Top tips to keep our amazing paths tip top

Mini missions to protect our precious walking routes

What would we have done this year without getting out for walks? 

Local walking routes, parks, countryside trails and pathways have been a great friend to us as more families headed out into nature more often.

But did you know that there are lots of ways to return the favour and look after our walking routes and local environment with small tasks that can make a big difference?

You may have noticed paths in your area looking untidy or overgrown, or you may be concerned about a bigger problem that is preventing families accessing a walk way.

Our Community Paths team have been on hand to suggest a few family-friendly maintenance activities to enjoy during your winter walks together.

Litter
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.

Reporting issues 
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 council. If a path is blocked or very difficult to use due to 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. 

Overgrown paths
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 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 should report the issue to the local council.

Creating homes 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).

Look after signage
Over time and particularly during the winter months, signs and information borads around parks and walk ways can become very grubby but it's imple task to bring along some gloves and wipes from home and give them a clean-up.

Be careful that you don’t over-reach yourself and only clean signs/panels that you can easily access.

If you need anymore help or advice about simple path maintenance, or if you want to share before and after photos with us, email communitypaths@pathsforall.org.uk