Ensuring better use of time

A Forestry Commission boss has claimed that a reduction in waymarked paths is part of a process which has seen improvements to information provided for walkers.

The commission looks after 10,500 hectares of forest around Rothbury, with major sites at Kidland, Uswayford, Harbottle, Thrunton and Harwood.

Recently concerns were raised after it was revealed that the distance of waymarked paths would be reduced from 35 miles to 13, with the number of different routes reduced from 12 to six.

All of the routes will still be open and accessible to walkers, but will not be waymarked or maintained by rangers.

But Alex MacLennan, Forestry Commission public affairs manager for North East England, explained that the removal of the waymarkings was part of an ongoing process which has seen ‘revamped and renewed’ information for walkers as well as work on the website.

He added that the routes which will no longer be waymarked tend to be those that run alongside forest roads or those well-known to local people.

Following funding cuts, it ensures that rangers spend their time on the routes that are deeper into the forest.

“Longer more challenging-to-follow paths have continued to be waymarked,” he said.

“More up-to-date information has also been provided in all the main Rothbury area Forestry Commission-managed woodlands to ensure the correct information is given at the start for visitors.”

He added that nine out of ten visitors to the forests in the area will have Ordnance Survey maps with them as well.

Elsewhere, the commission is seeking a partner to run the Kielder Cycle Centre, offering a full range of cycling services including cycle hire and helping to develop mountain biking for people of all abilities.

The 62,000-hectare beauty spot has emerged as a major cycling destination over the past seven years, with 120 kilometres of acclaimed trails being built. See Page 42 for more details on the scheme.