Green fields and blue skies on the South Downs Way

Culverts, Ponies, Presentations and Audits

10th September 2015

As usual our volunteers have been busy over this last week. My colleague Ben led some volunteers over in Hampshire to clear out a stream bed that runs alongside the South Downs Way. This winterbourne stream only runs in the winter, so we wanted to get it cleared before the wet weather returns. Some of our intrepid volunteers even crawled in the small culvert to clear debris from inside! Great dedication!

Whilst the volunteers were out working I was stuck in the office preparing a presentation on the new 5 year South Downs Way Management Plan for the National Park Authority Members. Not quite as exciting but keeping everyone in the loop is vitally important in this job.

I’ve also had the pleasure this week in trying to clarify the legalities of using a specially constructed pony drawn carriage to take disabled people into the countryside. Normally horse and carriages are only permitted on restricted byways, byways and public roads. They cannot be driven on bridleways or footpaths as they are classed as a vehicle. However vehicles specially constructed to carry one disabled person are permitted to use bridleways and footpaths. So the question is, can this pony and carriage be classed as an ‘invalid carriage’ as defined in legislation. My research so far is tending towards, yes, but rights of way law has many grey areas.

Trail accreditation though “Leading Quality Trails” a European wide scheme has been taking some of my interest this week also. This very rigorous audit of trails and their facilities is a good way of critically assessing the trail in an independent way. So far 10 trails across Europe have gain accreditation and none yet in the UK. Perhaps we’ll become the first? There is a cost implication to this accreditation so my next task will be to assess if having the accreditation will be beneficial to us in the long term in attracting both new visitors and importantly new funding. Watch this space.

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Our volunteers clearing a culvert
Volunteers clearing a stream bed
The pony drawn disability carriage