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  • Tonyleigh

    I especially like P8 with it's suggestions for a more standardised vocabulary for surface material and surface condition both of which I've wrestled with

  • David Giles

    I agree the PMGG is a good resource for looking at path grading and I've been trying to you the vocabulary of p8 in writing descriptions.

    I've also been finding it very hard to grade path surfaces (I don't find the images on PInterst helpful). I've ended up with the following principles (basically, grade 1 = PMGG easy, accessible, grade 2 = PMGG easy, grade 3 = PMGG moderate, grade 4 = PMGG strenuous).

    Grade 1. Entirely smooth and compacted surfaces: I've taken this to mean tarmac in good condition or hard, well-compacted, fine gravel in a stable condition. Countryside for all Access Standards suggest surfaces should be "hard and firm with some loose stones and chippings not covering the whole surface. The stones should be no bigger than 10mm" in "rural and working landscapes".

    Grade 2. Mostly smooth and compacted surfaces, but there may be some loose gravel, muddy patches or cobbles: I've taken this to be mostly similar to 1, but allowing a small number (not more than 10) of short sections (typically less than 10m) of loose fine or medium gravel (up to 15mm particle size), shallow mud (not more than 20mm in depth), cobblestones (not more than 20mm in height) or tree roots (not greater than 20mm in height). I believe this matches PMGG Easy which specifies "generally a smooth, firm surface. Well drained and maintained with minimal loose material".

    3. Route includes rough surfaces that may include small boulders, potholes, shallow ruts, loose gravel, short muddy sections: In geology, a boulder is any fragment of rock greater than 265mm in diameter. I think most people imagine a boulder is much larger (rock climbers use them for practice!) and feel its use in this context is confusing. PMGG Moderate specifies "Earth, grass or stone surface. Sections may be firm under foot. Generally well maintained but sections could be loose or uneven (<50 mm height of roughness) or soft after rain". I feel this captures the gist of grade 3 (including the 50mm threshold, used in a similar manner to the 20mm threshold for level 2). It would be reasonable for there to be more of these rough sections, but they should not comprise more than, say, 10% of the whole route.

    Grade 4. Route includes very rough surfaces including deep ruts, steep loose gravel, unmade paths and deep muddy sections. Wheelchair may experience traction/wheel spin issues: I don't understand the reference to wheelchairs here. Such routes are never going to be accessible. I've taken this grade to cover all routes that fail to meet the criteria for grade 3 while not requiring the "correct equipment" specified as a requirement for grade 5. PMGG Strenuous specifies "A distinct surface but could be without major change to the existing ground. Could be rough and rocky. May have muddy sections." In my interpretation, this grade goes beyond the PMGG definition (which only covers paths) to include, for example, dense forest, peat hags, scree and trackless moorland (possibly some of these should be added explicitly to grade 5).

    Grade 5. Route includes technical and arduous terrain where there may be potentially impassable barriers if the correct equipment is not used or barriers which require assistance to overcome. Potential barriers must be photographed and described: I've not encountered any of these. Other text seems to suggest that this grade implies use of hands and equipment (and not just to climb a gate).

    If grades are to be useful to users, we need to work out a way of applying them consistently. I'd welcome comments on whether you feel this is a fair way of establishing grades.


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