Walking the island’s dramatic coastal footpath is promoted as a must-do attraction for visitors.
But walkers may think they would need a machete to get through some overgrown and near impassable sections of the Raad ny Foillan.
Budget cutbacks in the Department of Infrastructure are being blamed for the footpaths not being maintained as well as might be expected.
Keen walker and ornithologist Allen Moore, who is environmental officer for the Mannin branch of the Celtic League, has taken up the issue with Ministers.
He told the Examiner: ’The DED are promoting the Raad-ny-Foillan for tourism but you wouldn’t expect visitors to need a machete to walk the path.’
In an email to Infrastructure Minister Ray Harmer, Mr Moore wrote: ’The Isle of Man rightly promotes our great scenery and network of footpaths, especially the longer distance routes, of which Raad ny Foillan is the jewel in the crown.
’I appreciate money is in comparative short supply for footpath maintenance.
’However, there are sections of Raad-ny-Foillan which are rather precipitous and which could cause injury or death if not cleared of long vegetation.’
He cited as an example one section of the path about 400 metres west of Santon Head which is close to the top of a cliff and yet has been covered with long grass which might trip a walker, with wet weather adding to the risk.
Andrea Hawley, traffic technician and customer services supervisor in DoI’s highway services, emailed back to confirm that staff are currently in the process of cutting back the vegetation on many footpaths.
He said: ’I appreciate that many of the footpaths have become overgrown, and sadly this is as a result of our limited resources having to be deployed on strategic route maintenance.’
Other badly overgrown sections of the Raad ny Foillan include the path down to Fleshwick bay from Bradda and the stretch through the Port Soderick brooghs.
A spokesman for the DoI said: ’Highway services have been managing a number of competing priorities and have this year committed greater resources to maintenance of the strategic routes including work on white lining these highways as to not undertake these work has implications on road safety.
’The summer growing season is a period of intense work for the department and balancing priorities can be difficult.
’However, the maintenance section has recently committed five teams to undertake works on the public rights of way, and there are currently three crews working in the south of the island.’
He added: ’Highway services currently has a number of vacancies in its maintenance team, filling these vacancies will help to strengthen the team and meet some of the competing priorities.’
Economic Development Minister Laurence Skelly told Mr Moore he would be happy to have DED support a working group to help review maintenance of the footpaths can be improved. He told him: ’There is no doubt these paths are a key asset for our island both for locals and visitors alike. Managing them is a perennial challenge.
’The move to devolving some of the maintenance to local authorities I believe has helped in some areas.
’Wider adoption is worthy of further consideration as I am aware of a community group in my constituency who is interested to adopt some paths.’