A volunteer force of ramblers is teaming up with Surrey County Council to help keep the county’s 2,000 miles of public paths* in good condition.
A team from the Surrey branch of the Ramblers will patrol the countryside to make sure paths that in total cover more than the distance between London and the Canary Islands are kept clear.
Work the volunteers will carry out for the council includes clearing overgrowth and fixing signs on paths that pass through the breathtaking scenery of the Surrey Hills.
It follows the Ramblers teaming up with the council to give the Greensand Way a new lease of life after it had fallen into neglect in places over the past decade. The overhaul of the Surrey part of the 100-mile trail means walkers can now climb the height of Snowdon and Ben Nevis combined without leaving Surrey.**
The trail, which stretches from Haslemere in Surrey to Hamstreet in Kent, was cleared in Surrey where it became overgrown and was re-routed along some sections.
Ramblers Surrey Area Footpath Secretary Brian Reader said: “These are major steps forward in deploying our members to help the county council to monitor and improve Surrey’s fine network of footpaths and bridleways.”
Ian Lake, Surrey County Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment, said: “It’s fantastic news that the Ramblers are giving up their free time so we can all enjoy Surrey’s stunning countryside.
“They will act as our eyes and ears in the countryside, walking paths regularly to keep them in good order and alerting us to where extra work is needed.
“Surrey is blessed by having so many people prepared to work tirelessly for good causes like the Ramblers have done in communities for decades. I pay tribute to everyone who contributes to this volunteer effort and we should do everything possible to support and encourage it.”
The Ramblers are also checking a random sample of Surrey’s public rights of way, to monitor whether the paths are easy to use, on the Council’s behalf twice a year. This year volunteers have reported back on a total of 485 sections of path amounting to 100 miles.
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Notes to editors
* Footpaths, bridleways and byways
** The total elevation of the hills along the 55-mile Surrey section is 8,166ft compared to Snowdon’s 3,559ft and Ben Nevis’ 4,409ft. Combined this comes to 7,968ft.
The first trial group of 20 Ramblers members are due to start the volunteer warden path scheme by the end of January.
More members of the Ramblers are expected to join. The council also wants to hear from other individuals, such as horse riders, and organisations who want to get involved. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the Surrey Area of the Ramblers visit http://www.surreyramblers.org.uk/
Support and training for volunteers who sign up to the scheme is provided.