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Walking group calls for government protection of National Trails

Posted 12 September 2012
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Walking group calls for government protection of National Trails
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The Ramblers' Association, Britain's biggest walking group, has called upon the government to do more to both protect the country's National Trails and make the most of their potential.

It was recently revealed that the coalition plans to hand the management of the routes from central government to Local Trail Partnerships, leaving them without a national body to take care of them.

However, the Ramblers' Association fears this will result in the long-distance trails turning into "garden paths" and being damaged over time.

It has now put forward proposals asking the government to set up a charity that would oversee the National Trails in a similar way to how the Canal & River Trust now takes care of British waterways.

"National Trails currently receive 12 million visits a year ... but we are only scratching the surface in terms of their economic, tourism, health and recreational potential," said a statement from the organisation.

It added that the 2,500 miles of walking routes have the power to connect rural businesses, encourage more visitors to head into the countryside and generate cash for the economy if they are managed properly.

The plans would presumably also lay out a protection strategy to prevent the pathways being eroded by millions of pairs of walking boots as the years go by.

Chief executive of the Outdoor Industries Association Andrew Denton has given his backing to the The Ramblers' Association's idea, as have a number of celebrities who like to go walking.

There are 15 National Trails in England and Wales and four in Scotland, with the first being the Pennine Way that was opened in 1965. Others include Hadrian's Wall, the South Downs Way and the Thames Path.

They were created by linking existing local footpaths, bridleways and minor roads and they are now used by walkers, cyclists and horse riders all over the country, particularly at the weekends.