How footpath erosion on Pen Y Fan which is a national park, compares to footpath erosion on Cock Marsh

I am trying to find out how footpath erosion on Pen Y Fan which is a national park, compares to footpath erosion on Cock Marsh which is in a village and is not in a national park. The question is ‘how does footpath erosion on Pen Y Fan compare to footpath erosion on Cock Marsh’.

Backround information on Pen Y Fan and the Brecon Beacons

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The Brecon Beacons is a lived and worked in national park. The area within the national park covers 519 square miles. Nearly half of this is 1,000 ft above sea level.

Pen Y Fan is the highest mountain in South Wales and is 2,907 ft above sea level.

The Brecon Beacons also has other peaks such as cribyn and corn Du. the east of the brecon beacons are known as the black mountains. In the far west of the national park is the upland range known as Black Mountain. This is a remote location and has a well-known ridge walk called the beacon horseshoe.

In the south there is a place called waterfall country and in the north is sennybridge. Pen Y Fan has a problem with footpath erosion due to walkers walking over the footpath with heavy walking boots which pulls up mud and vegetation and it falls off in a different area. Also this may get worse and the footpath may widen because the footpath is stoney and the walkers would find the grassy banks easier to walk on so the boots would erode the banks and the process wont stop.

There are many activities that interest people to come to the Brecon Beacons e.g. gorge walking and challenging high ridges for the walkers and cycling etc. these examples all cause erosion. Also the S.A.S trains on the mountains in which they run over the mountains which causes erosion to the footpaths and may cause more footpaths if the run on different routes. While we were working on Pen Y Fan 92 people walked past on the footpath including ourselves, and on Cock Marsh over 20 walkers walked past. Pen Y Fan is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the Brecon Beacons, it draws nearly 100,000 people a year.

Backround information on Cock Marsh.

Cock Marsh is located in Bourne End, Buckinghamshire and is by the river Thames. Which would attract more people to the footpath so they could see the river and enjoy leisure activities.

Backround information on the earths soil erosion problems worldwide.

Six to eight inches of topsoil is all that stands between much of the world and starvation. Yet each year a huge amount of agricultural land is lost to erosion, Stalinization (the accumulation of salt in water or soil), and other forms of soil degradation. Less topsoil means less food: degraded soils have lowered global yields by 13 percent since World War 2. Soil scientist Hari Eswaren, chair of an international working group on land degradation, calls it “the root of all socio-economic problems” in developing nations.

Maps

Aims

The aims of this fieldwork is to:

* Measure the depth and width of the footpath in a national park called brecon beacons on pen y fan.

*Measure the depth and width of the footpath in bourne end on Cock Marsh.

*Compare the amount of footpath erosion at both sites and think of ways to slow them down.

*Measure the angle of slope and the amount of vegetation on both paths.

Location

Pen Y Fan is located in a national park called the Brecon Beacons, which is in Wales. Cock Marsh is located in the village Bourne end which is in Buckinghamshire England.

Map of national parks in south Wales. Map to show accessibility to the Brecon Beacons

insert map here

Methodology

The purpose of this study is to find out how footpath erosion on pen y fan compares to footpath erosion on cock marsh. The study is located on pen y fan in the Brecon beacons in Wales and also in Bourne end on Cock Marsh in High Wycombe, England. The primary data that I collected for this coursework were measurements of width and depth for the footpaths, and clinometer readings for the angle of the slope of the footpath this is the best way to measure the angle of the footpath of the tools that we had. Primary data was also collected using a quadrat. This was used by randomly throwing the quadrat at different points on the footpath to see what percentage of the 100 squares were filled with grass, vegetation, soil or stones.

This information helps me answer the main question because with this information in graphs, like the footpath transect it is a lot easier to compare the depth of them. I collected secondary data mainly from the Internet like maps and information. I also used books. I collected the information so that I could do the coursework and have accurate results. I measured the footpaths depth and width using a ruler and tape measure by holding the tape measure tort from one bank to the other and then measuring the depth from the tape measure to the ground using the ruler every 10 cm. Other data that might have been useful would be to measure the erosion around the footpath to see whether the walkers might have found the path to be stony and unpleasant and would rather walk on the grass. A quadrat would be used to measure this. I think that my work shows my own ideas. At Pen Y Fan and at Cock Marsh the measurements for width, depth, and angle of slope and quadrat readings were taken at 5 different points along the footpath about 20 – 40 metres apart.

Accessability for Pen Y Fan

Pen Y Fan is easily accessed by the A470 main road. You can turn into a car park, which is signposted on the main road.

Accessibility of Cock Marsh

The accessibility of cock marsh is good if you are on foot as there are a lot of footpaths, but if you want to drive there then the nearest car park is on the other side of the river, which is the sailing club car park. There is a bridge, which you can go over to get to cock marsh from the Thames path. You can also access Cock Marsh with the use of a boat, as there are jetties close to cock marsh to the North.

Map in folder goes here dumbass.

Data Interpretation.

We conducted the first study at Pen y Fan. We measured the width and depth of the footpath at different points up the slope. We took clinometer readings and quadrat estimates. We did the same as this at Cock Marsh. On both tests we counted the amount of people walking down the path. For Pen Y Fan it was 92 people including us, and on Cock Marsh it was 12 people including us (4) and 6 dogs. We were at both sites for about the same amount of time (around 5 hours). My information shows that the footpath at Pen Y Fan was wider than the Cock Marsh footpath (see footpath transects).

My data from the quadrat shows that cock marsh has more grass on the left of the footpath than Pen Y Fan, but Pen Y Fan has more grass on the right and in the centre. Also my data shows that Pen Y Fan has more stones on the left and centre while Cock Marsh has more stones on the right. My data also shows that Pen Y Fan has more soil on the left and right, and Cock Marsh has more soil in the centre (see quadrat readings).

In simpler terms the last sentence shows that Pen Y fan has more grass and stones and soil than Cock Marsh has. These results were achieved by adding together all the numbers of squares from the quadrat from Pen Y Fan and comparing them to the amount of squares on Cock Marsh e.g. to see which path has got more grass on the left, you would simply add all the numbers of squares (or percentages, because the quadrat has 100 squares) for Pen Y Fan and Cock Marsh and compare them. My data from the footpath transects shows that the Pen Y fan footpath gets deeper as it goes up the slope, while the Cock Marsh footpath starts off deep, then goes shallow, then goes a lot deeper, and then gets shallower. My data interpretation shows that footpath erosion is more severe on the Pen Y Fan footpath because:

*More people walk up it.

*The footpath is wider.

*The footpath has more stones while the surrounding area has only grass and soil and very little stones. This shows that the stones have been uncovered as the hikers have lifted up the mud and grass with their hiking boots and taken it further up or down the Pen Y Fan footpath.

*The problem may persist in the future because Pen Y Fan is so easily accessed from a main road, while the Cock Marsh footpath is not as easily accessed from a main road.

*Also Pen Y Fan is a site for school geography fieldtrips. As a Wye Valley class goes there every year, and while we were there, there was another fieldwork class there but they were from a different school, so there could be people going to the Pen Y Fan footpath from different schools as well.

Conclusion

Now that I have all my primary data and secondary data, I have come to my conclusion. Footpath erosion is severe on both footpaths, but more so on Pen Y Fan. This conclusion is met by using the data I have collected. The data shows that more people walk up Pen Y Fan, around 100,000 people a year according to the bbc website, and the footpath has been eroded deeper and is starting to erode around the sides of the footpath. This is because people do not want to walk on the stony footpaths and would rather walk on the side because it is grassy and more comfortable. But this is a problem because the banks will be eroded from the hiking boots and the path will get bigger.

The walkers need to know that by walking on the sides of the footpath, you will make it bigger and bigger and cause further problems, like not being able to drain the water properly which would erode the banks quicker. The walkers could be told to use only the footpath on Pen Y Fan and Cock Marsh by a sign at the start of the footpath or explaining the problems of footpath erosion on the walker’s websites. The national geographic has already explained the dangers of erosion of topsoil and the erosion of footpaths will add to the list of the reasons why it needs to be prevented.

Evaluation

I think that my fieldwork was good and of a respectable standard. However, if I were to do it again I think there would be some additions and some changes that I would make. In the backround information section I would try to find out more about Cock Marsh. In the data presentation section I would have tried to include more different graphs. Also I would have made another test on both Pen Y Fan and Cock marsh to compare the differences about a week later. This would show which footpath is eroding quicker. Overall I would have more photos that I took on the fieldwork trip, but my camera broke during the study, luckily I still have some photos. I found that the fieldwork was hard in most places. I found this fieldwork enquiry quite enjoyable because I found out a lot of information I didn’t know about footpath erosion, like there are only 6 – 8 inches of vital topsoil in most of the world, and erosion is making that less. I think that I have answered what I set out to do.

I think that my investigation did all it was supposed to. The data that was most useful to my investigation were the footpath transects to show the depth of the footpath because you could easily compare the depth of the Pen Y Fan footpath to the depth of the Cock Marsh footpath. The least useful information was the clinometer readings because the angle of slope was not as important as the depth and width and vegetation of the footpath. Other information that would have been useful would be more photos to show the footpath, also to know the vegetation around the footpath would have been useful because then I would know whether people are trying to escape the rocks on the footpath and walking to the side of the footpath.

I think that my results were quite accurate, but not exactly accurate, because the data that I collected was only in one day and by the time this fieldwork is handed in the data may have changed, as more people would be walking up and down the footpaths. I think that to answer my original question “how footpath erosion on Pen Y Fan compares to footpath erosion on Cock Marsh” I collected enough information without any problems. To each technique there are disadvantages, such as the quadrat data collection technique you cannot get an exact reading because half of the square may be full of grass and the other half may be full of stone.

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