Archive for rights-of-way

Rhineland progress report

South Gloucestershire rights-of-way officers have the blocked paths in hand and have instructed their contractors accordingly.

The stile/footbridge was damaged by another set of contractors, who were employed by Redrow to remove a hedge and make my directions harder to follow! A search of the internet revealed that Redrow have had outline planning permission to build on this land since 1957. The latest scheme was for the Severnside Stadium plus housing, but this ran into difficulties due to objections to increasing traffic on the road from Pilning to Easter Compton.

I doubt whether another scheme will be put forward before the end of the housing recession.

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Updates 07-07-08 – 3: Rhineland

Updates are available on 3 routes from Beyond The Urban Fringe (B-tuf 2 – The Wild West, B-tuf 16 – A Bird in the Hand and now B-tuf 3 – Rhinelend)

We decided to walk the Rhineland route from the Fox at Easter Compton under a threatening sky, but luckily the threat did not develop. I read the instructions aloud over the first section and my wife commented on their accuracy or otherwise. The light made the views of the two motorway bridges even more obvious than it says in the text.

The first problem we came across was a new green gate on the descent from Spaniorum Hill (point 2).  This might cause confusion if you are not using an OS map (154 or 167) in conjunction with the book as recommended. There is a perfectly good pedestrian gate beside it, so it is only a psychological problem.

The second problem was caused by an improvement to the path between points 6 and 7. Here the footpath has been re-established on the “correct” side of the hedge as shown on the OS map. So, you need to turn right and then left over a new bridge (at ST559835). From here, follow the hedge on your left , crossing a stile and bridge and another stile to emerge on a farm track at 7 (ST557838).

The path over the next stile was blocked by vegetation at this point, so we followed the farm track round to the right, which brought us to a point between the second and third stiles descending from the track or road, which is on an embankment at this point.

The instruction to go straight ahead over the third stile is misleading at this point, because, although the path does go straight ahead in a general sense, you have to turn left from the point of view of a person getting over the stile. The confusion is made worse by the fact that two sets of stiles on the way to point 8 are not mentioned, which could potentially cause a crisis in confidence. The first of the second set of stiles leads onto a bridge is broken and difficult to negotiate. Also the first of the two gates is now missing. In short this section would be very confusing without an OS map.

In view of the problems with the last section, I wished I had mentioned the stiles into and out of the muddy grassy track, and the fact that you have to turn right on a track to reach the main road.

There were no futher problems on the way to the White Horse, where we stopped for a snack lunch and pint of Thatchers and an orange juice and soda. This is really an excellent local pub. There were 3 horse drawn vehicles pulling out as we arrived, including one small carriage ideal for weddings I should think. There are also better views of the Severn Crossing than I remembered on the way there.

On the way back to the pub, there were no problems until we reached the corner of Mill Rhine Plantation (ST579846), where we found a stile next to the gate, which had previously been hidden by vegetation, and there was no hemlock this year.

We decided to omit the Raven’s Tail and explored the new woodland instead. There are some new permissive footpaths through it that open up possiblities for a nimber of new routes.

The only other real problems were the nettles blocking the path from ST587830 and ST586827 in Over. This was particularly disappointing as this is a section of the Community Forest Path. My wife was also menaced by a pair of dogs from the stables adjoining the spot where the path joins the tarmac lane.

A completely different attitude is displayed by the farmer who owns fields between here and Easter Compton. He mows his headlands to allow people to walk around his fields is comfort, rather than trample his grass by walking on the strict line of the right of way.

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More progress on the Moor

Following up on signs of work I saw in the distance on Tuesday, I went along to Avon Riding School for the Disabled opposite the Blaise Estate car park on Thursday to see what was going on. Apparently the riding school has leased the moor and has built a track onto it, together with a new gate. This means that it is now possible to get off the moor via the path leading to Corbet Close. That is not particularly helpful for the Wild West route in itself, but it does mean that the moor is likely to be cared for. Nick the manager was out digging up Ragwort, (Senecio jacobaea), which is poisonous to horses, when I visited. When this has been done, the fields will be mown for hay, which ought to improve access.

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Progress report

South Gloucestershire Technical Officer (Public Rights of Way) Natalie Meese-Kennedy has come up trumps with the blocked path onto Lawrence Weston Moor (Path OAY 106) and has handed the job onto the contractors who deal with these things. With any luck at all that means that the Wild West Route will soon be open again. (I’d give it at least a fortnight.) However, there are nettles elsewhere on the route, especially as the path from Berwick Lodge Farm emerges into a field from the track alongside the motorway, so shorts are probably risky. The path around Bank Leaze Primary School wil probably take longer to shift, but the route through the nature reserve is preferable in any case.

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Blocked paths crossing the City Boundary

I have recently received the following e-mail from the Bristol City rights of way department about a blocked footpath between Whitchurch and Maes Knoll that I complained about some time ago.

Dear Mr Bloor

The current situation is that Bath & North East Somerset need to obtain committee authorisation to permit Bristol City Council to process an order on their behalf. The diversion for them is at the top end of the path, so that it follows the field boundary and exits at the existing kissing gate. Their next committee is  in the first week of July. At that stage I can get the dedication agreement signed and a diversion order advertised.

The result will be a public footpath connecting Tannorth Rd up to East Dundry Rd and onwards to Maes Knoll.

 Thank you for your interest,

Mary Knight

This looks like good news, because the blocked section is part of a route that I left out of the first Crossing Boundaries book because of the blockage.  You can find the route, which is nicknamed “The Caterpillar”, amongst the CTTC free routes on www.closertothecountryside.co.uk

The e-mail reminded me of other blocked paths, so I sent the following back:

Dear Mary Knight,

Your e-mail about the path at Dundry Hill Farm, Whitchurch, reminded me of a couple of other places where I have had problems in the past, both on paths that cross the boundary of the Bristol unitary authority.

The first of these is the path from North Hill Farm, East Dundry, to Bishport Avenue. This path is useful as part of of a circular route, which links the countryside around Dundry with Wilmotte Park, Crox’s Bottom and the Malago open space to Bishopsworth Library. Unfortunately the path from the city boundary to Bishport Avenue passes through land, which is, I believe, owned by the council, and is usually very nearly unpassable.

I have not visited this path lately for that reason, but I would be delighted to hear that the path is now properly maintained and marked so that it would be worth visiting again.

Similar problems exist on the path from Hallen across Lawrence Weston Moor to Atwood Drive. There are two pinch points. The first is where the path goes alongside the motorway under the railway line from Filton to Avonmouth. I suspect that the section that is usually severely overgrown and impassable is in South Gloucestershire, but it is hard to be certain as the railway forms the boundary at this point. If it is a South Gloucestershire problem, perhaps you could bring it up in an appropriate forum.

The second pinch point is around Bank Leaze School where the path has been confined to an enclosure that is usually choked by brambles etc. This is almost certainly council owned land.

I hope that you can assure me that these problems have already been dealt with. Otherwise, I would be interested to hear what you propose doing about them.

Yours sincerely

Chris Bloor

Watch this space for further developments

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The Wheels of God

The wheels of God grind slow, they say, but they grind exceeding small. The image is that of a mill-stone, but it seems to apply equally well to rights of way officers. I recently received the following letter from the Enforcement and Access Officer of North Somerset Council, dated 28/05/2008:

Public footpath LA7/46

In 2006 you reported being chased along the restricted byway between Hill Farm and Oxlease Lane in Dundry.

I apologise for the length of time it has taken to address your complaint, however, I have only just joined North Somerset Council as their enforcement officer. I have discussed the problem of the doberman pincher with our Dog Warden and have carried out a site visit to assess the problem. The dog does not appear to be able to access the right of way any more, but if you do encounter any problems with the dog again, please do let me know.

With regards to the obstruction of the right of way by vegetation and locked gates, I am currently in the process of having them removed. Once this has been done, I will write again to let you know, however, if you have any queries in the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Yours sincerely

Graeme Stark

Enforcement and Access Officer

It is nice to know that these things are taken seriosly, but I would not be surprised to learn that the dog has died, or become too old to chase walkers by now!

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