Feature: Use Your Paths
The Ramblersí Associationís (RA) has declared an "open week in Britain's healthiest gym", encouraging the public to explore the wonders of the British countryside and its rights of way network during the Use Your Paths Week (18-26 June 2005).
Our ancient footpath network is arguably the nationís healthiest and cheapest gym with millions using it yearly, and there will be plenty of opportunity for flexing muscles during the weeklong awareness-raising event. As well as having an opportunity to get your hands mucky clearing footpaths, you the public, are invited on hundreds of walks across the UK to highlight the importance of footpaths for economic, social and recreational purposes.
As well as generating £6 billion for the rural economy annually, our ancient footpaths help keep us fit and healthy; link communities; allow us to enjoy the beauty of the countryside and explore away from roads traffic and often other people.
Yet the latest figures issued by the Audit Commission show that only 69% of rights of way are easily walkable, and the RA wants to throw the spotlight on the forgotten 31% of paths that canít be used.
Des Garrahan, Footpath Campaigner at the RA said: ďWe are expecting thousands to take part in this awareness raising week. Even though we use footpaths on a daily basis it is easy to overlook the fact that at our feet is the healthiest and cheapest gym in the country as well as a real economic generator for rural communities. What we must not forget though is that nearly a third of our paths are unusable and more must be done to help encourage walking by opening them upĒ.
The RA has created a special website for Use Your Paths Week where the public can access information on footpaths as well as report footpath problems.
For more information visit the website Use Your Paths