Seats and perches

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Seats and perches are usually installed in resting places or viewpoints. They should be at least 600mm back from the path edge to allow other path users to freely pass.

bench and perches

Some people may find getting up from a seated position more difficult so providing perches as well as seats gives people a choice according to their needs. If possible, there should be space beneath seats to allow people to place their feet below the body’s centre of gravity when standing up. This is called a ‘heel space’ and should be at least 100mm deep. Make sure the seat or perch surface has a slight slope to shed water, rather than allowing water to stand on the surface where people's feet will be.

Large logs or rocks and low walls can be used as seats although the ‘heel space’ can be difficult to incorporate. The provision of seating could give you opportunities to incorporate art or interpretation along the path.

Seats with a backrest and arms are preferable to plain benches as they provide additional support or comfort to those sitting. The arm rests can also provide leverage when standing up or support when sitting down.

The Fieldfare Trust Countryside for All Good Practice Guide (2005) recommends the following dimensions for seats and perches:

  • Seats should be 450 – 520mm above the path surface, although for children, height of 350mm is better.

  • Perches should be 500 – 750mm high. If more than one perch is to be provided install each one at differnt height above the surface. This will allow children to use at least one of them.

  • For seats with a backrest, the length of seat (and backrest) should be 2m with the height of the backrest at 700mm.

For general guidance about seats and perches and specification details for various seats, perches and picnic tables, refer to the seats and picnic tables section of the 'Countryside Access Design Guide' (Scottish Natural Heritage).

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