Archive for the ‘Gateway Sites’ Category

Friends of CFP: Bulletin 5

The Way Forward?

I attended a very instructive meeting of the South Gloucestershire Public Rights of Way Liaison Group (PROWLG) last week. The heart of the meeting was the question of how volunteers could and should be used to help keep footpaths clear.

The general feeling was that there were a number of potential volunteers in the area, who would like to clear paths, but it was difficult to actually get a group together to do the job.

One difficulty was there are three sets of people involved who need to be co-ordinated: the volunteers, the landowner and the local authority.

Rennie Dickins (the South Glos PROW team leader) had recently been to a conference that produced a useful summary of the approaches used in different councils.

Firstly, there is the view that the easiest and most cost effective method is to use contractors with power tools and to use no volunteers at all. Rennie suggested that this method also gave the authority power over the process because they could withhold payment if the job was not done properly. (Model 1)

It does not always work: this bridge was taken out by drainage contractors.

Secondly, the authority could operate volunteers through an intermediary with their own third party insurance such as the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers. There was a representative of the Cotswold Wardens at the meeting, who work in this manner. (Model 2)

(See http://www.cotswoldsaonb.org.uk/?page=cotswoldswardens ) I should imagine that the Bristol Trails group (http://www.bristoltrailsgroup.com/), which builds mountain bike trails works in a similar manner. Friends of the Community Forest Path is affiliated to BTCV and thus has insurance and would fit in with the second model.

The third method, and the least popular with public rights of way departments, is direct supervision of groups of volunteers. This requires a heavy commitment from officers and there is a problem in that volunteers and officers tend to be at work at the same time and it would be unfair for officers to supervise volunteers at the weekend. Rennie asked whether we could have a volunteer volunteer-co-ordinator. (Model 3)

The last model was referred to as light touch volunteering. In this model, the volunteer acted more or less as an ordinary walker, who might carry a pair of secateurs and a folding saw to ensure that he was not prevented from exercising his right to walk along a blocked footpath. This was Rennie’s preference, but this view was not shared by Robin Winfield, an ex-NFU representative, who preferred the third model, because of a bad experience with an over enthusiastic snipper, who created havoc by making holes in hedges, through which cattle escaped. (Model 4)

So far, most of the work done by the Friends of The Community Forest Path has followed Model 4 and has been done by one or two people. However, the group is set up to operate under Model 2, although, on the whole, this has not been the way that things have worked out. The only exception was the tree planting along footpath 306 on Dundry Slopes, which was carried out using trees obtained from BTCV, volunteers from Hartcliffe and Withywood Partnership, children from Fairfurlong School and volunteers from CSV (Community Service Volunteers.) We also had the benefit of acquiescence from the parks department.

 

Heather Williams with residents of Hartcliffe and Withywood  and children from Fairfurlong School planting some of the 100 trees received from BTCV by the Friends of the Community Forest Path. It is hoped that the trees, 20 oak, 20 beech, 20 birch, 20 rowan and 20 wild cherry will shade out the brambles that threaten to close the path from time to time. It will be some years before the trees, planted as whips, will be big enough to do this. In the meantime, they will need some TLC, which will also help to keep the path open and in the public eye.

Ideally, we should do more Model 2 work, because that is the sort of work that will keep the group together.

One good example of a Model 2 group similar to ours in action is provided by “A Coventry Way”, http://www.acoventryway.org.uk . Here we have a group set up to look after a circular path around a major city (40 miles long as opposed to the 45 around Bristol) with 21 circular routes off the route and a group of about 10 volunteers, which puts in kissing gates and bridges and clears scrub.

The volunteer group must consist mainly of retired people, because they meet once a month on a Wednesday at 9-30 am. They are clearly prepared to work all day because it was considered worth remarking that one particular job was finished by one o’clock.

The Coventry group is financed through events on “A Coventry Way”, by the sale of route descriptions of the main path but also of the 21 smaller circular routes. They also seem to make money from the sale of T-shirts and other memorabilia connected with the path.

The elements of the Coventry Way set up are present in Bristol, but they need to be integrated in some way.

The ideal focus would be an event. At present, most people take on the Community Forest Path as individuals or small groups trying to beat the Green Man Challenge to become Woodwoses. Giles Heeks of Moti came up with a sponsored model in which groups were led around by pacemakers as in the London Marathon. In May, a group from Oasis Academy Brightstowe (formerly Portway School) are going to do the route as a relay.

The Coventry model could incorporate all these approaches. It is open to runners and walkers as individuals or as relay teams, with each category setting off individually at different times with times being  recorded at check points along the route. The elapsed times are computed at the end – a little like the Cotswold Way Relay or perhaps more like the Julian House Circuit of Bath Walk (20 miles).

Such an event would require checkpoints to be manned for a considerable amount of time. How could we do this? Perhaps relay teams might be able to do some of this? We should also seek help from walking groups, such as the LDWA (Long Distance Walkers Association) or the Ramblers.

However, I think the way forward may lie through parishes and neighbourhood partnerships. Parish Councils in particular have close relations with landowners and many are already involved in looking after and promoting their own footpaths. Perhaps they would also support an event such as we are suggesting, especially if we promoted a charity at the same time.

The Greenman Challenge Ultra per Giles

The biggest Green Man Challenge attempt so far was organised by Giles Heeks of Moti, seen here with Martin Beale and others approaching the check point on Shortwood Hill. This event was supported by Salomon and Gore  sportswear manufacturers and Moti the sports shop on Whiteladies’ Road. 22 runners set off from the Green Man at 8am on 19th February. 9 brave souls finished the whole 45 miles including Angie Sadler who is the new women’s champion with a time of 9 hours 46 mins.

Previously, Jonathan Gledson of TACH became the third fastest Woodwose with a time of 8 hours 12 mins on 29th January. The following week, Luke Taylor, also of TACH, produced an excellent run of 8 hours 31 mins in conditions that Jonathan said were much more difficult than when he did it. This was on 27th February.

Details of these attempts can be found on http://gaveller.wordpress.com

 On the Community Forest Path

 

Jonathan Gledson reported that these steps were blocked by stones from the wall on the left, which had fallen across them. I went to inspect them with Giles Heeks, who is organising the Moti Green Man Challenge and the site was a dangerous mess, so I reported it to Rennie Dickins of the South Gloucestershire Public Rights of Way team. There was a bit of a problem, because the footpath is not on the definitive map. Nevertheless, the problem has been well sorted as this picture shows.

 There is another problem where the CFP follows the Frome Valley Walkway from the Dingle to a footbridge over the river. Here the path has been closed due to building up above. To avoid the problem, you have to turn left near the quarry in the picture on the left and descend to the river. This path is not without its problems, but it is possible to use it.

 

The M5 Bridge

Spud Murphy, ex-Tory Councillor from Avonmouth provided an opportunity to get the Friends of the Community Forest Path into the papers when he complained about the expense of replacing a bridge over the motorway that had had to be removed because it had been damaged by collisions. Of course, by the time he complained the money had already been spent so his remarks were ineffective. But his intervention meant that I had the opportunity to reply. His response gave another opportunity for local opposition to his views to come out and I got another crack at promoting the Friends of the Community Forest Path and the Moorland Multiterrain 10K race from the Avon Riding Cente for the disabled.

 Now that the bridge is back in place, there is work to do on the footpaths that I mentioned in a letter to the Post.

Bristol Footpath 4, which starts on the other side of the M5 is easy enough to follow if you are fit enough to jump a ditch, but two footbridges have been removed, one at either end of the path, which was diverted to enable the building of an unoccupied distribution centre. This has been attributed to carelessness on the part of drainage contractors, but I suspect it may have more to do with the perceived threat of the area being taken over by off-road motorbike enthusiasts and owners of the kind of horses that are associated with the traditional Romany gipsy way of life.

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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 .

Lyde Green Gateway Site

This Gateway site has come to my attention because of a proposal to locate a cricket pitch on Lyde Green Common. So far so good. But the plan of the cricket pitch was prepared by David Lock Associates for J.J. Gallagher Ltd, Heron Land Developments Ltd and Quintain Estates and Development PLC, a consortium which plans to develop Emerson’s Green East – the area bounded by the ring road, the M4, Westerleigh Road and the Dramway Footpath.

There is nothing much wrong with this development in principle, and South Glos. are on the ball – setting high standards for the development. But the developers have taken the council to court in an attempt to get the terms relaxed so that they can put up the usual unimaginative tat, which makes the most money.

So there is scope here for the Runners for the Green Belt to growl against the Mammonite Fundamentalists.

From the point of view of the Friends of the Community Forest Path, Lyde Green Common is an important link to the Community Forest Path for the inhabitants of Emerson’s Green via the tunnel under the M4 near Lyde Green Farm. This section of the Community Forest Path passes through the Kendleshire Golf Course and takes in a stretch of the Frome Valley Walkway before returning to Emerson’s Green via the Leap Valley Local Nature reserve. (See Out from the Centre chapter 7.)

Lyde Green Common is also the key to a circular walk off the Community Forest Path from the Golden Heart in Kendleshire. However, this route is currently blocked between the common and Westerleigh Road. One would hope that any development would restore the link, possibly using a strip of land alongside a tributary of the Folly Brook.

As a Gateway Site, Lyde Green Common encapsulates the right of the citizens of Emerson’s Green to access the countryside.

The Ashton Gateway Site

The Ashton Vale Fields Site of Nature Conservation Interest, when taken in relation to Colliter’s Brook, has the potential to be a Forest Gateway Site.

In a sense, the Ashton Gateway is a subsidiary site, but it is essential to the proper functioning of the Primary Forest of Avon Gateway Site, based on Ashton Court and Leigh Woods.

From the point of view of the Friends of the Community Forest Path, Ashton Court is poorly linked to Leigh Woods, being divided from it by the busy A369. The only effective link is a gap in the estate wall onto the mountain bike trail near the miniature railway. We prefer to think in terms of a Clifton Suspension Bridge as the Gateway, because if you go over it, it makes a clear Gateway from the City into Somerset. (If you go under it, it is a Gateway to America – so that in two senses, the Bridge is a Gateway to the West.)

For a Gateway to work as an effective means of leading people out of the City into the Countryside, there has to be a convenient return route. Those who can keep going all the way round the Community Forest Path would be considered exceptional by most people. Less intimidating goals are required. The clockwise route from the Suspension Bridge via Leigh Woods is at least fifteen miles long and returns via the M5 bridge at Avonmouth – again too long for most. The shortest anticlockwise return is through the Burgh Walls section of the Avon Gorge SSSI, which is fine, but it doesn’t touch Ashton Court or Leigh Woods. The only practical route is a modified version of the Community Forest Path route along North Road (past Leigh Woods) and across the A369 to the hole in the wall near the miniature railway to the Green man in the Deer Park.

From the Green Man, the shortest return to Clifton is via Kennel Lodge Road and Clannage Road, and either the footbridge over the railway near the Police Kennels and Stables or Greville Smyth Park via a series of tunnels and bridges. Neither of these is particularly satisfactory due to the amount and speed of the traffic on Clannage Road and the fear that many people (especially women) feel using underpasses.

So, the only really satisfactory return route is via the Ashton Gateway.

On the City side, the Gateway links via Colliter’s Brook to Greville Smyth Park, which is close to Southville and Bedminster, and via the railway bridge over the Avon to Hotwells and Clifton Wood.

On the Country side, the Gateway links to the Community Forest Path at Bower Ashton and Long Ashton and via Colliter’s Brook to Dundry and beyond. It also provides an essential link to the Malago Greenway, which joins Bedminster, Windmill Hill, Headley Park and Bishopsworth to the Community Forest Path.

Key places linked to the Ashton Gateway are the Create Centre and the Riverside Garden Centre, together with pubs in Hotwells and Clifton Wood. If the New Stadium is built, that too could play a key role, especially if a path were dedicated alongside Colliter’s Brook through the old Ashton Gate site.

See www.bower-ashton.co.uk/colliters-brook.htm

And www.natureinthecity.org.uk/AshtonVale/Colliters2009 for some pictures etc.

The Charlton Gateway

The Charlton Gateway is a semi-developed Gateway Site that has become neglected and deserves a little care and attention. It came to my attention because it has been threatened by a proposal to build offices across a link to it, to offset the costs of building a Concorde museum next to the Warner Village.

The central idea of the Carlton Gateway is a walk exploring the lost village of Charlton , which was flattened to build a runway for the ill-fated Brabazon airliner, which struggled into the air in 1949. So the walk is part of the same history that the museum is going to celebrate.

The attraction of the walk comes from the fact that it goes through a piece of semi-intact countryside that has been preserved by the threat of aircraft falling on it.

It is closer to the Mall than it is to Patchway, whose Town Council developed the Charlton Walk. It seems to be used mainly by dog-walkers visiting the Mall.

The leaflet accompanying the Walk highlights links to the countryside beyond the M5 and the Community Forest Path at Berwick Lane, Easter Compton and the Banana Bridge over the M5 at Patchway as well as population centres in Patchway and Filton. The Leaflet also refers to links to the Patchway Greenway and the Filton Heritage Walk. Links to Brentry and Southmead in Bristol are also possible but are not highlighted in the leaflet. Some of these links are also explored in chapter of the first Crossing Boundaries Book, Out from the Centre.

The Gateway was developed by Patchway Town Council, the Patchway Conservation Group and South Gloucestershire Council with the aid of money from the landfill tax.

Since this money is only available for capital projects, no money has been made available for maintenance so it needs a bit of a bramble bash and perhaps a little imaginative planting.

This could be financed by the museum, which ought to have an interest in the project, but there are other possibilities for generating economic activity to support the Gateway. For example, a café might be built along with the offices offering views over the airfield and a dog walking service could be introduced for dog-owners visiting the Mall etc.

Lawrence Weston Gateway

Lawrence Weston City Farm was suggested as a Forest Gateway Site by the Forest of Avon Team, because it is closely linked to the Lawrence Weston Moor Local Nature reserve, and because it is close to a population centre (Lawrence Weston).

It is of interest because it can be joined to the Community Forest Path by linking paths at the Iron Bridge, at Berwick Lodge, via Hill End Drive to Blaise car park and at the railway bridge off Meadowland Road. A link through Haw Wood (another potential Gateway Site) might also be possible.

The present administration at the Avon Riding Centre for the Disabled in Henbury are ideally placed to catalyze the development of this Forest Gateway Site as they have taken over management of that part of Lawrence Weston Moor that is not managed by the Avon Wildlife Trust. They have already improved access to the Moor by providing rudimentary stiles and will be hosting a footrace in January, which will explore key areas of the Lawrence Moor Gateway Site.

ACTION

1) Establish the right of way between the City Farm and the Local Nature Reserve between the playing fields and the M5 by collecting evidence of uninterrupted use over 20 years.

2a) Open up the path to the Moor around Bankleaze School by persuading PROW officers to act and by offering support with path clearing.

2b) Alternatively, negotiate a permissive path round the other side of Bankleaze School on an apparently well-trodden route.

3) Create PROW across Moor from LNR to the  creepway under railway beside M5 by negotiation with landowner.

4) Establish status of PROW from Moor to Hill End Drive.

5) Establish PROW from Meadowland Road to Haw Wood by collecting evidence of continuous use over 20 year period.

6) Work to keep the above paths clear of brambles and nettles etc.

7) Clear brambles and nettles from path alongside motorway towards Berwick Farm and then to CFP at Berwick Lodge.

8) When the above is carried out, it would be a good idea to clear paths through Haw Wood.

Forest of Avon list of Gateway Sites

1)      Cadbury Hill *

2)      Wapley Common, Yate *

3)      Fore Hill, Portishead

4)      Abbot’s Wood

5)      Hartcliffe Community Farm *

6)      Warmley Forest Park

7)      Marsh Lane, Easton in Gordano

8)      Lawrence Weston Farm *

9)      Grimsbury Farm, Kingswood

10)   Backwell Lake, Nailsea *

11)  Eastville Park, Bristol *

12)  Westerleigh Common

13)  East Wood, Portishead *

14)  Easton/St Werburgh’s

15)  Savages Wood, Bradley Stoke

16)  Court Wood, Clevedon

17)  The Coots, Stockwood

18)  Haw Wood, Henbury

19)  Stoke Park, Lockleaze

20)  Old Down *

21)  Bedminster Down *

22)  Rodway Hill, Mangotsfield *

23)  Tourist Information Centre, Bristol *

24)  Court Farm, Winterbourne

25)  Malago Greenway, Bedminster *

26)  Cribbs Causeway, Bristol

27)  Ashton Court *

28)  Willsbridge Mill *

29)  Blaise Estate *

30)  Conham River Park

31)  Hicks Common, Winterbourne

Additional sites suggested during consultation

32)  Durdham Down, Clifton

33)  Manor Farm, Keynsham

34)  Felton Hill *

35)  Huckford Quarry *

36)  Swineford Picnic Site *

37)  Culvery Wood, Pensford

38)  Goblin Combe, Cleeve *

39)  Ridge Wood, Yate *

40)  Abbot’s Pool *

41)  Yatton Station *

42)  Wick Rocks

43)  Centenary Field, Frampton Cotterell

44)  Bristol Temple Meads Station

45)  Keynsham Railway Station

46)  Compton Dando

47)  Congresbury

48)  Leigh Woods

49)  Clifton Suspension Bridge

50)  Ashton Hill Plantation

51)  Sea Mills Railway Station

52)  Marine Lake, Portishead

53)  Easter Compton

54)  East Dundry Woodland

55)  Oldbury Court, Bristol

A list of recommended potential sites

1) Ashton Court and Leigh Woods (27 & 48)

2) Eastville Park/Oldbury Court & Frome Valley (11, 55, )

3) Blaise Estate, Kingsweston House, Penpole Hill & Trym Valley (29)

4) Malago Greenway (25)

5) Lawrence Weston Farm and Greenway (8)

6) Willsbridge Mill (28)

7) Rodway Hill and Mangotsfield Station (22)

8) Warmley Forest Park and Siston Common (6)

9) Ridgewood, Yate (39)

10) Golden Valley, Wick (42)

11) Cadbury Hill (1)

12) Manor Road Woodland (?33)

13) Bristol and Bath Railway Path

14) River Avon Trail (30)