Laying and repairing cobble footpaths

  • Loose and dislodged cobbles and kerb stones

    Dislodged cobbles
  • Trial excavation and recording at All Saints church, Merton

    excavation at Merton
  • Re-setting of cobbles without lime or cement

    Re setting of cobbles
  • Regular clearing of weed growth will help maintain the path

    Weeded cobbles
  • River-washed cobble reinstatement by Williams & Burrows. Copyright Williams & Burrows

    cobbles + leaves

cobbles + leaves thumbnail

In the last century, the laying of cobble footpaths has been affected by the laying of stone for heavier vehicle traffic. As historic cobble footpaths have become damaged through lack of maintenance or inappropriate use, they have become more of a liability rather than an asset.

Our advice on the restoration of these paths is founded on an understanding of their requirements and the materials used, many of which last for over a century.

A traditional cobble path is very simple to construct:

  • Use worn river sandstones dug from the sub-soil of local land or recycled from paths/pavements.
  • Set stones into a profiled sub-soil base with a reasonably high clay component and contain with longer key stones and kerb stones; no setting limes or cements used.
  • Pack stones closely together and fill the gaps between them with sub-soil. Pack down before weathering back to a stone surface.
  • The path will require regular redressing with soil every 3-4 years and clearing of any wood weed growth which may disrupt the stones.

Jonathan Rhind Architects have been involved in a number of church cobble path repair projects and contributed to recent work carried out by Historic England on the history and conservation of cobbles in the South West. For more information see here.