Community view: Community digs in to improve paths

Rob Jackson, CREOS, was part of a community team who restored paths near Crouch End playing fields.

Rob Jackson, CREOS, was part of a community team who restored paths near Crouch End playing fields. - Credit: Archant

We’ve come to walk down the ‘yellow brick road’. Is this the way to Oz?” asks a path walker.

Earlier this year the local paths near the Crouch End playing fields had become impassable with the incessant rain. Walkers had to make detours around the muddy tracks, trampling wildlife habitats.

One of the main connecting paths known as the Boundary Oak Walk, had become a quagmire and needed urgent restoration. The local conservation charity CREOS (Crouch End Open Space), which maintains and protects the wooded area behind Wood Vale, set to work.

It was a real community effort, giving a sense of purpose to those who had lost their jobs, university places or chances to socialise due to the pandemic. For some, all the shovelling and spadework was a welcome break while the gyms were closed during lockdown.

The first task was to remove the rotting rain-soaked wood chips to allow the path to drain. Then paths were widened, new log edges laid, drainage ditches dug alongside leading to two underground drainage pipes taking all future rainfall away from the surface.

As a foundation we re-used rubble and old bricks from a local building site. Overall ten tonnes of aggregate were to be laid. Work had to be halted during the first lockdown period but when restrictions eased in July we could complete the job.

The climax occurred in mid August when 20 tonnes of hoggin were delivered to an awaiting team of Good Gym and local volunteers with barrows and shovels. A whacking plate was hired to flatten and compress the finished surface. People like Bob and David pitched in, using skills from careers as diverse as banking and road-building. Warm thanks and praise from passers-by cheered them on.

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“It’s saved us in Covid times. You’re doing a great job.”

“Thank you for all these lovely paths; we’re really enjoying them.”

“We really appreciate all the work you’ve been doing: this path was a quagmire last winter”.

The cost of materials was considerable and CREOS is most grateful to the many people who responded to our crowdfunding appeal to raise funds for the project. The appeal raised £1,340, supplemented by £1,000 from CREOS’ own funds.

The new path is now renovated and weatherproofed to withstand the rigours of this winter’s weather!

And the importance of our local green spaces are being highlighted by the restrictions caused by the pandemic. More than ever they are proving to be a vital place where we can take daily exercise while enjoying the peaceful surrounding of trees, plants and wildlife.

While we all look forward to life returning to normal, we hope everyone will continue to enjoy the green spaces on our doorstep.

If you would like to contribute to CREOS in any way, please visit our website for information on how you can get involved. We have now resumed our monthly workdays to maintain this local green space ( and any help is welcome, as are financial contributions!