Having dug a very large hole in one of the beds and half-way across the path to remove a tree-stump obviously doesn't help, the packed earth is converted into loose earth which turns rapidly into the finest grade of mud.
Is there any good way of keeping this from happening? It's a rented house so I'm not willing to spend very much on things like gravel; are there decent matting materials that I could get at reasonable price and just unroll across the garden, or would that be expensive, ugly and ineffective? The grass is already pretty ruined so I wouldn't mind too much about matting killing the grass under it, but I'd want matting that would survive a couple of years unloved outdoors.
With about half a cubic yard of builder's sand, a couple of square metres of paving stones and a quantity of plastic liner, which looks like about a hundred pounds in cost, plus a large amount of healthy shovelling and rolling, I could actually build a proper path of paving stones laid on sand; maybe this is something to discuss with the landlord.