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National trails 'should be held in trust'

Posted 3 October 2012
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National trails 'should be held in trust'
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The designated national trails in the UK should be placed in a special trust to preserve and maintain them, the Ramblers has said.

In its winter edition of the Walking Forwards e-newsletter, the organisation has set out details of its idea for the trails to be brought under trust, arguing a range of goals can be achieved this way.

It said such a body would include local trail partnerships with the ability to raise funds that would carry accountability with the public.

The trust would establish a national set of quality standards across the trails and promote them as great places to go walking.

Backers of the plan include Andrew Denton, the chief executive of the Outdoor Industries Association.

He said: "National trails are hugely important to the outdoors industry and generate millions
of pounds for the economy every year.

"A National Trails Trust as proposed by the Ramblers would see the trails thrive which would be of great benefit to those who use National Trails as well as those whose businesses rely upon them."

The Ramblers said it would be a "natural custodian" for such a trust, being an organisation with 18,000 members that was instrumental in the establishment of national trails to begin with.

It noted that the newly-formed Canals and Rivers Trust - which replaced the British Waterways quango - is responsible for 2,000 miles of towpaths and riverside paths, but the national trails trust would be looking after 2,500 miles.

This is a figure set to grow, with the English coastal path gradually being expanded - the first stretch near Weymouth was in place in time for walkers to catch a view of the Olympic sailing events in the bay below.

The government is even looking at possibly adding the Isle of Wight Coast to the path, even though it has no physical link with the mainland, a prospect backed by the Ramblers.