Once you have selected a path to adopt we will send you a recording sheet so that you can complete the monitoring stage. Each path has already been divided into sections and we are looking for reports on the condition of each section. Within each section different features are listed on the sheet as a prompt, and a glossary of terms is available to help you describe their condition.
Getting out on the hill
It has to be said that you will struggle to do the monitoring if you are hoping to bag any summits on the same day, and anyone that accompanies you will be likely to get bored or grumpy – speaking from experience. However, keeping your eyes on and around the path can be just as interesting as taking in the landscape. And once you’re aware of the way a path is built and maintained you’ll be unlikely to overlook path features in the future (although you may make all your future hill-walking companions bored and grumpy!).
The equipment you’ll need – mostly obvious, but worth listing...
- Clipboard and pencils (better in the wet than pens)
- Pre-printed recording sheets for your path
- Large clear plastic bag (in case it rains)
- Digital Camera
- GPS (optional, but helpful)
- The usual hill walking gear
Recording it all
We don’t need a description of every cross drain or waterbar, and we want to keep things balanced between detail and you being able to make it along the length of the path in less than a week. Digital photography is a very useful means of recording condition and combined with a GPS track we can locate all the photos that you take (but check that your camera is set to the correct time and date before setting off!). As well as noting the weather during the survey, it helps to have an idea of the ground conditions – it’s less fun to work in the rain, but going out just after a period of wet weather should give you more clues about the state of the drainage.
Some sections will have a lot of features and it might be a bit daunting to find a way of reporting adequately. It’s just as useful to know that things are in good condition, so you can, for example, just use a tally to count the number of cross drains that need no work, then the number that need clearance, and the number in need of TLC. Work in a way that suits you, so if you prefer ticking boxes then that is just as helpful as long-winded descriptions of the lichen on each waterbar.
Here are a few examples of features and the kind of feedback that would help identify maintenance requirements:
Waterbars full of sediment, but stonework is solid; see pic [MLE26-2-1].
Waterbars on section 2 cleared of loose sediment, to expose liner stone; see pic [MLE26-2-2].
Waterbar at [grid ref] now a step due to erosion of surface in lower side; see pic [MLE26-2-3]
Surface eroded to expose base for 50m – alignment of route appears to bypass waterbar; see pic [MLE26-3-4]
Putting the boot in
There will be times, especially for waterbars, where a quick scrape with a boot is all that is needed. Some cross drains and waterbars have a tendency to collect material washed off the surface and a couple of minutes judicious work with your heel could save a big problem if the bar or drain gets blocked. We would encourage you to clean these features if you have the time and inclination. For the super-keen, a shovel can be even more useful, although it can be a bit cumbersome to cope with the recording gear and a shovel. If you do clean ditches, drains and waterbars, then your relatively small effort will save lots of work, freeing resources to be directed on other sections of the path, or other paths. Please remember to let us know that you’ve been busy with the boot or shovel by writing a note on your recording sheet.
However, don’t worry about trying to repair stonework – it’s a skilled job and the path builders won’t thank you if they have to undo some ‘footering’. If you are interested in doing so, we will look at providing opportunities for you to get involved with this type of repair work with some training and supervision, but it goes beyond the scope of the Adopt-A-Path Scheme. For now, take a picture and write a note in your records.
Pen to paper, finger to keyboard
Once you finish the survey, it’s probably best to write up the results as soon as you can – you’ll find it easier to decipher the damp squiggles if you can actually remember being there!
If you’ve taken lots of pictures it will help us if you can rename them in a way that makes some sense. Using the Path Code (e.g. UL1) then the section number and an identifying number or letter is a good way, or if you recorded waypoints with a GPS, you can match them up. However, it doesn’t really matter how or whether you rename the images as long as we can identify where the pictures were taken and when (digital cameras will record the time, which can be matched to the GPS track using software such as immageo or geosetter – ask Mr Google for help on those!). A tedious but comprehensive way of doing that manually would be to provide a table with the image name and its grid reference, but that would assume you have lots of spare time and no more hills to visit.
The other thing to think about with images is that size does matter – please reduce them to around 1200 x 900 pixels (or something close depending on the ratio of the image). This should then be possible upload to the web without tying up your computer for days.
Once you have looked through your notes and sorted out the photos you can submit your report.
And then what?
Once you’ve finished the hard work you might want to know what happens to all that information? We’ve devised a database to hold all the information and put it on a map. We’ll look at the reports and try to decide where the priorities lie – should we send a team out to repair one broken cross drain, or resurface another path? It might not be possible to do all the repairs in one year, so we’ll carry these forward and leapfrog to the top of the list (until something obviously urgent appears!). All of this information should soon be available on this web site.
Drop us a line and we’ll try to help.
Want to adopt-a-path?
Hopefully if you’ve got this far you’ve not been scared off. Please take the plunge and adopt a path. It’s not for a lifetime, so don’t feel that you would be committed forever. You can ‘unadopt’ your path at any time, and we will check on an annual basis that you still want to be part of the scheme and whether you need additional support.
We look forward to hearing from you and welcoming you to the scheme.