Ken Thomson and I attended the COAT AGM in Ballater on Thursday 11th October. After a welcome from the Chairman, Peter Ord, Dougie Baird gave an Introduction and Summary of the key achievements for 2011/2012 and then each of the officers gave a presentation on what had been achieved in their individual areas. There is no doubt that there was much to be pleased about. These areas are summarized below:-
The first survey results from the Adopt-A-Path scheme have started to come in and repairs have been carried out at
A workshop has been arranged for February 2013 to prioritise path repairs on the other side of the Cairngorms with the intention of applying for funding in 2013 for this work. Clearly, we need to be careful to avoid over-enthusiastic repair work where, e.g. light touch would be more appropriate. However, for the next few years, this is unlikely to be a problem as there are some serious areas of degradation, undeniably in need of repair, and only limited funds.
Interestingly, COAT features in the Park Plans but as a generator of income for the area rather than as a repairer of eroded footpaths. Some of this theme came out at the AGM. We are pleased to see activity generated in the Park and believe that leveraging income from outside the area will be important for the future. However, we must be careful that the raison d'être doesn't move from path repair and maintenance (and creation of selected lowland paths) to generation of economic activity. That would truly be the cart before the horse.
COAT Training day Glas allt Shiel © Chris York
Now to more interesting things. Have you been involved in surveying a path? I found that my two trips to the southern half of Jock's Road have been hugely enjoyable. Apparently good weather can be guaranteed with suitable notice - maybe it's more to do with only going surveying when the sun is shining? In contrast to the early rise and long car journey needed for a west coast outing, path surveying can be started after a leisurely breakfast.
If you chose your path carefully, you can get to revisit a part of the area
that you haven't been to for a few years, one that you maybe wouldn't visit
unless you were path surveying. It's ideal for taking along non-hill walking
friends as, by definition, the walk will be on a path and "heather bashing"
won't be necessary. There will be some grossly eroded sections on many paths
but these are comparatively few and even the least active shouldn't be put off.
Taking condition notes and photographs gives a focal point for the outward journey
and a bit of drain cleaning on the way back breaks things up. You might even
end up converting your survey partner to an actual hill walk...
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