Northamptonshire boasts almost 2,000 miles of footpaths, bridleways and byways, a hugely valuable amenity for all, whether they live in town or country. Quite apart from the opportunity for exercise these rights of way offer, there is increasing evidence of the mental health benefit to be had from a stroll or bike-ride in the countryside. We cannot take rights of way for granted – they need to be protected, improved and maintained.
Changes in the planning system, development located in the wrong place and unsympathetic landowners all represent potential threats to our precious network of rights of way. We ignore these threats at our peril.
Improvement is largely about making rights of way adjacent to roads and settlements accessible to more people, particularly to the not so mobile. Gates instead of stiles, better surfaces underfoot, waymarking that indicates what lies ahead. We support initiatives in all these areas.
A broken stile, poor or non-existent waymarking, a ploughed-up headland? Report them to Northamptonshire Highways at www.fixmystreet.northamptonshire.gov.uk and they will sort the problem out.
If you would like to learn more about rights of way click here for CPRE's guide Permissive to public: know your pathways
Hartwell (c) Martin Fletcher