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National trails petition handed in at Downing Street

Posted 31 January 2013
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National trails petition handed in at Downing Street
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Millions of people around the country will have walked on a national trail at some time or another. Only a dedicated few might set out to complete a long-distance route from end to end, but each section can form the basis of a pleasant day's walk or mountain bike ride.

However, the future of such trails is believed by the Ramblers to be under threat. Government plans would leave responsibility for each section of a trail in the hands of its local authority, meaning some parts may be maintained much better than others and each trail will not have anyone in charge of looking after the whole entity.

Such is the concern of the Ramblers that it has compiled an 18,000-name petition urging Natural England to have a rethink.

Ramblers chief executive Ben Southworth said: "Without a central co-ordinator, we fear there's a real possibility of the trails falling into disrepair.

"I hope our petition hand in today will remind the government how deeply our supporters care for the future of National Trails."

The idea of national trails owes much to access campaigners at work in the early 20th century. One such campaigner was Tom Stephenson, whose brainchild was the Pennine Way. Stephenson, a campaigner who believed the 1932 great trespass on Kinder Scout was far less significant than others believed, argued that such a trail would help enable people to go walking on Kinder and other moors such as Bleaklow.

Tom Stephenson's dream was realised in 1965, with the 268-mile trail stretching all the way to Kirk Yetholm, just over the border in Scotland. Numerous others have followed, including two following the line of historic boundaries - Offa's Dyke (177 miles) and Hadrian's Wall (84 miles). 

The Ramblers will be hoping present-day local authority boundaries do not end up being significant, with one side being well-maintained and the other not.   ADNFCR-2803-ID-801532219-ADNFCR