.”
Lesley Jones, Cardiff
“The continuing paving of our remaining wilderness spaces (in the name of 'access', 'erosion control' and 'safety') is, in itself, destroying the very thing we are trying to protect.
I for one, have no desire to traipse for miles along man-made mountain highways, which are far less 'natural' than natural erosion, contribute significantly to the herding instinct prevalent on our mountains and are far from safe (usually a slippy, bone-jarring experience).”
Gillian Pye, Wigan
“Hi, I think the idea of paving terrestrial walkways is expensive and somewhat ludicrous as well as unsightly. There are plenty of walks without a paved surface and people seem to get along quite fine. It smacks of tourism and the next step surely are escalators up the mountain sides. But of course, they're already doing this are they not? Ceorl”
Charles Russell, London
“As a regular walker I often see quite wide worn paths alongside the paved ones. I'm sure the reason is that it's often uncomfortable to walk on those rock pavements which can sometimes have missing slabs or rocking ones - OK not then end of the world but you become less sure of the surface you're walking on.
I understand the need to reduce erosion but it just seems to have gone into overdrive these days.”
Ian Wallis, Nottingham
“Hi, I love to take out my son who is wheel chair bound. I think when the walks are mostly on the flat its great to have access to the countryside.
I think you are being anti-access with no logical reason. The other thing is that by paving the walks they are assessable all year round & I love to walk in the winter, when some of the walks would have been a total nightmare before
Where possible walks should be accessible to all, not to just us that are lucky to be able bodied.”
Harriet Blake, Manchester
“Sadly the way the world is going then man made laid footpaths are the only way to protect the land from serious erosion. The footpath erosion on Kinder scout has been blamed for the increase in the peat erosion.
Also if you were to look at Dovedale and the number of visitors that it gets you can complain till the cows come home about the tarmac'd section of path but it is crucial in maintaining the area for others.”
Graeme Turner, Chesterfield
“On one hand arguing against a tamed path smacks of elitism, and on the other it might sound like a good way for preserving against erosion and a good way of stopping people getting lost.
I've just finished an inadvertent walk, where I went to Brighton to get my hair cut, realised I had 4 hours to kill before Moon was showing at the cinema and so I jumped on the bus to Devils Dyke. After a quick go on the quiz machine, I walked to Upper Beeding via some chalky paths, some grassy/muddy paths and some tarmac. (I have to say [I was] having to walk on the tarmac to avoid 8 wide ignoramus parties of people).
I did the walk far too quickly and only realised this when I got to the Rising Sun at Upper Beeding and stood at the bar sweating and panting profusely.
Knowing that the route was semi-sissy I hadn't worried about walking 4 miles in jeans and non-grippy shoes - this is a bad thing if you consider that I could have turned an ankle easily and not been properly prepared.
So after consideration, I say, semi-harden some pathways, but never make them "permanent".
Ian Gough, Sussex
The views expressed by contributors to this discussion are not necessarily those held by go4awalk.com.