Moving the ground

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Constructing a 'bench' across the slope...

The construction of any path will need to take account of the topography and the first choice in adapting to the topography is careful route alignment – avoiding unnecessary rises and falls is good for most users and also eases construction. Where it is not possible to keep the path within an acceptable gradient, you may need to undertake earthworks to reduce steep gradients. The scale of the earthworks will potentially have a large impact on the cost of constructing the path, so the design of any earthworks is very important.

Variations in topography that affect the construction of a path are:

  • Cross slopes - where a path has to cut across a hillside

  • Longitudinal slopes - where a path follows the shape of the land

Cross slopes

In order to produce a path of adequate width across a slope it will be necessary to form a level ‘bench’. This can be done either by cutting a ‘bench’ into the slope or by building up to the level with a suitable well graded fill material. The angle of the cut slope is important for stability of the path and is dependent on the strength of the soil and underlying substrate (e.g. glacial till or rock).

Longitudinal slopes

The amount of work required to deal with short longitudinal slopes depends on the maximum gradient of the path specification. As part of the early stages of path planning try to select a route around high and low areas to avoid or minimise earthworks and disturbance. However, you may still need to deal with steep slopes and undulations, where the path traverses ground with hollows and hummocks.

Find out more about earthworks here.

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