Repairing & Maintaining Steps

  • Map showing location of required step work (Richard, March 2019): [PDF]
    • Red line = broken or missing step (needing replacing), with length annotated
    • Blue dotted line = proposed new step, with suggested length annotated (as has been cut + end-treated)
    • Black line = existing step in OK condition (all of them should be marked)


  • Slippery Steps: If existing wooden or stone steps are slippery, please scrub the slime off them - water a scrubbing brush and some elbow grease should do it.
  • Chicken Wire: If they are wooden, tacking on a sheet of chicken wire to the tread works well and is easily done. Please tuck in any sharp edges as well as you can.
  • Brick Slips: There are 2 piles of thin brick 'slips' which can be used to make step platforms more grippy. The piles are in the Mediterranean Zone and just above the top path.
  • Wood Chippings: If the ground is getting muddy, piling on some wood chippings can help

Building New Steps

Worth considering:

  • Wheelbarrow Route: In overall planning, thought should be given to leaving a route from tea-area-level to bottom of orchard for wheelbarrows, i.e. avoiding steps
  • Materials: We only have a few bits of planking left for steps, just below the top compost bin. There are also a selection of treated wooden stakes here (bought in Autumn 2016), which probably require sawing in half for typical steps.
  • Stakes: as most of the ground in the orchard is hard clay, stakes can only be hammered a short distance into the ground or risk splitting, so preparatory holes may need to be dug for them.

Steps needing replacing + possible new steps (2018 survey)

  • (Old-style) Map showing location of required step work (Richard, Oct 2018): [PDF]
  • Map shows locations of 19 steps needing replacement and suggests locations for 8 new steps. (Each annotated with estimated width of wood required in metres).
  • Stakes required: In addition to the stakes required for replacement steps (2x19) and new steps (2x8), an additional 11 existing stakes were identified as needing replacing through the orchard. Hence need 49 stakes (or 65 to include new steps).
  • Planking required: for replacement (10.6m), for new steps (4.0m) = 14.6m
  • Current orchard stock: 6 x (0.6m) stakes, negligible planking
  • Recommended purchase of pressure treated sawn timber:
    • Stakes (aka "pegs"): 50x50mm of length >= 0.45m
    • Planks: cross-section approx 190mm x 44mm (7.5" x 1.75")
  • Fountain timber stakes (as previously bought) now £1.04 each (previously £0.95): 50x50mm pegs which would be 43 x 1.04 = £44.72 (or 59 x 1.04 = £61.36 to include new steps)
  • Planking: Jewson offering (until 30 October) 200x47mm C16 Kiln Dried Regularised Treated Carcassing @ £4.28/m + VAT, which would be 15 x 4.28 x 1.20 = £77.04
  • Planking: Fountain Timber: 200x50mm (treated to UC4 for direct soil contact) @ £24.53/3.6m inc VAT (i.e. £5.67/m + VAT), so 4 boards (14.4m) would be £98.12. (However, Stephen Pill has a discount card for Fountain Timber, so slightly reduced).

Potential locations for new steps (2016 survey)

  • Map accompanying notes below (Lewis, Jan 2016) [PDF]

High priority

  • One more step in the Mediterranean zone, on the path before you get to the one that Richard recently made.
  • Full flight of steps leading down from far side of med. Zone to back of fruitarium.
  • Path going down left side of orchard: 1 step needed by lowest compost bay (woody stuff) and 2 more as you get down to the veg patch.

Lower priority

  • On left hand path: 1 step needed just below fruitarium at T-junction of paths.
  • On new path cutting through under Apple 1 – possibly some steps needed.
  • Path going down from Gage 2 and eventually curving left to meet side path – whole path is overgrown and in need of repair over much of its length, though little-used. Existing steps are in need of replacement, and quite a few more new ones needed, particularly at lower end.
  • Path going down right hand side of orchard – steps needed over much of the stretch from the compost loo down, apart from right at the bottom where there are several good steps already.