Reprinted from Newsletter 113, dated 2004 October

Satellite system to help maintain footpaths

Jim Nagel

A more effective maintenance programme for Somerset’s footpath network will be possible when a new database comes online in 2005. Rights-of-way officers will be able to do away with pen and paper, and the job of copying information back in the office, by using handheld devices to record data in the field.

The portable computer uses the global positioning system (GPS): it calculates its exact location by comparing the time difference for signals to reach it from from two or more satellites in orbit around the Earth.

Officers will be able to note the condition of surfaces and furniture on rights of way, and the database will keep track of paths that require signposting or have issues about ploughing or cropping. And over time, an invaluable historic record will be built up.

Fund to improve path network

The Community Access Fund is a £50,000 fund set up in July to help improve Somerset’s rights-of-way network as well as permissive paths. Community groups and parish councils can apply for grants of up to £5,000.

Grants from the Community Access Fund can be used for physical works such as changing stiles for kissing-gates or for non-physical work such as producing leaflets about parish walks or special waymarks. Projects have to be completed by the end of March.

West Somerset Coast Path work continues

Work is continuing to complete missing links on the West Somerset Coast Path, which will connect the River Parrett Trail at Steart with the Southwest Coast Path national trail in Minehead. Most of the West Somerset path will follow the coast, but part will come inland onto the Quantocks to avoid using the busy A39 road.

Coleridge Way opens in 2005

The Coleridge Way is to be open for walkers in 2005, traversing 40 miles of landscape near Nether Stowey to Porlock and Exford where Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth drew inspiration for their poetry in 1797.