December 2013

18th December 2013

The leaves have all fallen and the nights have drawn in, the temperature has dropped and many creatures have tucked themselves up for the winter, but not us! We’ve been busy and we’ve got lots planned for the next few weeks.

Many new oak signposts and a few new oak bridleway gates have been installed by staff and volunteers over the last few weeks. It’s a bit like painting the Forth Bridge, it’s never complete. We have over 600 signposts and over 100 gates that we maintain, so there’s always some to replace. We normally have to dig out any old gate posts and dig holes for the new ones by hand. This is tough work as each oak post goes in the ground 1.15 metres through solid chalk and flint! However last week we had the rare opportunity to take advantage of one of our contractors’ diggers to pull out the old posts for us. This 2 minute job saved us over an hour; happy days.

The South Downs Way is extremely popular with large organised events, especially over the summer months. 1000’s of people take part in events along the SDW, often for charity. As you can imagine we do need to manage these events carefully so as not to cause too much disruption to the trail, other users and the local farmers. So at the end of November we organised our first event organisers meeting to get as many event organisers as possible around the table together. This was very successful and we hope to have new event guidelines as a result.

Over the coming weeks and into the New Year we are exploring new techniques to repair and resurface tracks so as not to detract from the landscape or over engineer the route. We will hopefully be trialling a few different approaches. More on this as it happens.

We are also in the final preparations of installing a new database to help manage our condition assessments and maintenance tasks. This should be installed in the next few weeks. Fingers crossed it works!  

So Christmas is almost here and there is no better way to work off some of those festive excesses that to get out onto your local trail. I hope for some crisp clear winter days to get out of the office and enjoy the SDW over festive season.

Have a great Christmas season everyone. See you in 2014.

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New Bridleway gate on the South Downs Way