St Marys Lands -Trampled pathways

One of our members has raised the following issues re the Racecourse and one particular footpath crossing it.  We have forwarded this information to the SML Working Party and hope they will heed this advice.

“My thesis for my degree (many moons ago) was ‘The Effect of Trampling on Sand Dune Paths’ so I can claim to know something on the subject given the variety of habitats these crossed.  For too long now the Racecourse has forced the walkers and dog walkers of Warwick to tread a very narrow route on footpaths 335/WB13a/1 and 335/WB13a/2 using orange netting and poles. 

Inevitably this path has broken down.   I won’t go into the findings of my long dissertation but in brief, compaction of the soil by excess treading, inhibits root growth (in this case grass) which previously helped to hold/bind the path structure together.  The path becomes bare of cover, and is subject to erosion through the action of the elements and continue trampling.  

This breakdown is bad land management.  While there is no legal requirement for the width of footpaths common sense would suggest it ought to be wide enough for two people to walk side by side except in certain difficult terrains.  

My study showed that narrow paths break down very easily; wider paths tend to hold their structure.  Common sense yes, but it was backed up by quantitative data.  

Now to my point.

Here is the entrance to the footpath mentioned. The Racecourse closed it off for at least a week.  There is a procedure for closing footpaths which I doubt they followed.

Note the state of the path.  This is mainly due to excess trampling due to foot passage being restricted to about a metre width.  There are others causes I admit which need to be addressed by good land management practices. 

Note the white plastic poles just beyond the gate.  Again forcing walkers through a narrow gap at the very start of the path. Now I understand that all users and stakeholders of shared facilities must work together.  For this reason, the Racecourse officials, footpath officers, and others really should address the issues I’ve raised because there were a lot of annoyed Warwick residents and this is building up a lot of bad feeling towards the Racecourse.”

public right of way

Some time ago, two FoSML members attended a site meeting over the trampling of the crocus and the wear and tear at the nearby gate – this was due to exactly the same policy by the Racecourse.  Since that meeting the other footpath was re-opened and the problem resolved itself.  This demonstrates how advice was given and accepted and the problem was solved.

The gate has now been unlocked and the signage changed. Thanks to all those who campaigned to get the right of way opened again.