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Where can I walk ? Improving the network

When we drive anywhere by car the network is always being improved and is usually fairly well defined.
It no longer takes 24 hours to get from London to Edinburgh by road. Towns have been by-passed with fast A roads. Motorways have been built.
Road signage is generally of a good standard and with a GPS device some background voice will often make it very easy for you.

A pity that when we try to walk anywhere we are often faced with problems.
Addressing our walking network has attracted far less attention and leaves much to be desired.

Where can we walk ? In England this question falls into three categories ;

1. A road or highway, where it is safe and legal to do so. The legal bit is usually straightforward. Who would want to walk by a motorway ? The safety bit very much depends on the volume and speed of motor vehicles and whether there is a defined footway by the side of the road. There are quiet roads where it is a joy to walk, but by and large enjoyment comes from venturing into categories 2 and 3 below.
Unfortunately most walking routes involve some degree of road walking.

2. Footpaths or rights of way. History has preserved a large number of these, and thanks to the Countryside and Rights of Way (CROW) Act of the year 2000 and despite many being over private land, they are being recorded by county councils as routes we can follow. In Derbyshire there are 3000 miles, the equivalent of a walk to Naples and back.

3. Open access land, often moorland or woodland, where the public can generally walk freely without being confined to paths. Derbyshire has a good share of this, some of it within the administrative boundaries of NE Derbyshire.

Many people are deterred from walking simply because it is not always easy. It can require a bit of research and planning. People may be unfamiliar with map reading. Negotiating road traffic, particularly in urban areas, is not pleasant. Signage of footpaths is sometimes non-existent and leaves people uncertain as to whether or not they are trespassing. Maps do not always show paths across open access land where failure to keep to accepted paths can lead to difficulty or even danger.

As Ramblers we need to be pressing for improvements for walkers in all three categories. Improvements can be delivered for far less than the cost of new roads.
We are seeking to co-ordinate our approach to Derbyshire County Council from all Ramblers Areas that cover our county.
But this is an area where pressure, in the form of reports and suggestions from individuals can make a large difference.

If we want people to walk for health and environmental reasons we must as a society give them more encouragement and guidance.
For example, if you asked someone how to get from Chesterfield to Chatsworth by car you would probably get good directions. But what if you asked them the quickest and most attractive route on foot ?

Natural England Open Access

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