Summer is coming - time to get into the countryside againPublished Friday, 27th March 2015
Winter might continue to bite, but dedicated groups of volunteers are already preparing the Rotherham countryside in preparation for better weather.
Local ramblers are busy out and about helping the Council prepare its rights of way network for the coming warm months - when tens of thousands of local people will don their boots or get on their horses and bikes and make their way into the borough's beautiful local countryside.
Groups such as the Trans Pennine Trail Rangers and the Rotherham Metro Ramblers volunteer work party play an invaluable role in surveying and preparing the local network of paths.
One project nearing completion over winter is the removal of all stiles in the parish of Wales, something the Ramblers volunteers will be concluding over the coming weeks.
Richard Pett, the Council's Rights of Way Officer, explained: "Stiles are a traditional part of the British countryside, but some people find them a barrier to their enjoyment. So, where possible we work with local farmers to remove those barriers that prevent reasonable access. Our thanks for the access improvements to routes around Wales go out to all local farmers, people such as the Woodward family at Woodall and their neighbours, the Brocksopp and Skepper families at Harthill.
"These farmers are playing their part by enabling us to remove stiles, which is why soon, we will have a stile-free parish at Wales, which with its relatively flat land, lends itself beautifully to greater access for everyone."
Richard said the idea first took hold in the Lake District and was called 'miles without stiles'. "Here in Rotherham it is through the work of our small team and our brilliant groups of volunteers that we can keep the local network of paths open as well as continually trying to make it easier for everyone to use," he added.
“We will be looking to make other parishes free of stiles and will continue to remove unreasonable barriers wherever we can and replace them either with kissing gates or just leave open gaps.
"Our access group and the Local Access Forum give us guidance on such barriers and how they feel they should be addressed and we greatly value the input and ideas of independent local walkers, cyclists and users."