A message from Matt Edwards of BAD Tri

Hi all,

Green Man Challenge is ON.  Saturday 20 March. Reserve date….Sunday 21 March!

Self-supported circumnavigation of Bristol on foot, following the Community Forest Path.  45 miles approx. Immortality beckons!

Firstly, do you want to come along?  I would love to get as many people as possible out doing this, or parts of it. If you know someone who might be interested, please invite them!

Secondly, logistical help on the day or for training runs would be massively, hugely appreciated.  There are a couple of points where a friendly face/aid station (or a lift to start points/back home on the training runs!) would be really really useful!  Any volunteer sherpas will be rewarded in heaven and with chocolate/beer as appropriate.

If you’re coming, then knowing the route is highly recommended (by better people than me, ie those that have actually done it!) to prevent getting lost and to save time on the day.  Also not a good idea to rely on someone else to show you where to go, in case they fall into a ditch/pub along the way!

Therefore….

Green Man Challenge practice – route-finding, essentially, is also ON for the week after Christmas. I’m planning to run it in 3 stages on alternate days – 29 December, 31 December, and 2 January, in daylight hours.

Stage 1 –  Green Man (Ashton Court) to Keynsham, 15.5 miles approx
Stage 2  –  Keynsham to Patchway (16.5 miles approx).
Stage 3 –  Patchway to the Green Man (12 miles approx).

I would love to have company for these whether you want to do the Green Man in March or not.  Pace will be the speed of the slowest person, with whatever stopping, eating and drinking is required.

So get back to me if this floats your boat and you want to be involved in any way at all.

See you soon

Matt

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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.

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.