On the news bulletins today is a report initiated by the Hadrians Wall Trust into problems of erosion at the site.
This has been caused by huge numbers of people walking at the site and eroding the paths. The problems are exasperated when huge numbers of walkers walk in single file, putting additional pressure on the ground.
In erosion the grass gets worn away effectively by the repeated action from feet. Once the grass is gone the top soil is vulnerable. It can be easily washed away by even light rain or reduced further by more feet.
Archeologists have been reporting the need to protect this trail from very serious erosion since 2005.
The trail is very close to the wall and erosion back in 2005 was at least 10cm to 15 cm deep.
Anyone who knows me and Foot Trails, knows we have long been champions for the need for responsible or balanced tourism.
Those of us who are involved in tourism, promoting particular areas or activities have a responsibility to ensure that we make sensible choices which do not harm the very environments guests are coming to see and enjoy. This approach requires discipline, knowledge and good strategic planning.
Clearly at Hadrians wall things have become out of balance. Large groups of walkers are being highlighted as the principle cause.
I understand from first hand experience the challenges which such management and planning bring.
At Foot Trails we tackle this by including sustainable and responsible business goals at the very heart of our strategic planning.
We take particular steps. For example, we do not have groups larger than 10 -12 guests on our trail. Most of our guests are walking in much smaller numbers than these.
Large groups in the countryside are difficult to be in harmony with small rural hamlets and villages and small paths. We don’t have the facilities to support such huge numbers of people. I don’t think it works or is fair on the rural communities.
At Foot Trails we intentionally avoid the national trails. We create trails based on local knowledge and seek to provide the best experience. Sometimes we may walk a very small stretch of one. But I don’t believe national trails provide the best experience. Walking on local trails provides a more authentic experience. More peaceful too. Surely one of the joys of walking is the opportunity for peace and quiet this activity brings?
The opportunity to think, to just be. To enjoy nature and the outdoors.
Some of our British national trails now see in excess of 800 000 visitors and walkers a year. These numbers are huge.
I sympathise enormously with the issues at Hadrian’s Wall.
And I hope strong management and action is put in place to address the issues.
At Foot Trails we will continue to take responsibility for the areas of rural countryside we promote and for the walks and trails we create through these rural communities. We will remain local. Rural. Even though this challenge is not always easy.