Maintenance of upland paths is essential to enable the path network to sustain increasing pressures of use and weather, and to extend the life of rebuilt paths.
If routinely maintained to a high standard the path can last for ever, assuming pressures remain constant, with only minor repairs ever needed. On-going routine maintenance helps to ensure value for money and is the distinguishing mark of good path management.
An established maintenance programme will incorporate regular monitoring to check that the path is sustaining the pressure of use and weather. If pathwork has taken place, monitoring will check that it is performing to the standard required, with no drainage features failing or damage occurring on the path or restored areas. Minor maintenance work is undertaken at the same time as monitoring checks; more extensive maintenance should be reported for work programming.
If resources are available, it is preferable that a path is monitored about four times a year. However, two maintenance inspections per year will make a big difference, particularly at times most prone to problems. The timing and extent of maintenance will depend on a number of factors which will vary from path to path, depending on its characteristics:
- weather trends and altitude - rates of precipitation and areas prone to late snow
- path dynamics - steep or level gradients, mobile or consolidated surfaces,original or newly constructed
- user numbers and seasonal variations - how many people walk on the path and when.
These characteristics should have been identified during the path assessment.
With problems arising from effects of weather and seasonal use the preferred timing for monitoring and maintenance work will be:
- end of winter/early spring (April/May) - once the worst of any snow-melt and prolonged periods of rain are over; and damage by frost heave is past its worst
- mid summer (July/August) - when pressure of use is at its highest; particularly on well used paths with a mobile surface, where cross-drains and water-bars quickly become blocked causing surface water damage to the path surface
- autumn (October/November) - at the end of the summer season; to check drains before the heavier rains and snow of winter arrives
- winter (if site allows) - throughout winter when dead grass is blown around and is likely to block drainage features.
Most of the tasks required are included at the end of each pathwork technique described in Sections 2, 3 and 4. The tasks generally involve:
- clearing out accumulated debris or silt from blocked drains and ditches
- re-packing loose stone work where it has settled or washed out
- re-surfacing washed out or worn away surfaces or compaction behind drains etc.
- re turfing or blocking path braids, or short cuts and off-path use.
Any material won from carrying out these tasks should be re-used, e.g. to resurface where compaction has occurred, to pack gaps in stonework, to re-turf path sides or restoration areas.
Target notes on imformation contained on a standard specification survey sheet. Click image to enlarge
Maintenance Recording Sheets
Using a recording system can ensure that maintenance work is carried out to required standards. Details of maintenance tasks carried out are recorded, as well as information on the number of drainage features and length of path inspected, and how much time was required. As it becomes apparent when maintenance is required and how often, they provide a work record for the path manager and assist in the programming of future maintenance.
Changes in use and extreme weather may cause drains and path surfaces to fail or wash away. Damage which involves time consuming re-building, and possibly new pathwork to rectify, is more than routine maintenance. Minor works that are required should be recorded on the maintenance sheet with as much information as possible, including:
- location (referenced to the path and section identifier where possible)
- quantity of work and materials required
- urgency of the work.
- length of time required to carry out work
It should then be brought to the attention of the path manager or client as soon as possible, for appropriate action and repair work.