The first few weeks have been busy with full range of new experiences. I spent my first week on a Public Rights of Way Law course at Plas Tan y Bwlch. The course happened to be on as I was starting on the scheme. The course has been very essential and valuable because it has given a good opening to the work I will be undertaking. The content of the course had been about the history of footpaths, the closure of footpaths, the diversion of footpaths, and the process of registering new footpaths.
The part of the course I enjoyed the most was looking at different ways of encouraging disabled people into the countryside. One interesting example was that of those who were unable to see very well, for example someone with tunnell vision. They prefer signs with very small writing because this is how they saw better through the tunnel. We also discussed less common disabilities such as motor neurone disease, which can affect nerves and muscles in the body which make it very difficult when footpaths include stiles. This has prompted me to look and develop how we as a council encourage those with disabilities in the countryside.
During the course we had the opportunity to visit a footpath that the Snowdonia National Park Authority had been working on near Rhyd Ddu and how they have adapted well for the use of horse riding. It was very interesting and nice to have a magnificent view of Snowdon.
In the first few weeks I also had an interesting visit to Dorathea Quarry. Dorathea Quarry opened in 1820 and closed in 1970. It was a unique, history-rich place with a lot of character. There is a large deep quarry pool at the site and there are many people that like scuba diving in the quarry pit. They have much adventure visiting on tunnels beneath the water and many have drowned doing this. The reason we visited the quarry was because it was a popular place with people using the walking trails leading around the site. One route led under a tunnel and its condition began to deteriorate because of a significant amount of pressure at the top of the tunnel. The route had therefore been diverted around the tunnel, so that it was safer for the public to walk.
I have learned a lot about the process of diverting footpaths and have seen a unique quarry. I wonder where I will be visiting next? I’m looking forward!