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The Kington Footpath Scheme, which has led to the reopening and refurbishment of countless public paths in 16 parishes in north west Herefordshire, this year celebrates its twentieth anniversary.
Peter Newman, a trustee of the society and our local correspondent for north-west Herefordshire, invented the scheme and has led it for the past 20 years. It is run in conjunction with the society, Herefordshire Council and the Hereford Probation Service.
Says Peter: ‘Over the last 20 years, with the help of offenders on Community Payback, we have erected about 600 footpath and bridleway signs and 130 waymark posts, all marked with the Open Spaces Society’s logo; we have installed 600 stiles and 18 footbridges up to seven metres long, and created 35 ditch crossings. We have also part-funded two large, steel footbridges.
‘In addition, we have strimmed many miles of paths and cleared overgrown stiles. We now have much ongoing maintenance work to do because of the increased number of walkers coming to the area.
‘We strim the Herefordshire parts of the Offa’s Dyke and Mortimer Trail, and we have created a new route between these two long-distance paths and the Wye Valley Walk, called Vaughan’s Way, which passes manor houses previously owned by the mighty Marcher dynasty of the Vaughans, most notably Hergest Court in Kington.
‘We have an average of six workers and a Hereford Probation Office supervisor on most Sundays, working for five hours. Recently we have done some work on the local open space, the Rec, where we’ve put in a new path and cleared scrub, improving this much-used area, saving thousands of pounds-worth of work for the Kington Recreation Ground Trust which owns it.
‘It’s impossible to say how much money we have saved the local authorities’ path-maintenance budgets over the 20 years, but it must be many thousands of pounds. To start with, so many paths were obstructed and overgrown, and now they are in much better order.
‘A rural county like Herefordshire relies on walkers for income, and our work must have encouraged many more people to visit the area because they know they’ll get a good walk or ride here. So we have contributed to the tourist economy too,’ Peter concludes.
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