Learn to design, construct, maintain and repair rural footpaths and informal paths in urban areas

This handbook is for conservation volunteers and path workers who are involved in the design, construction, maintenance and repair of footpaths.

It contains everything you need to know about path work – the history of paths and tracks, the law, how to design a path, construct a path, deal with drainage and what surfacing to choose.

The handbooks goes into further detail about path features, like boardwalks, bridges, steps, stiles and gates, as well as how to deal with erosion and vegetation.

What to expect

Footpath subjects

Background info

Measuring a path profile

Loads of background information – path history, their use and the law, surveying, design, tools and equipment, as well as health and safety.

Constructing a footpath

Stone cut off drain

Clear, fully illustrated, step-by-step instructions on all aspects of creating a footpath – path clearance, drainage, surfacing and much more.

Footpath features

Schematic of timber steps

Design and construction of footpath features such as boardwalks, bridges, stiles, steps and gates, waymarking, vegetation restoration and so on.

Footpaths: a practical handbook – chapters

The original, printed TCV handbook “Footpaths, a practical handbook” contained 216 pages. Every one of these pages is included in these digital versions.

A brief introduction to the craft of dry stone walling.

A look at paths and track in history, public access and recreation.

A brief guide to the many laws relevant to public rights of way.

Recording the current condition of paths using different types of survey methods, as well as potential problems and remedies.

A variety of topics concerned with the design and appearance of paths, and the way in which people use them.

A look at heath and safety aspects of footpath work, as well as clothing, tools, machinery and organisation.

How to carry out path clearance for a variety of reasons.

A detailed look at drainage – the cause of most problems in path management – along with a variety of solutions.

Surfacing material – where it’s needed and how to place it when the natural surface is damaged or needs protecting.

Detailed instructions on how to build footbridges and boardwalks.

How to decide if steps are necessary. If they are, this chapter shows you how to design and build them to last.

Erosion is a serious problem on many popular paths. Here’s how to recognise erosion, deal with it and restore vegetation – the perfect control agent against erosion.

Recommended dimensions for stiles, gates and barriers, with suggested designs, materials and methods of construction.

Techniques and organisation of waymarking and the construction and erection of simple signposts.

A list of manufacturers and suppliers of materials used in and around footpaths.

A quick look at the timbers and preservatives used in footpath work.

A list of the publications referred to in the text, as well as others relevant to the subject of footpaths.

What is in the handbooks?

Step by step

All the processes in the handbooks are explained in easy to follow language, using step-by-step guides that are ideal for all levels.

Clearly Illustrated

Over 2,000 helpful illustrations accompany the text, adding clarity.


The handbooks cover all the topics you need to improve your skills and knowledge.


Written by conservation experts, the handbooks are highly valued by users across the conservation sector.