Pathwork often had two interlinked aims.
- Stop the path becoming a burn (stream) when it rained hard
- Prevent erosion and widening of the path
These aims were usually meet with a variety of digging of ditches and waterbars to intercept water and then move it across the path using cross-drains (see the photo above). We would also occasionally use very small features that Pathcraft called leats that bear little resemblance to the much bigger features I am used to associated with old water mill systems that we would find on river geomorphology surveys (which we called lades in Scotland). Our leats were just a dug out section at the downhill side of the path that would let water out, which we sometimes supplemented with a stone liner and a splash plate if needed.
The spade gives some idea of the size of the stones that are involved and these were often sunk to about 2/3 of their depth and pinned. A long pinch bar is also lying on the stones. Pinch bars were around 1.80 m (6 ft) long and gave a lot of leverage. For truly massive stones, we would use a winch and strops.
By moving the water off the path into areas where it could either soak away or carried on down the hill into open ground, this helped a lot with the problems of intense rainfall. By getting water off the path, we also avoided the problem of people walking round the edge of the puddle that would gradually widen a path.