Farnham Ramblers are proud to be involved in maintaining the high standard of the footpaths in our area. We have regular maintenance days staffed by volunteers. This page explains how we get to know of issues concerning footpaths and how these issues are translated into plans and actions to correct them.
Our efforts are masterminded by the Footpath Maintenance Coordinator, John Plympton. The coordinator receives reports from three Footpath Secretaries, who each cover an area of our territory. David Ross covers the Waverley Parishes, Alan Keeley the Guildford Parishes and Tim Devis the Farnham area.
Footpath Secretaries deal with county and borough councils as representatives of the Ramblers and need to know the footpath law as contained in the blue book. They can represent the Ramblers at Public Inquiries and look at Footpath Diversion applications. They have been trained to carry out the Best Value Performance Indicator reports for Surrey County Council (SCC) twice a year which gives the council information about path access issues.
Before and after images from a task in 2012 show the impact that can be made in a day.
There are two methods by which we get to know about footpath problems. One is through our team of 19 local members who are Footpath Wardens. Each warden is responsible for a patch within the area of a secretary. They walk all the paths on their patch at least once a year and can deal with smaller vegetation problems, waymarking and small stile repairs. They report any problems which they cannot deal with to their secretary by e-mail, with a copy to the coordinator. Our long term aim is that the Wardens build good links with the Parish council for their patch. The coordinator keeps the wardens informed of plans, achievements and issues via a newsletter sent twice a year.
Footpath problems may also be reported by individual members of the Ramblers or members of the public. You will find a problem report form on this website. These forms go to David Ross, who sends them on to the responsible secretary if appropriate. You can see the recent problems raised here using the Footpath Submissions drop-down. Problems may also be reported on the Ramblers' national and Surrey Area websites.Any that are for our area are sent on to one of our three secretaries. Of course the public can go onto the SCC website (or those of Hampshire and Sussex, depending on location of the problem) to report problems. However for problems in our south west Surrey area we would prefer reports through our on-line report form, so we are aware of the problems in our Surrey Parishes; we will pass them on to SCC.
The coordinator looks at the overall picture of reports from wardens and secretaries, plus further suggestions for tasks from SCC. The coordinator then has a meeting with the SCC Countryside Access Assistant, Nicky Scott, in the late autumn to build up a task list for the following year. SCC also has a good number of other volunteer groups working on Surrey Rights of Way, including other Ramblers' groups.
SCC has responsibility for all public rights of way in Surrey - that is footpaths, bridleways and byways; they provide us with equipment and insurance against injury while working on the rights of way under their agreement. SCC is responsible for getting agreement from landowners to do the work, which is usually forthcoming. SCC also provides any materials that are needed (e.g. sleepers) and the transport of these materials to the site. It may schedule contractors' work to dovetail with our task. It carries out a risk assessment, and agrees car parking arrangements with the landowners.
Our Footpath Maintenance team operates once a month except in winter (i.e. March to October) on a Tuesday (chosen because Tuesday fits in with availability of SCC personnel and equipment and does not clash with a Farnham Ramblers daytime walk). The tasks are normally from 10am to about 4pm. Each day's task has a leader, either Alan Keeley, John Hemsley, David Ross or John Plympton. We have a main first aider in Mary Stuart Jones, and backups in Alan Keeley, Barry Smith, John Hemsley and David Ross.
The coordinator has an outline plan at the start of the year of the location of each task. More detail is known of the tasks as time progresses and a team leader is appointed and agrees to run the allocated tasks. Plans and details are e-mailed to the regular maintenance volunteers, and appear on the website (as a news item and in the footpath diary) at about the same time. The planned locations and dates appear in the Walks Programme. Car parking arrangements are added when they are know; subsequent to this, you can view a map of the car park location from the Walks Programme.
Plans are of courses subject to change from events outside our control e.g. a landowner refusing to give permission. We had to cancel our operations for one day in the summer of 2013 because it was too hot!
You will find contact details for the coordinator, secretaries and wardens under the Footpath Contacts drop-down.