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.

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.

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)

Beyond the Gate (on the coats-of-arms)

The details of a pair of woodcuts showing the coats-of-arms of the German artist, Albrecht Dürer, and one of his friends, Johann Tscherte, sum up between them the medieval idea of a forest. That is, the woodland beyond the gate or more literally, beyond the door.

Dürer’s coat-of-arms is a visual pun on his name, which comes from the German word for door (Dür or Tür). Dürer’s father had taken the name because he came from a village whose name was similar to Ajtó, the Hungarian word for door. The word forest comes from the same root as the German word, because it derives from the Latin word foris meaning a door. (The link between foris and door is the Greek θυρά (thura).) A Roman who was going out went to the doors (foras), and when he was out and about he was at the doors (foris). The word forest came from the medieval Latin phrase forestem silvam, which meant the woods beyond the doors or gates.

The meaning of forest that I am most comfortable with is “A wild, uncultivated waste,” which relates to the wildman of the woods in Tscherte’s coat-of-arms. This shield reflects another pun, because Tscherte’s name meant a wildman or demon in Bohemia. The wildman is tied to two greyhounds, representing faith, indicating that his wildness or freedom is tempered by the fact that he acts to the glory of God. (Tscherte’s motto was Soli deo gloria – Glory to God alone.) He is the personification of the medieval idea of the forest, the opposite of the ordered cultivated area associated with the town. He represents the urban idea of the countryside as a place of recreation, and his appearance reflects the freedom to run through the woods.

Between them, Dürer’s open door and Tscherte’s Wildman represent different aspects of the Community Forest Path.

The Community Forest Path is a wild, uncultivated waste on a small scale, because every path is waste from an agricultural point of view. The surface of the path belongs to the Highway Authority, which means that if a farmer ploughs the path, he is obliged to reinstate the path in a reasonable time. On pastoral land, the path is maintained by the joint action of grazers and pedestrians, as would also happen to some extent in untrammelled wilderness. Where the land is neither ploughed nor grazed, the Highway Authority is supposed to keep the surface of the path in good order, and the landowner is supposed to clear back vegetation encroaching from the sides. This rarely happens in practice, because it is always possible to dispute whether a particular bramble is growing from the surface or the side of the path. Where the path is enclosed on either side, it is only a matter of time before the path becomes choked by thorns, brambles and briars to create an impenetrable mass that would make a fitting protection for Sleeping Beauty’s Castle.

It requires artistry to keep the door to the path open so that the wildman within can run upon it.

Community Forest Path – Coats of arms

Wildman of the Forest or Woodwose

A Forest Gateway

Charlton Gateway – response to Local Authority

TOWN AND COUNTRY PLANNING ACT 1990 –SECTION 257

SOUTH GLOUCESTERSHIRE COUNCIL (FOOTPATH OAY 85 (PART) WEST OF MERLIN ROAD, ALMONDSBURY) PUBLIC PATH DIVERSION ORDER 2009

Your Ref L3/DS/STOR/PT.3814

I wish to object to the diversion of footpath OAY85 on the grounds that the proposed new route is substantially less convenient than the path at present used between A and B on the plan supplied. This path, together with others in the area appear to have been dedicated to the public by the developer when the land had little value.

It is true that the definitive line of OAY85 is overgrown with brambles and other growth  and hence unusable, so any properly built substitute would be an improvement. However, for many years, walkers have used an alternative route between A and B on the top of the slope that has made the definitive line untenable. When I visited the site, it was apparent that many feet had established this higher route, with its views of the Mall, the airfield and the surrounding hills. This change of line of OAY85 is an inevitable consequence of the landscaping of the field, which was presumably a by-product of the building  of the Mall. The implication is that the line of the path at the top of the bank was intended by the developer to be dedicated as a public path.

This line of reasoning is supported by the Charlton Walk leaflet, produced by South Gloucestershire Council working “closely with Patchway Town Council and Patchway Conservation Group.” The map in this leaflet shows the path OAY85 going in a straight line from the Sunflower Sculpture near to the Christmas Tree Roundabout to join FP OAY84. The map is admittedly vague, but the impression that the higher route has been dedicated to public use is reinforced by the words of the leaflet, which was published by South Gloucestershire Council. “The area around you is designated as public open space so you are at liberty to wander and explore.” The purpose of this exploration is clear: “You will enjoy wonderful views of the world beyond the runway. If you look to your left, you will see the Cotswolds looming blue in the distance, whilst to your right stand the hills of North Somerset.”

It seems clear that the developer saw the land between the Mall and the airfield as a convenient place to dump earth that had to be removed to build the Mall and was content to allow it to become public open space and to encourage people to walk on it. The Charlton Walk and its accompanying leaflet were funded by South Gloucestershire Council, the Countryside Agency and a landfill tax grant from South Gloucestershire Environment Body.

The proposal to build a Concorde Museum has offered an opportunity for JT Baylis to make a little money from an otherwise worthless piece of land.

I observe that the diversion of the footpath is not required for the development of the museum but only of the associated offices. I also note that the removal of soil from the site is also mainly connected with the offices, rather than the museum.

No mention has been made in the proposal to the access path to Charlton Walk, which is shown on the accompanying map running south southeast alongside the Highwood Pond, nor to the path running alongside Merlin Road from the alternative access point to Charlton Walk. The latter path has been made necessary by the lack of maintenance to OAY84 alongside the airfield, which means that it is extremely difficult to cross the old field boundaries.

There are several usable paths through the fields associated with the destroyed village of Charlton and they appear to be well used. However, they do not follow the routes on the definitive map. This is because people have been encouraged to believe that they have been granted the right to roam at will. The proposed offices will interfere with the ability to carry on doing so.

Furthermore, I do not believe that some key stakeholders, such as Patchway Town Council and Patchway Conservation Group have been consulted about this proposal.

However, the idea of an Aviation Museum next to the Warner Village is a good one, and it would be a shame if it did not go ahead. But the story of the Brabazon and Charlton Village is as important a part of the aviation history of Filton as Concorde, and it ought to be properly acknowledged in the museum proposals.

If the Charlton Walk, with its associated access routes were to be restored after the proposed development had been completed, it would reduce the need for the existing path OAY85 through the site of the proposed offices. However, what is really needed is a maintenance regime to relate the museum and offices to the Charlton/Brabazon landscape, with its associated paths. Capital grants are all well and good, but projects like the Charlton Walk need to be integrated with adjacent developments if they are to achieve their full potential. The noise bund around the museum site will tend to isolate the building from the adjacent landscape, which is a pity, but there ought to be scope to link the offices to the landscape, possibly through the medium of a café with views across the airfield. Such a café would also have the advantage that it would enable the adjacent footpaths to generate some income, which ought to encourage proper maintenance.

Yours Sincerely

Christopher Bloor

Local Correspondent to the Open Spaces Society

If you want to join in, you need to send you comments to The Head of Legal and Democratic Services, The Council Offices, Castle Street, Thornbury, BS35 1HF – quoting reference numberL3/DS/STOR/PT.3814 – not later than 11th December 2009 You can see the proposed map for yourself at www.southglos.gov.uk/consultation