Rights of Way Information - Nov 2016
Rights of Way and Walking Environment Report 2015/16
At our AGM on 10 November we reviewed what had been achieved during the year ending 30 September 2016.
Our volunteers completed a total of 351 hours practical footpath work during the year, mainly vegetation clearance but also survey, stile repairs and waymarking. This was an increase of 35 hours or 11% on the previous year. 53 km of path were surveyed and almost 10 km cleared of vegetation. Among the paths cleared was one at Leigh, which took a great deal of effort but resulted in the re-opening of a path which had been unusable for many years.
Thanks to the help of Wiltshire Council’s rights of way team we also achieved the re-opening of two other paths which had been unavailable for some time; one on the Marlborough Downs near 4 Mile Clump and one in Ramsbury parish near Crooked Soley. We now meet regularly with the Council’s Senior Rights of Way Warden for our area, which is proving beneficial.
Turning to the path network, our objection to the latest diversion proposal at Baydon House Farm proved unsuccessful. This concludes a series of changes to the path network at this location which have caused controversy over several years; the landowners have now achieved everything they wanted.
It has been another year of little progress in regard to the diversion of the Thames Path away from the main road at Inglesham because of the continuing refusal of one landowner to agree to the path running over his land.
A second case where progress has been frustratingly slow has been the attempt to get Blackthorn Lane, the path next to Whitworth Road cemetery, added to the definitive map based on user evidence. Because of residents’ objections the case is going to the Planning Inspectorate for the second time.
The Ridgeway National Trail Partnership are developing the concept of “strategic links” i.e. paths which link the Ridgeway to nearby settlements which have facilities such as accommodation, a village shop and a regular bus service. They aim to improve the signage on these paths and bring them up to national trails standard. We have supported this work by carrying out path surveys at Avebury, Ogbourne St George and Bishopstone.
We have had several meetings with Swindon Borough Council officers and other interested parties to seek to ensure that a good rights of way network is provided in the New Eastern Villages development. This will continue to be an important area of focus for us over the coming year.