Archive for the ‘CFP problems’ Category

Orpen Gateway

The Orpen Gateway links Orpen Gardens to the Lockleaze playing fields on Purdown. It is part of a mainly off road route linking Horfield Parish Church and the parish church in Stapleton. This route is, in turn, part of a 23-mile, long-distance path called Green Victory in Book 3 of the Crossing Boundaries Series, which is an extended version of Bristol Ramblers’ South Bristol Circular.

For the general walker, the 8.7-mile section between Southmead Road and Stockwood is probably the most useful, because the end points are linked by the relatively frequent 54 bus. This part of the route uses mainly traffic free paths to link Horfield Common, Muller Road Recreation Ground, Lockleaze Playing Fields, Purdown, part of the Frome Valley Walkway, Eastville Park, Royate Hill Local Nature Reserve, St George’s Park, St Anne’s Wood/Well/Nature’s Garden, Nightingale Valley, Victory Park and Stockwood Open Space Nature Reserve.

This is an excellent example of that connectivity between parks and open spaces, which Jennifer Mackley (Parks and Green Spaces Strategy Co-ordinator) agreed was important at the PROWLG meeting on 10th Sept 2009. It also presents an opportunity to “enhance the use of PRoW…including Promoting Routes, Increased usage and Maintenance,” as mentioned in her presentation.

Orpen Gardens, like most of the streets in Lockleaze is named after a painter, namely the Irish painter Sir William Orpen (1878-1931). Orpen made his reputation as a portrait painter, much influenced by Manet and regarded by John Singer Sargent as his (Sargent’s) natural successor. However, his work as a war artist during the First World War is probably more important, both for his standing as a painter and for the relevance of Orpen Gardens to a route called “Green Victory.”

The importance of Orpen Gardens as a gateway was brought to my attention on Thursday 26th November 2009, when I was prevented from using it while out running with Town and Country Harriers by a locked gate armed with spikes along the top. We were able to get round the obstruction by retracing our steps to Romney Avenue and descending the road to an alternative entrance to Lockleaze playing fields, where there used to be a children’s play ground. However, this is not a satisfactory diversion as it is not advertised on the gate for the benefit of strangers.

I have discovered that the gate was put in place by the Garage Strategy Team, who are dedicated to knocking down garages owned by the council and building houses on the cleared sites. The gate is said to be a temporary expedient to keep fly tippers and drug dealers off the site, and indeed, the way from Orpen Gardens will be needed to access the proposed houses, if they are built.

In the meantime, it is possible to access Lockleaze playing fields from the garage site through a kissing gate by using a path from a neighbouring square called Haydon Gardens (named after an English romantic painter).

The kissing gate provides evidence that Bristol City Council meant to dedicate a public right of way onto the playing fields. It is the understanding of Mr Stephen Rice of 12 Orpen Gardens, that the dedicated way goes from Haydon Gardens through the garage site to the kissing gate, and that the way between 12 and 13 Orpen Gardens was just meant to be an access road to the garages. However, he admits that before being prevented by heart disease, he himself used the way to access the playing fields.

I started to use the route from Dovercourt Road over the pedestrian bridge across the railway to Brangwyn Road, across Romney Avenue into Orpen Gardens and thence onto Lockleaze playing fields some time in the early 1980s, both on my own and leading groups of children from Ashley Down Junior School to see the anti-aircraft gun site among other things. It is difficult to be precise about when this started, but it cannot have been later than 1984.

Since then I have used the route regularly, particularly during the 1990s, when I was using it at least twice or three times a month. Latterly, I have used it less frequently, perhaps six or seven times a year, either on my own or with groups of runners.

I do not think there is any reason why the building of a few houses on the garage site should interfere with the public footpath from Haydon Gardens onto the playing field, and, once that path is acknowledged, there is no reason why the route from Orpen Gardens should not also be acknowledged as a public right of way.  However, if it is true that the playing fields are owned by builders and not by the council, it will be necessary to claim the path across the field to join FP145 on Sir John’s Lane as well.

If you have used these paths at any time during the past twenty years, please get in touch with me chris_bloor@tiscali.co.uk .

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Community Forest Path problems in North Somerset

Looking after the Community Forest Path does not appear to be a priority in North Somerset.

In the Parish of Long Ashton, the section through Leigh Woods village would make more sense if the route were altered to continue to the end of North Road and cross Abbot’s Leigh Road to the hole in the wall onto the cycle track near the miniature railway.

The section from the Angel at Long Ashton to the tunnel under the railway is unsatisfactory in many ways. To get to the Angel, you have to cross the busy B3128 and follow Long Ashton Road. The field after the churchyard is boggy and leads onto cattle drove that is usually covered in slurry. There is a locked leaning gate into a piece of woodland and the path follows the edge of a field, which does not generally have a decent headland. The area is also threatened by a planned housing development.

After the path crosses Colliter’s Brook, the path is threatened by brambles and thorns.

On the other side of the A38, there is another locked gate doing duty as a stile (although there is a damaged stile at the top corner of the field, which is not on a PROW.) At the bottom of the field, the exit is difficult to find due to encroaching brambles and leads to an enclosed path that is difficult to keep clear. There is another locked gate to climb into another horse field.

On the way up Barrow Common, it would be useful if there were a sign indicating the fact that path changes to the other side of the hedge. Where the path crosses Dundry Lane, a motorist is in the habit of clearing out his car, but I am not sure what can be done about it. If you catch him – report him! It may do some good.

The path could be improved by taking advantage of the access land leading to Dundry Down.

The Path quite difficult between Dundry Church and Oxleaze Lane. The last section onto Oxleaze Lane is actually blocked and you have to use two gates to get around the blockage.

The route is unclear at East Dundry.

Action

The Friends of the Community Forest Path should concentrate on clearing brambles in the two sections where the Path crosses Colliter’s Brook (with the permission of the landowners).

We could also usefully clear away nettles from the stile next to the turning circle past Dundry Church.

We could also assist the Highway Authority and the landowner to open up the path onto Oxleaze Lane.

Community Forest Path problems in Bristol

In Bristol, there are no serious problems affecting the Community Forest Path, which is open throughout.

The only place where it is occasionally compromised is at Sea Mills, where brambles threaten the path in 3 Acre Wood, and at the end of Clapton Walk, where dumped white goods and brambles can be a problem.

There are a couple of places where the path is treacherous underfoot. There are uneven steps etc near the peregrine watchers spot on the Circular Road, and the Mariner’s Path provides trip hazards between Church Avenue and Druid Road. But these are quibbles.

I think the route through Henbury is unnecessarily convoluted and that there is a potentially preferable route through Bower Ashton to the Dovecote from Ashton Court, but these are really matters of opinion.

The path could be improved by using the path across the weir to Sea Mills Lane and the path between the houses to Roman Way. From there, Horseshoe Drive leads to a planned new path through Sneed Park LNR to Glenavon Park and the bottom of Mariners’ Walk. This would cut out the boring bit of road up Avon Way.

Action

No action is required in Bristol at present, but we should be prepared to help out in Sea Mills if the footpath maintenance budget is cut.

Community Forest Path problems in BANES

There are no serious problems with the section of Community Forest Path that passes through BANES and the path is runnable throughout.

Some boggy patches have been improved near Keynsham. There are some tall stiles between North Wick and Norton Hawkfield that can be a problem if you are tired.

Crossing the B3130 near Belluton will require a warning stile if this section of path becomes more popular, as it may if the obstructed path at Dundry Hill Farm, Whitchurch is opened up.

The route of the of the 3 Peaks Walk past Culvery Wood into Pensford is to be preferred to the 2 Rivers Walk route via Byemills Farm, because it encourages safe crossing of the A37 at Pensford.

Action

There is nothing much that the Friends of the Community Forest Path can do to improve this section at present.

Community Forest Path problems in South Gloucestershire

When attempting the Green Man Challenge (a continuous circuit of the Community Forest Path) we have come across a number of problems on the South Gloucestershire portion of the route.

Beginning at the County Bridge at Keynsham and working anti-clockwise, there are no problems until Londonderry Wharf. From this point to Willsbridge Hill, the CFP is basically un-runnable in the last field leading to the car park of the Queen’s Head – to the extent that we usually use the Dramway Path instead, which also has the advantage of a safer road crossing.

There are no further problems until Southway Drive. The problem is the transition onto the Dramway Path, which is not obvious. We generally turn right on Southway Drive to pick up the Dramway between the warehouses.

Some people have had trouble navigating through Warmley Forest Park to Goose Green.

The enclosed path from Goose Green past Cherryorchard Farm is usually blocked with nettles, particularly near the beginning. One person was misled by the angle of the CFP sign where the enclosed path opens out into a field.

The section up to Shortwood Hill is OK apart from long grass caused by the agricultural depression, which prevents the grass from being cropped.

The path up through the wood on the north side of Shortwood Hill is often difficult to follow due to brambles and other vegetation.

There are no more problems until we get to the other side of the M4.

There are sometimes problems with the gates of the field before the field that contains a disused mine shaft (possibly Parkgate Colliery.) The problem is that there is no proper gate, so when there are cattle in the field, the farmer tends to tie up a barrier with barbed wire.

There are no more real problems until we reach the built up area, where the lack of CFP signs has proved a problem for some.

The only other problem is the enclosed path between Ash Lane and Badger’s Lane, which is regularly nearly impassable due to nettles etc. The dogs at the stables at the Badger’s Lane end of the path can also be intimidating.

The middle section of the stretch from Badger’s Lane to Easter Compton is not a problem at the moment, because it is down to grass. But the last time it was ploughed for arable crops, it was not restored on the correct line (although there were wide conservation-style headlands, which may have been intended as a substitute.)

The rest of the route is fine.