Ceredigion County Council’s Public Rights of Way team couldn’t do their job of maintaining and improving footpaths and bridleways without the help and support of their dedicated, skilled and enthusiastic volunteers.

Reflecting on this work, Jill Lowry, Community Access Officer, gives an account of a challenging but rewarding project that she helped out with.

“I’m not a clever woman. I can’t offer wise words or sage advice. I frequently make mistakes. One thing that I have learned however is if a Rights of Way Ranger asks you if you’re feeling strong, think very carefully before you answer. Unfortunately this is a lesson I’ve learnt the hard way, and too late to turn down the invitation to help build a new footbridge on a footpath running alongside the River Teifi at Henllan.

Given the short hours of winter daylight, Ranger Osian Jones arranged an early start to the day with the timber being delivered to site soon after 8:30am. The delivery driver asking “what time is your machine coming to unload the beams?” was the first indication of the sort of day ahead for Osian, four of his committed volunteers, myself and my sister who had foolishly admitted to having a day off work and had offered to deliver sustaining biscuits.

I thought the 5 meter long, and rather substantial, crossing timbers looked intimidating strapped along the frame on the delivery lorry and I’m sure the driver thought we were crazy to even think about moving the timbers without mechanical assistance. The volunteers obviously didn’t, with two of them and Osian jumping up and beginning to slide the timbers down to us others at ground level. Once off loaded, on a level surface, stable and lined up, the technical stuff could begin with Osian measuring up and a volunteer beginning the drilling.

The next task, and the reason I’d been invited I realised, was to carry each beam the 300m along the path to where we needed to install the bridge. The carry was made easier by the use of timber tongs, working in pairs and the presence of extra pairs of hands to swap in and out, allowing tiring arms and legs to rest without slowing progress. As ever our motivated, skilful and resourceful volunteers made short work of actually constructing and installing the bridge onsite.

The job was completed as daylight began to fade under the beechwood canopy. The journey back to the truck being considerably easier without the bulk of timber we’d had to take with us at the start of the day. As ever, even after a task as tough as this, the buzz of a job well done meant the team finished the day with smiles on faces and a sense of enormous achievement.
Users of this very popular route in Henllan can now cross the stream which cuts across the path without getting wet feet or walking the plank.”

Visit the ‘Walks and Rides’ page on the Council’s website to view the network of public paths offering an excellent way to explore Ceredigion. The diverse countryside offers a range of opportunities for the walker, horse rider and cyclist from gentle coastal walks to rugged mountain hikes www.ceredigion.gov.uk.

For more information about Public Rights of Way, see: http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/resident/coast-countryside/public-rights-of-way/
If you would like to help the Rights of Way Team why not join our Adopt a Path scheme? For more details contact Jill Lowry on 01545 574140 or see: http://www.ceredigion.gov.uk/resident/coast-countryside/public-rights-of-way/adopt-a-path-scheme/