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Data Source: Photographic images of the Trail surface are scored at regular intervals, 3 times a year, looking east and west (at least one location for each wall mile, between Rudchester and Burgh by Sands, where the ground is archaeologically sensitive). High Scores = Good Condition, Low Scores = Poor Condition.
The Importance of Maintaining an Overview
Regular surface management by the 2 Trail Lengthsmen and seasonal Visitor Influence by the Summer Passport, helps to maintain an overall good surface condition. Long periods of extreme weather and visitor impact have been shown to significantly affect the condition. Therefore it is important to have an overview of the Trail Condition throughout the year and present all elements which affect it.
Latest Trail Condition Assessment
(Per the average score for 2011). The Trail Condition has been assessed to be in a significally better condition than when the Trail opened in 2003, and better than the same time in 2010. The good Trail condition shown in the April photographic exercise, is thought to be due to the low rainfall at the beginning of the year, very good weather in April and a late Easter.
Surface Management - The first Trail Lengthsman began working on the Trail late 2004 and was joined by the second Lengthsman 2 years later. Their remit is to provide a field presence and to carry out 'stitch in time' maintenance between Heddon and Bowness. The 'Trail-Wide Generic Consent' forms the basis of the Lengthsman's job description. Works include grassland management, minor repairs to structures, pinch-point erosion repairs, liaison with the Trail Staff and landowners.
Generic Consent - The Generic Consent is a menu of agreed proactive surface works permitted by English Heritage.
Monitoring - Surface monitoring high-lights problem areas and can prevent further deterioration by being addressed at an early stage. In addition to the Lengthsmen and Trail Volunteers providing a Field Presence, the Trail team monitor and assess fixed-point photographs which are used to quantify a 'Trail Condition Score'.
Trail Condition Score - Photographs are taken at each Wall Mile 3 times a year (April, August and November). A condition score is assessed and displayed in graph form to demonstrate current condition and to compare with prior periods. The Annual Average Score is calculated using the average of the 3 assessments, allowing year-on-year comparison.
Rainfall - This graph shows the average level of rainfall (MET Office) for the Hadrian's Wall Area - Central, East & West, (40km2 Grid Squares 71, 72 & 77 respectively). Another useful figure we receive is the soil moisture deficit i.e. how wet or dry the ground is. This graph gives an indication of when the ground was very wet or dry. Ground Wet (when SMD is less than 10mm to reach field capacity / saturation) and Ground V Dry (when SMD is more than 40mm to reach field capacity).
Summer Passport - The Trail's Summer Passport can only be stamped between May - October each year. The graph shows that the Passport is in operation during the less sensitive times of year when the ground is most likely to be drier and in a better condition to cope with the footfall.
Capital Works - While the improving Trail condition is largely due to the maintenance regime and visitor influencing via the Passport scheme and promotion of alternative walks, another significant element is Capital improvement works. A number of projects are worked up each year and tend to involve archaeological consent (SMC) before going ahead.