Visitors to the Peak District National Park might have strolled upon some rather grand signposts like the one pictured. They are typically solid cast construction, immaculately kept and full of useful information. They also feature a unique reference number and bear the name Peak & Northern Footpaths Society (P&NFS).
Signposts, fingerposts, plaques and toposcopes
Actually, when you come across one you are looking at one of many. The sign before you is one of 499 owned and maintained by the society. The P&NFS also maintain 8 fingerposts, 5 plaques and 2 toposcopes. Most of the signposts are made in a cast plate style and were individually designed. It really is a treat to come across these unique way markers.
The society has always been run society by a dedicated a group of enthusiasts and volunteers. They have a very long history. The P&NFS was formed in 1894, but the current society evolved from “The Manchester Association for the Preservation of Ancient Public Footpaths” of 1826.
The first signs were erected in 1905 and twenty have even survived from before WW1. They are common in the Peak District but can also be found in a variety of other areas. Look for them on your adventures in Yorkshire, Staffordshire and the Forest of Bowland.
Signpost maintenance is only part of the societies work. They also have a team of about ninety volunteer inspectors who regularly walk footpaths. Any faults or obstructions are then reported to the responsible local authority.
They focus on resolving issues by consultation where possible, but sometimes resort to legal action if needed.
If you feel inspired to help their great work there are various ways to get involved. They are keen to recruit new volunteer path checkers and always welcome new members. You can find all the details on the Peak & Northern Footpaths Society website here.