Campaign launched to attract 100-strong army of volunteers to look after North Yorkshire's walking routes

A campaign is being launched to attract volunteers to a 100-strong army of people devoted to maintaining a network of footpaths, bridleways and views enjoyed by visitors from around the world.

North Yorkshire County Council’s Countryside Access Service relies on a dedicated team to care for 3,700 miles of public rights of way (PROW) outside of the two National Parks and as the summer gets underway their work is stepping up.

Stuart and Janette Hamilton have been volunteering with the service for two years after relocating from Scotland to Malton. As keen walkers and regular users of local footpaths, they wanted to give back to the community.

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“We love being outdoors in the beautiful North Yorkshire countryside, so being a volunteer gets us out into the fresh air doing something unusual,” said Mr Hamilton. “It’s really fulfilling and exciting as we find paths we never knew existed. It’s good to know we are benefitting the community and making Malton and the surrounding area a more beautiful place to visit.

Could you help look after Yorkshire's footpaths and bridleways?
Could you help look after Yorkshire's footpaths and bridleways?

“Volunteering is great as it means we are given the responsibility of doing certain tasks. We appreciate that funds and resources are tight so there’s no better way than getting locals to help. It works really well as we know the routes and are the eyes on the ground.”

Volunteers assist the service by inspecting issues that have been reported by the public – and they help out in a practical way with waymarking, surveys, and clearing vegetation from around stiles, gates, signposts and bridges.

As well as the volunteers, there are many groups across the county who also want to get involved, and in some cases are already taking a proactive approach to looking after their local paths.

Arrietty Heath, volunteer co-ordinator for the Countryside Access Service, has devised a Path Keeper scheme, to cultivate working relationships with the various user groups that access the Rights of Way network.