fpprobs Peak & Northern Footpaths Society – Volunteer



Volunteering for us could be as easy as telling us about a problem in your local area.

We currently have more than 180 volunteers across our region, working to protect and improve the footpath network including bridleways and other public rights of way.

Three volunteers with digging tools next to the footpath sign they've just planted.

Ways to get involved

We have a range of roles for volunteers, both indoors and outdoors. You don’t have to trudge through muddy fields to help but, if you don't mind that sort of thing, we definitely offer that option!

A great way to start is as a Path Checker or a Footpath Inspector. Path Checkers report any faults they find when out walking anywhere in our region. Footpath Inspectors cover a particular area, identifying problems and reporting them to the highway authority for action.

If you have knowledge of footpath law or the planning applications system, or would like to be trained in thesesubjects and want to get involved, our Courts and Inquiries team would love to hear from you.

For people who can commit to a few hours a week on a regular basis, we have many opportunities in other voluntary roles. For example, we welcome general administration support as well as volunteers with experience in publicity to help us promote the work of the Society with the press and via social media. Another important area is to look after and keep our footpath archive and keep it up to date, as this is an invaluable asset which is constantly in use.

All of our volunteer opportunities are detailed below. Please click on the role title for full details.

Why volunteer?

  • Do something of value for walkers and all other footpath* users
  • Help to keep footpaths* open
  • See the results – a new sign, a way cleared, a flawed planning proposal rejected…
  • Get personal satisfaction from getting things done
  • Enjoy the outdoors and help others to enjoy it too
  • Learn about something new
  • Meet other like-minded people.

* Including bridleways and other public rights of way

We support all volunteers and offer:

Training and induction

Volunteers receive full training in their role working alongside other experienced volunteers.

Advice and support

There's a wealth of experience and knowledge in the Society, and we encourage you to ask for advice and support if you’re unsure about anything. This may come from Area Officers or from other experienced volunteers.


Volunteers can claim all expenses incurred when they're doing work on our behalf.

In return, as a Society we ask all volunteers to become members, to take their role as a volunteer seriously, and to take responsibility for acting in accordance with the aims of the Society when they are working for us.

Every voluntary role in detail

Could you volunteer as a Footpath Inspector?

Footpath Inspectors are our eyes and ears in an area where they are keen to protect public rights of way.

A Footpath Inspector examining a rotted wooden step on a stile We'd love to hear from you if you can say yes to the following:
  • You're keen to help us preserve and improve open spaces, public access rights and rights of way
  • You're willing and able to commit time to walking footpaths in an agreed parish or district
  • You're physically fit enough to walk paths, sometimes in hilly areas
  • You can map read accurately, with or without the help of a gps device
  • You're willing to acquire an understanding of basic footpath law with training from us.

It’s very satisfying reporting a problem and then going back a few months later to find a new stile or signpost which has been repaired and cleaned

Footpath Inspector

When allocated an area Footpath Inspectors:
  • Walk the paths in that area and get to know them, at least once every two years
  • Record your footpath inspections on our Footpath Inspections Database
  • Report footpath faults to the relevant Highway Authority, monitor their response and communicate with us when that response isn't adequate
  • Comment on any proposed FP diversions, closures or creations if requested to do so
  • Respond to reports from Path Checkers in your area.
How much time does this involve?
You can carry out these roles very flexibly. You work at your own pace and in your own time.

What experience or skills are needed?
All you need is a love of walking and a willingness to report problems. You need to be able to map read accurately and have access to a computer to record your inspections.

What are the most common problems?
Broken stiles, obstructions, misleading signs and poor surface conditions are typical problems. You can see examples of them here.

Being a Footpath Inspector is like walking with an extra purpose

Richard B
Footpath Inspector

To register your interest as a Footpath (ROW) Inspector, please use the appropriate email link on our General enquiries page.

Protect your freedom to roam by becoming a Path Checker

Path Checkers report problems they come across on any footpath in our region – Lancashire, West Yorkshire, Merseyside, Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire, Cheshire, Derbyshire and Staffordshire.

Two Path Checkers on a sunny autumn walk ready to note any problems

We can be informed of issues by email, using the form in this website or, easiest of all, by using our Path Checker app on your phone. We do our best to get the problem sorted and contact you about the progress we’ve made.

This role might suit you if:
  • You’d like to tell us about footpath problems you encounter wherever they are (within our region)
  • You’d rather not focus on a particular area
  • You’d like us to follow up the problems.

Path Checker app

Path Checker app logo

Our Path Checker app is designed to be used when a problem is found on a path. It shows the grid reference for the location and allows you to record details about the issue and select an existing or new photograph. Then you hit Submit to send it all to us.

Two other features are available via two icons at the bottom of the screen: 

  • Map shows our signposts and bridges via standard location icons – selecting one of these icons shows a photograph of the signpost/bridge along with its details
  • PNFS provides links to this website.

The app is completely FREE to download and use. Please choose a link below to download it to your device.

Apple Android

I’ve enjoyed getting to know the area I cover. I thought I knew it before I started but I’ve found all sorts of nooks and crannies I never realised were there

Path Checker

To register your interest as a Path Checker, please use the appropriate email link on our General enquiries page.

Our Area Officers have oversight of our activities within one of the PNFS areas. You would coordinate the work of the Inspectors in your area, mentor new Inspectors and be the first point of contact for them.

Two hands holding an Ordnance Survey map and a compass The Footpath Inspections Database will be the main source of your information about the rights of way in your area. You will oversee our response to Path Checker reports. You liaise with the relevant Highway Authority (or uthorities) about any changes to the footpath network and follow up on our response to any footpath faults which remain unresolved for an unacceptable length of time.

If there's a Local Access Forum or a Rights of Way Forum in your area, you'll represent PNFS at these meetings (online or in person).

Who will I work with?
You'll have a team of Footpath Inspectors who'll be monitoring paths in your area. You'll work with Courts and Inquiries Officers to agree our response to persistent footpath problems. You'll also be working with the Footpath Inspections Coordinator.

How much time does this involve?
You'll be able to use your discretion about how much time you spend on these duties, but on average the role will require approximately four or five hours a week.

What experience and skills do I need?
You'll need to be good at supporting and motivating the volunteers in your area, and must be systematic about keeping records. You'll need good negotiating skills, and sometimes you will have to be determined and persistent in seeking to rectify issues on the rights of way network. Some knowledge of rights of way law is useful, but if you need to know more, we'll provide training and support.

To register your interest in becoming an Area Officer, please use the appropriate email link on our General enquiries page.

Since 1905 Peak & Northern Footpaths Society have been installing and maintaining our green signposts. Currently we have over 500 signposts, fingerposts and plaques, and also two toposcopes.

Four members of the signpost team taking a sign to its installation location

Our signposts are often the means by which people first get to know about the Society – our silent ambassadors – hence our recent policy of spreading them far and wide.

The Signpost Officer and their Team select sites for new signposts, requests landowners’ permission and deal with all aspects of the design, painting, assembly and erection of the signposts. In addition, they inspect and maintain existing signposts. This involves cleaning, re-painting, repairing and sometimes retrieving or replacing them.

The Signpost Officer also responds to suggestions from members, and enquiries from the walking public, about memorial or commemorative signposts. The Officer delegates work to the other team members, of which there are currently six.

Who will I work with?
If you join this team, you may work alone or occasionally with others on cleaning, painting, inspecting, repairing, erecting or retrieving signposts.

How much time does this involve?
Cleaning signs can be combined with taking a walk. Repainting signposts on long, warm, sunny days is seasonal and can take as many or as few hours and days as you wish. Helping our contractor to erect signs is occasional and usually allocated to whoever lives nearest to the sign. Retrieving signs, when they have rotted and fallen over is usually a winter job.

What experience or skills do I need?
You need a digital camera, a driver’s licence, your own transport and the map-reading ability to find a meeting point by Ordnance Survey grid reference. You also need the fitness to climb up and down hills or help push a trolley with a bag of Postcrete, post-hole digger, iron bar, spade or signpost. For re-painting you need patience, a steady hand and good eyesight. For cleaning signs you only need to carry extra water and a scrubbing brush. We can train you to maintain the Society’s signposts.

Where are the Society's signposts and what do they look like?
See our gallery and the location of our signposts and bridges here.

To register your interest in helping the Signpost Team, please use the appropriate email link on our General enquiries page.

Can I donate to the Society to support the maintenance and installation of a signpost?
Yes, please use the button below to visit the page where you can make a donation.

PNFS is a statutory consultee for the 35 Highways Authorities (i.e., local councils) in the region we cover and they must therefore contact us about proposals which affect public rights of way. The Consultations and Orders team looks at these proposals carefully to ensure that walkers’ rights are protected.

A confirmed order including a map showing the route of the right of way.
An example of a confirmed ROW Order.

The team consults with the relevant Footpath Inspector and Area Officer and sends a reply to the local authority. The local authority takes this response into account when making a decision about whether to approve or reject a proposal.

Typical issues include planning applications, applications to divert or close rights of way on a temporary or permanent basis, communications from the Planning Inspectorates about disputes, hearings, decisions etc., and from local authorities about Public Spaces Protection Orders.

We are at the forefront of defending rights of way, and have won some notable struggles, for example, at Jenny’s Point, Silverdale in Lancashire, where we regained use of a footpath at Jenny’s Point which had effectively been closed for many years.

A Consultations and Orders manager would support you in the work you do.

How much time does this involve?
Two or three hours a week in our office in Stockport or from home.

What experience or skills do I need?
You will need some computer skills, map-reading skills and an understanding of Rights of Way. Legal knowledge would be welcomed.

To register your interest in helping with Rights of Way Consultations & Orders, please use the appropriate email link on our General enquiries page.

Members of the Courts & Inquiries team are responsible for progressing the resolution of major faults such as serious obstructions, and represent the Society at public inquiries and magistrates' courts.

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A path 'out of repair'! For this sort of problem Courts and Inquries Officers serve notices on the responsible authorities

As a C&I Officer you'll primarily resolve issues relating to obstructions and other faults/problems that can't be dealt with by Inspectors. This includes drafting and serving pre-action letters and statutory notices on Highways Authorities, including notices under Sections 56 and 130 of the Highways Act 1980, subject to authorisation from the C&I Committee.

You'll deal with proposals to amend existing public rights of way (diversions, extinguishments), and promote and assist with claims for recognition of public rights of way and other access rights.

You'll also help with policy development, particularly policies in respect of Highways and Planning law that affect public rights of way and other access rights.

You'll prepare reports relating to C&I activity in your area for the C&I Committee meetings (held 6 times per year), currently on a Friday morning.

On very rare occasions we take a case to Magistrates' Court or to a Public Inquiry. In the event of this, you may be involved in appointing and working with a suitable lawyer.

How much time does this involve?
The time commitment for this role varies but on average takes around three days a month.

What experience or skills do I need?
Ideally, you need to be knowledgeable and experienced in public rights of way law (or willing to learn). So, if you have a legal background or have experience of regulation and enforcement, then this is an ideal role for you.

However, if you don’t have the above background but are interested and willing to learn, we would love to hear from you. Full training and support will be provided, including a mentor and the opportunity to attend a comprehensive external training course.

To register your interest in helping with Courts & Inquiries, please use the appropriate email link on our General enquiries page.

The work of the Society is supported by many central office functions. We always welcome people who can spare some time to help with these. Currently we would love to have help with communications, marketing and social media promotion.

Ideally we would like a volunteer who can:
  • Help to develop and execute a social media campaign to raise awareness of our work and to advertise our volunteer opportunities
  • Provide guidance/strategy on how we can manage our social media on an ongoing basis, e.g., using a centralised tool, creating a content calendar, identifying easy and free graphic tools and images
  • Produce fresh and engaging content for our social media channels
  • Engage with our followers and encourage interaction
  • Manage and maintain social media channels on a regular basis.

As part of this role, we would like you to liaise with walking groups affiliated to the Society, with student walking groups, and with publicity outlets, (press, magazines and websites).

What’s in it for you?
You'll have the chance to shape our social media marketing strategy. From crafting the advert to selecting the platform, this is a great opportunity to showcase your skills. You'll have the opportunity to make a real difference to the work we do.

How much time does this involve?
Two or three hours a week in our office in Stockport or from home.

What experience or skills do I need?
  • Writing and editing marketing content for social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram / across all platforms
  • Building strategies to increase social media following and awareness campaigns.
A montage of social media logos and neon signs in Piccadilly Circus

To register your interest in helping with Media and Publicity, please use the appropriate email link on our General enquiries page.

Our work is supported by many central office functions. We always welcome people who can spare some time to help with these.


Currently we would love to have help with general administration support. This could involve all kinds of work, promotions and more. One very important task is the upkeep of the Society’s footpath archive. This is an invaluable asset which is constantly referred to.

We also have one-off opportunities. These are ideal for people who aren't able to commit to regular long term work. We always have a number of projects that could be carried out as and when you have the time.

How much time does this involve?
Two or three hours a week in our office in Stockport or from home.

What experience or skills do I need?
You will need computer skills and have a general interest in walking.

To register your interest in helping with Admin Support, please use the appropriate email link on our General enquiries page.