[5th World Trails Conference 2015] Keynote Speech | ‘To Go Far, We Walk Together’ | Bob Searns

5th World Trails Conference 2015

keynote speech | ‘to go far we walk together’

Bob Searns –  American Trails Chairman Emeritus, The Owner of the Greenway Team, Inc. (USA)

Thursday, January 15, 2015, Seogwipo ICC

 Presentation Slides Download (PDF)

This morning I want to talk about a few things, but I want to start off with epic moments in our lives that really got us into what we all do and I was sitting here at the table with my colleagues from Canada and it turns out I grew up very near Toronto in Canada and just north of there is a place called Algonquin Provincial Park which is a huge land there where people go and there are no motorized vehicles allowed. You travel by canoe under your own power or you hike and when I was a teenager I was a guide for canoe trips up there in Canada. I would pick people up and we would got for a day out into the wilderness. When you’re out there you can hear the loons. For those of you who are not familiar they are the wonderful water bird that have this amazing call. I remember one night I was sitting at the camp site and the fire was going and across the lake. My Canadian friends can relate to this. You can hear those loons calling and that was an epiphanic moment for me and by epiphany it means one of those moments lightening strikes you and you realize what your calling in life is. I realized that at that moment I was a 17 year old kid and really my calling was to connect with nature and connect people with nature.

So I am going to talk a little bit along those lines about epic moments and how we fit into this ancient chain of events that has brought us to where we are and what we’re all doing and world wide.

Then we’ll start by talking about 7 epic moments that I see, and has a North American perspective, but hopefully I have a global aspect to this, but there has been a process of evolution in the trails movement and I want to start with some of the commentary by writer, a Scottish writer, Robert Mcfarlane, about the ancients ways and the old ways. He has a great book out called The Old Ways and what really struck me about what he said and this is in Europe is that we in those times centuries ago there was an ethic. It was okay to have rights of way. It was okay to travel across landscapes and particular in Scandinavia there was always a right of passage that exist to this day. That all land is considered everybody’s land. It means ‘every man’s right’ (Allemansrätten in Swedish). The right of any citizen to walk anywhere on uncultivated land providing he does no harm. To ramble, to sleep, to light a camp fire, to swim in the steam, to pick nuts and berries. I think in many ways we all still embody that tradition in what we’re doing. And maybe this is probably because Scandinavia didn’t have a history of feudalism where there was a land owning class that dominated the landscape and kept people out. But in more recent times there has been a return to this inspired by that notion across Europe and places like Jeju Olle. Hopefully in the US we’ll begin to see more of a notion of having these places where anybody can walk and visit. Pathways are all about freedom. The ability to move and travel on the landscape. Having those central corridors that is a priceless thing that we have. That’s one of the things that happened.

Another is the notion of the sacred walk. And I learned actually talking to my colleagues from Japan about the Kumano Kodo that’s an ancient pilgrimage in Japan that goes back to the 9th Century so that has been around for a while. And of course just about all of us in the room are familiar with the Camino De Santiago across Spain and how it has inspired people worldwide to emulate those ideas and those those kind of things happen. That goes back over a thousand years too. And that is a religious pilgrimage. People to the tomb of the apostle Saint James because the relics there were considered very important in Christianity and people traveled from France and Central Europe and they crossed Northern Spain. I have been there too. I have still got to do to the whole thing. It is on my bucket list.

But that was all about spiritual reward of getting to that destination, but it wasn’t so much in reality the destination as it was the journey. And it eventually had a guidebook. They had one back there in 1139 that would guide pilgrims along that corridor. This led to commercial routes and it also led to economic prosperity along those corridors. That seems to be happening again too.  I think we want to be convincing our leaders and our nations of the economic prosperity that comes with trails and coming back again the tradition of pilgrimage has not ceased. It is expanding. Actually back about 30 years ago it became a cultural itinerary and now again thousands and thousands of people are finding this route. It has just grown explosively. 2,400 people in 1985. More than a quarter of a million did it more recently. So really the other thing that trails are about are pilgrimage. And there is a revival we’re seeing. There’s a movie coming out in the US. How many of heard of Wild or read the book? The movie is coming out about a woman who had issues with drugs and marriage problems. She just went out and just started this journey along the Pacific Crest Trail. That pilgrimage brought her an epiphany and a form of salvation.

So that kind of implies the notion of pilgrim rules. A Czech writer, Vaclav Cilek, talked about the rule of resonance that we think about and those are places. Maybe our secret spots where we stop and individually and personally relate to that spot. It is not a great mass pilgrimage of all the people going together to one destination. But it is each of us going out and finding our spot in that place. That’s more important to us than anybody else. To me it was that campfire on that Lake in Algonquin Park with the Loons calling. The is also the rule of correspondence, a place within a landscape that corresponds to a place within the heart.

And then one of the things that happened in another epic moment for us. This was in North America. During the Great Depression of the 1930s Franklin Roosevelt who was president of the time created a youth corp. During that time people were unemployed. They were out on the streets.  There was fear of violence. They were really afraid that our democracy would be overthrown because of disgruntled people, particularly young people. His plan was to get these kids out in the woods working on the landscape. They’d never thought of that before in North American and so created the Civilian Conservation Corps and these kids would leave their towns and they would  go and live in the woods, in tents and cabins. They would get $25 or $30 and they would have to send $25 home to their families and people were desperate then so that meant a lot. They planted nearly 3 billion trees to help reforest America and more than 800 parks were built nationwide by the CCC. They constructed 47,000KM of trails on public lands and that legacy is the trail infrastructure on the forest lands in the US today. It was one of those kind of visions and other nations have had similar visions or will have similar visions. Especially in tough economic times as a way not only to get some kids off the street, but by living in the woods it instills a sense of stewardship and connection and that resonance with those landscapes. That is important.

Another epic moment from my perspective was the rails to trails movement. With abandoned rail lines being converted into trails. And the first one was in 1965, 50 years ago. A rail trail was converted into a recreational trail and it was a boom to the economy in Wisconsin. Some laws were passed in the US to help facilitate that where if a rail line was abandoned it wouldn’t just revert back to the original owners of the land. It stayed. It had value as a right of way for fiber optic, utilities, or future rail user transit. This rule and this technique can apply to any nation and those opportunities are there. The RTT was the advocacy organization. We need to get them participating in our group. They have been promoting rail trails. This has occured in other places. This is one in Japan. There is one in France. So the RT movement is picking up momentum. Continue reading [5th World Trails Conference 2015] Keynote Speech | ‘To Go Far, We Walk Together’ | Bob Searns

[5th World Trails Conference 2015] Trail Resuscitation and Restoration (1) | Western Australia | Trail revitalizing case study from Western Australia

 5th World Trails Conference 2015


Western Australia | Trail revitalizing case study from Western Australia

 Kerstin Stender –  Trails Coordinator, Bibbulmun Track / MundaBiddi Trail 

Thursday, January 15, 2015, Seogwipo ICC

Presentation Slides Download (PDF)

Thank you for inviting me here today. It is such a pleasure to speak to you all.

I am from Western Australia and work for the Department of Parks and Wildlife. I am the trails coordinator there so if you wish to come to Australia it is a very big country and the climate changes quite a lot, so make sure if you want to come hiking in Western Australia to come in autumn or spring-time.

I represent three long distance iconic trails, but I am also responsible for policy for another 600 trails in the state of Western Australia. The Bibbulmun Track and Cape to Cape Track are two walking trails and I will primarily talk about those. The Cape to Cape Track is a track that I am currently in a revitalizing program with so most of my examples will come from that, but because I am only halfway through I am also using examples from the other two trails [Munda Biddi is the third trail].

First I’ll give you some instructions on how to develop a framework and then we will look at organizational structures. Branding and signage. Trail infrastructure itself.


The trail development and revival process is essentially the same process as if you were developing something new or if you are making some major changes like major re-alignment or a major change to how the trail looks.

So some of the key elements of trail development and review process are the essential components to have what makes a trail a sustainable trail. And these are:

1) Long term appeal

2) Positive impact on the environment and heritage

3) Valued and supported by local community

4) Robust, durable and fit for purpose

5) Well managed and maintained

6) Acceptable to land managers

7) Complies with standards

The process you go through before commencing construction for me it takes about 3 quarters of the time for planning. So developing the proposal and setting up your framework and your framework includes a project outline. A key understanding of your project objectives, your stakeholders, your roles, your requirements, and execution. It also includes your management models so I guess it is really the key part of any new project but also any revision to any realignments you’re looking to do to ensure that you’re looking to build or maintain the right trail in the right place. You then move through to site assessment, concept planning, evaluation until you finally get to construction and management. But I think you often shortcut and not end up with the right trail in the right place.

Moving on now after the framework we need to look to see what are the key aspects of a chosen management model. These aspects I’ve identified here are things that every trail should consider to be a successful and sustainable trail.

Visitor Information, product is your trail and destination is your community environment. The roads, the accommodation, and transportation services. Marketing promotion, visitor management, infrastructure and community engagement. Without community support your trail is unlikely to survive.

So in Western Australia we tend to manage our trails through partnership between government and community not-for-profit organizations. I’m the government department.We have a MOU that sets out who is responsible for that, so really the visitor risk and infrastructure is primarily the responsibility of the government. The community engagement, the volunteer maintenance program and some of the visitor information tends to sit with the community partner.

Now moving on into the actual review. Signage is an essential aspect of any trail and provides added identification through naming and branding color and design. It directs visitors and aids them, aids in minimizing environmental impact. It also provides interpretation for cultural and environmental behavior codes.

These are the types of signs and I’ll take you through them very briefly. Before we do that though the first thing we do is for each trail we have we set up a signage prescription. The color, the design, the logo and the types of signs that we would use so that they are always the same and recognizable for that trail.

So for an example this is the logo we use for the Munda Biddi trail. The center piece is the logo that we use for the community partner. And on the right side you can actually see the logo that we have out in the field on the post. You can see the branding across all three of those.

On this example which is from my current review you can see the logo that we use on the left the community partner in the middle and the actual marker that you see out in the field on the right and you can see that they are different so what we want to do is have one kind of branding that goes across all of those. I have brought a marker to show you because the other thing that is good about markers is if they are directions. With that one there you can point to the direction of travel.

We use aluminium screen printing to make the trail markers last a very long time. So we don’t need to replace them more than every 10 years or more.

For walking trails we only mark every 500m if there is no turning off opportunity. The cycling trails we mark every 1000m because we don’t want too many signs out there. That is in our view sufficient. Continue reading [5th World Trails Conference 2015] Trail Resuscitation and Restoration (1) | Western Australia | Trail revitalizing case study from Western Australia

[5th World Trails Conference 2015] Trail Resuscitation and Restoration (2) | Hadrian’s Wall Path | The Challenge of Managing Visitors and Archaeology

5th World Trails Conference 2015

#101 Concurrent Session | Trail Resuscitation and Restoration (2)

Hadrian’s Wall Path | The Challenge of Managing Visitors and Archaeology

 David  McGlade – National Trail and Volunteer Officer

Thursday, January 15, 2015, Seogwipo ICC

Presentation Slides Download (PDF)

It gives me great pleasure to talk to you today about my 20 year project on Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail.

So carrying capacity and Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail – the challenge of managing visitors and archaeology.

Hadrian’s Wall Path follows the line of Hadrian’s Wall in the north of England.

Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site. Hadrian’s Wall is an ancient monument of international significance. The wall was constructed in 122 AD under the orders of the emperor Hadrian and it marked the northern limit of the Roman Empire.

80 Roman miles long long it was a complex structure with forts, mile castles, defensive ditches and roads.

We have two ariel views of the wall showing a mile castle, the smaller turret.

The Roman occupation of Britain ended in 410 AD but the Wall has left a permanent mark on the physical and social landscape of Britain.

In 1987 UNESCO recognized its importance in world history by awarding it World Heritage status. That has helped to promote the Wall as a tourism destination.

And today there are now 14 National Trails in England and Wales totaling over 3,500 KM.

I would like to show you some general views showing Hadrian’s Wall and National Trails at their very best.

This is the World Famous Houseteads Roman Fort in the middle of the wall.

And some more views of the wall and the national trail alongside it.

Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site is one of the most legally ‘protected’ landscapes in the world. However, the 1,900 year old Wall and its associated archaeological earthworks without appropriate management are easily damaged.

Sections of the wall will actually collapse if people are allowed to walk on top of it. Here we see erosion in 1991. This was before the national trail was established. This is actual damage to the archaeology of Hadrian’s Wall.

Here we have drainage problems where visitors are forced to walk on top of a monument.

And I ask the question: ‘Is this much damage acceptable or is it damage at all?’

Or is the answer to construct engineered paths everywhere?

Why then if the wall is so sensitive why develop Hadrian’s Wall Path?

In 1984 it was suggested that the best way of reducing the risk of erosion and damage to the wall was to spread visitors over a much wider area.

A 135km walking route was researched and subjected to considerable archaeological scrutiny. It received government approval in 1994 and finally opened in May 2003.

However, there was a condition. The government insisted that the trail’s clear aim is to manage it as a green sward (which means a ‘grass path’).

In the World Heritage Site Management Plan it states: ‘Hadrian’s Wall Path National Trail should be proactively managed primarily as a grass sward surface to protect the archaeology underfoot and the setting of the World Heritage Site’.

Now a green grass sward path like this one. But not like this. And this is the same site.

A beautiful green sward path like this? And the same site in winter like this. In an area in winter soils become water logged.

So why is it important to maintain the green sward path?

The answer is because everywhere underfoot there is the likely-hood of finding archaeology. A green sward is considered the best way for both the archaeology as well as the landscape setting of Hadrian’s Wall itself.

Here are some examples of what I call near-surface archaeology.

It might not look like very much, but it is archaeology.

And in this picture this is all that remains of Hadrian’s Wall. There’s even less in this picture.

Remember the wet area in the earlier slide? We accidentally came across a Roman well. So everywhere there is the likely-hood of finding archaeology.

So carrying capacity. Archaeological earthworks, high rainfall and large numbers of people conflict with each other it is impossible to say how many people the landscape can take before their is damage and we believe it is much better to achieve consensus of all organizations by defining and working towards the agreed quality standards.

So let’s just reflect on a moment. I have some photos of Hadrian’s Wall taken in the 1890s. And I the same views today. I just wonder will the Wall look the same in another 100 years time.

A photo in the 1890s. And today.

It really hasn’t changed much at all.

Another view from the 1890s.

Nothing has changed. Even the sheep are still there on the hillside.

Continue reading [5th World Trails Conference 2015] Trail Resuscitation and Restoration (2) | Hadrian’s Wall Path | The Challenge of Managing Visitors and Archaeology