Access improvements


Well built and maintained footpaths allow visitors to get access to see and learn about wildlife and carry out recreational activities. They also allow site managers to route visitors either to or away from areas of sites where there are features of interest or which need to be protected.

Natural materials are usually more appropriate to nature reserves and open spaces as they look more in keeping with the surroundings and tend to quickly blend in. Complete Ecology has experience of installing many footpaths and access structures.

The commonest footpath type that we install is using self-binding gravel (e.g. Coxwell Gravel). This sets hard and gives a lasting smooth finish suitable for most situations (including wheelchair access) but quickly blends into the surrounding and so does not look not intrusive.  In the recent past we have surfaced paths in Burgess Park (Southwark), Wilderness Island (Sutton), Merton Green Walks (Merton) and nearly 2Km of the Greenchain Walk.

In other places slopes are too steep to mallow a simple path to be installed. Here steps are necessary and again self-binding gravel enclosed in timber sleepers and edge boards is a very effective solution. We have installed these steps on several sites including Oxleas Wood (Greenwich), Burgess Park, Frank's Park (Bexley) and Lesnes Abbey Woods (Greenwich).

Drainage is a key issue in footpath design and construction.  CEL are able to install land drains and ditches to take water away from paths and reduce erosion.


Boardwalks allow access to very wet areas.  CEL has installed several boardwalks in nature reserves, including Gutteridge Wood and Denham Lock Wood.  Boardwalks can be made out of timber or sometimes recycled plastic.  We prefer to use either oak or recycled plastic for the uprights in the ground as these will not rot.  We then install a deck with non-slip insets.  Hand rails are used where necessary.

Gates and Fences

Appropriate gates and fences are necessary to facilitate and control access. For example they can allow visitors to get on to sites but restrict vehicle access and motorbike users or keep grazing animals on site. Disabled access is important on most sites but this may cause problems with for example motorbike access. Suitable gates are therefore a requirement and many different styles are available. Complete Ecology has installed kissing gates and other types of access structures on many sites. Go to the gallery page to see some pictures. 


CEL has installed and replaced pedestrian bridges on several sites.  Most recently we widened and bridge at Wilderness island in Sutton.  The hand rails were removed and a new bridge surface created using telegraph poles in addition to old concrete beam with a wooden deck.  The handrails were then replaced to create a wider more accessible bridge. Click here or more details and to see photos of this project.

Information Boards

Information boards are probably the easiest way to inform visitors about a site.  They can give information about the wildlife, history and features of the site, often include a map and can provide contact details to inform site managers about interesting sights or notify them about problems.

CEL can help with these in a number of ways.  We can be involved in writing and designing the boards, often with the clients own designers.  We can help with production by sourcing suppliers or liaising with the manufacturers.  Finally we can install the signs on the site.

We have installed information boards on many sites throughout London including Merton Green Walks, Peckham Rye Common and several London Wildlife Trust Reserves.

Signs and Waymarkers

Signs are essential to help people to get to wildlife sites and to find their way round them. CEL have experience of installing may different types of signs and waymarkers on site throughout London. The largest project of this nature which we have been involved in is on the Greenchain Walk. where we have installed signs and waymarkers in parks, on lampposts and purpose made posts.  We can also advise on designing signs, surveying areas to ascertain the signs needed and help with sourcing and manufacture.