Heritage Lottery Fund’s Resilient Heritage grant supports National Trails research project.

23rd April 2019

The Heritage Lottery Fund’s Resilient Heritage grant has supported a research project to help National Trail Partnerships explore how they might create a body to represent National Trails at senior levels of government, to secure recognition for the Trails, influence policy and encourage ongoing financial support for their maintenance.

There are 15 National Trails in England and Wales, managed by individual Trail Partnerships in England and by Steering Groups in Wales. The English partnerships are formed from Highway Authorities and other organisations with an interest in the trails and distribute the core funding provided by Natural England to ensure that the Trails are maintained to the required quality standards.

The Partnership Chairs have been working together as an informal alliance to raise concerns with MP’s and senior government officials about the lack of certainty around funding which could have a significant impact on the maintenance of National Trails and the ability of Trail Partnerships carry out their function. National Trails provide access to some of the best landscapes in the country along their existing 2,200 miles, and the addition of the new 2,100 mile long England Coast Path will only add to the need for a sustainable long term funding arrangement.  

The campaign was successful in retaining a level budget until 2019/20.  The early confirmation of funding for 2019/20, albeit with a 5% ‘efficiency saving’ applied to the budget available for Trail maintenance, allows Partnerships to plan better for the forthcoming year.  The maintenance budget is now just £1.52m per year for all the existing English National Trails – that is less than £700/mile.

This informal alliance formed of the Chairs and key officers from the National Trail Partnerships, along with representatives of the Welsh National Trails, are currently the only mechanism for coordinating joint-working and cooperation between Trail Partnerships.

The success of the campaign highlighted the fact that, unlike National Parks or Area’s of Outstanding Natural Beauty for example, National Trails did not have a single strong voice to represent them at senior levels of government.

There was a need to explore options for the establishment of a national body that can perform this essential function, strengthen the National Trail brand and possibly provide a vehicle for securing and distributing non government funding to support the core funding from central government that remains crucial to the sustainable maintenance of the trails.

Funding from HLF Resilient Heritage Fund enabled the appointment of consultants to examine the options and, working with the Trail Partnerships and other key players, recommend a preferred model for governance and operation. The key outcome of the project is to take us further towards establishing a robust and sustainable mechanism for national representation.

The full report is attached.


otrp_report_final.pdf1.3 MB

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