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National Trust advises park wardens in southern France on path issues.

In May 2009 I travelled to the Drome district in southern France as part of a group representing the National Trust to give advice to local land managers on how to tackle their footpath problems.




Erosion.

Many of the paths in the area suffer from erosion due to poor drainage and path alignment. In this particular situation stone pitching was recommended.


Path Braiding.

As a path becomes eroded it is abandoned and another one is made. This results in multiple paths known as braiding. A solution suggested was to take the path off to the left at a more sustainable grade and to rehabilitate the braided path using turf and soil gained from constructing the new path.


Mortared Tread.

Some techniques employed in the past, such as using mortar in the tread, have had mixed results. Shown here, the tread is crumbling possibly due to the action of freeze/thawing.


The 'Three Beaks'.
Due to its popularity, the 'Three Beaks' area is suffering from braiding and erosion. Suggested solutions included redesigning the paths using benching and switchback techniques, along with stone pitching in some sections. Drains, grade dips and other water diverting structures were also recommended. 




The visiting National Trust advisers found their trip enjoyable and rewarding thanks to the Drome wardens' warm hospitality and interest in their ideas.