Simple things you can do to look after local paths
You may have noticed paths in your area looking a bit overgrown or untidy. There's some simple things that you can do to help. There's some tips below on ways to help such as reporting bigger problems to the right people or doing some simple tasks yourself to improve the condition of the paths you use while you are out and about.
Path maintenance is usually the responsibility of the landowner but in the case of “core paths” there may be maintenance agreements up with the Local Authority (Council). If a path is blocked or very difficult to use as a result of poor maintenance or weather damage you can report such issues to your local access officer. In some places there are active Community Path Groups that recruit and organise volunteers to look after existing paths and create new ones. Your local Community Council is likely to know if such a group exists in your area – they may even have helped set one up.
It's important to take care outdoors. We all have to be responsible and take our litter home. Well, something you and your family can do that can greatly improve your local paths is to take some gloves and a bin bag on your walk and clear up someone else’s litter for them. If there is a particularly bad littering problem on your paths, and if bins are overflowing, then you can report this to your Local Authority - usually on their website. If you do pick up litter please make sure that you either put it in a litter bin, or take it home with you and dispose of it responsibly. Keep Scotland Beautiful has lots more info about doing your bit to clean up Scotland.
There are times when paths can become difficult to use due to small branches growing across them. The next time you go out, after spotting such a problem, parents or other adult could bring along some garden gloves and a small pair of secateurs (pruning clippers) to remove the branches. Try not to cut anything more than 15mm thick, and cut the small branches close to the trunk or main branch but taking care not to damage the collar (where the branch meets the trunk). If the branches are more than 15mm thick (or if it is more than a 5 minute task you can do yourself) you should report the issue to your Local Authority Access Officer or contact Paths for All for advice.
Creating habitat for minibeasts
If you are removing small branches from the path then this is a perfect opportunity to create a habitat pile. Find a spot where you can put the branches out of the way of the path and out of sight where they are not likely to be disturbed and stack the branches neatly on the ground. This pile of dead wood will attract all sorts of minibeasts who will find it a great place to live. Later you can go back and see if anyone has moved in (being careful not to disturb them).
Looking after signage
Another simple task you can do is to wipe down any signs or information panels that have become hard to read. Over time these signs can become very grubby and it’s a very simple task to bring along some gloves and wipes from home and given them a clean-up. Be careful that you don’t over-reach yourself and only clean signs/panels that you can easily access.
Little tasks that make a big difference
These simple tasks should take up no more than 5 minutes of your walk and are a great way for you to have a positive impact on the environment around you. You never know, you may inspire others around you to do similar things while they are out on a walk too. If you spot problems on paths that are more serious than a 5 minute task you or your family can do yourselves then contact your Local Access Officer, or Paths for All, for advice.
Some activities to try
Some suggested activities for this week are:
- Pick up some litter: Do a 5 minute litter pick. Take gloves and a bin bag on your walk and clear up some litter. Put it in a litter bin or take it home with you and put it in your own bin.
- Snip overhanging branches & leaves: Work together as a familiy - Bring gloves and secateurs and adults can trim small branches that are growing across the path.
- Make a home for bugs. Once the adult has done the cutting, children can carry the branches to a quiet spot and build a habitat pile for creepy crawlies.
- Look after signage: Clean a sign or information panel. If you spot a dirty sign or panel on your walk that’s hard to read then next time take gloves and wipes with you and give it a clean.
- Report a problem: If you spot major path problems that you couldn’t simply fix in 5 minutes (flooding, blocked access, damaged path surfaces etc) then you report them to your Local Access Officer.
We’d love to know what you like to do on your local paths. For any of these tasks take before and after photos and tell others what you’ve done – you may inspire others to make a difference too.