Countryside Access Work Party – 2018
“Our work again this year has been “business as usual” with the regular team in South Warwickshire. We have been mostly erecting bridges, despite reporting last year that culverts would be built in place of bridges.
In order to do a good job of a culvert the ditch needs to be suitably shallow and not to be carrying a large volume of water. The access needs to be such that the concrete/sand and mixer can be transported right to the work site, and do not need to be carried a long way, and this is not always the case.
However, the bridges do rot in a relatively short time so culverts are the first choice.
Our sites have been Old Arley, Great Alne, Fenny Compton, Oxhill and Bearley.
Our area volunteer hours are up, helped by three new groups from Southam, Harbury and Radford.”
Andrew Ireland 22nd October 2018
Countryside Access Work Party – 2017
Our team has been consistent, with Andrew Ireland, Steve Turner, John Phillips, John Clements, Dave Cottle, Jean MacDonald and Jon Rolt, managed by Spencer Smith of Rights-of-Way.
In the past 12 months we have been continuing with installing some kissing gates to replace stiles, but the trend, as reported last year, is to do more work on bridges, many of which are tending to rot more than in the past.
This could be because of the use of softer timber, more benign preservative, warmer and damper weather, or any combination of these factors.
Recently the Rights of Way, Warwickshire is moving towards solving this by building culverts to replace bridges where feasible. These are made by placing a large diameter pipe (50cm) in the ditch and building a wall at each end to encapsulate the tube. The ditch is filled with hardcore to a level with its banks, and this construction will last for many decades without maintenance!
You’ll see more of these in the coming years, but unless we erect signposts too, there’ll be nowhere to nail our “Erected by Coventry RA” signs!!
Prints of our first culvert will be shown at our AGM.
Countryside Access Work Party – 2016
The group has remained together and Dave Cottle, Andrew Ireland, John Phillips, Steve Turner, Jean MacDonald, John Clements and Jon Rolt with the guidance and support from our Rights-of-Way Co-ordinator, Spencer Smith have been busy improving footpath access for the public, especially ramblers, for another 12 months.
We have not erected any kissing gates because the accent has changed. The stile-to-gate conversions have made considerable progress in South Warwickshire over the years and a good proportion of paths are now stile free.
Kissing gates are the responsibility of landowners and more attention is being given to the Rights-of-Way statuary obligations of clearing vegetation, effective signage and safe bridges.
My understanding is that other areas need to catch up with Warwickshire as we seem to be well ahead with footpath improvements. This is not just our group but collectively with the other Warwickshire groups too.
The app for reporting path obstructions, Pathwatch, is being used, but has not noticeably overwhelmed Warwickshire – a good sign perhaps – however, using it will enable the department to determine priorities and continue serving us well.
There will be some photos of our projects at the AGM.
Andrew Ireland 17 October 2016
Countryside Access Work Party – 2015
The Access working group, comprising Andrew Ireland, Dave Cottle, John Phillips, Steve Turner, Jean McDonald, John Clements and Jon Rolt, have been busy in the last 12 months working on paths to improve footpath and bridleway access throughout Warwickshire.
The tasks, determined by Warwickshire Countryside Rights-of-Way group, are priority–based and very varied, ranging from fabricating flights of steps to installation of a 7-metre span bridge (with handrails) from a kit.
We have erected more bridges this year and fewer kissing gates, probably because so many gates have already replaced the old wooden stiles; one bridge was a replacement for one we fitted just 10 years ago! (It died of rot – not poor workmanship!!).
Locations were Fillongley, Moreton Bagot, Wasperton, Hockley Heath, Budbrook, Ardens Grafton, and Roughknowles Wood, and more recently near Rouncil Lane, Kenilworth.
Our team is a model of enthusiasm and mutual support even though we realise we are getting a bit older and perhaps a bit slower, or am I just speaking for myself? However, we get the jobs done and enjoy ourselves.
Our Rights-of-way coordinator, Spencer Smith, who gives us excellent support, has the onus of ensuring we have all the tools, supplies and equipment needed for the jobs, and contingencies. Let’s hope we continue in the foreseeable future as we are!
Andrew Ireland 15 October 2015
The Work Party – 2014
A small group of Coventry Ramblers members have for many years, as one of a number of volunteer teams, been meeting monthly with Warwickshire Countryside Access officers to improve footpaths and bridleways.
The Work Party has been erecting kissing gates to replace stiles together with yellow-topped posts and signage. This improves access for less able walkers and cut down delays when larger walking groups have to pass over wobbly stiles!
Other tasks have been the installation of sleeper bridges and footbridges with handrails.
Although this work may sound onerous, the work parties are always fun and enjoyable.
- Near the Saxon Mill, near Warwick, our gang worked in conjunction with other groups to replace the old rotten boardwalk and beams.
- At Billesley, near Stratford, we installed steps on a steep and slippery path.
- A footpath near Baddesley Clinton, which had become a bog because a field drained right across it, has been transformed by 30 cm diameter land drain tubing, many tonnes of gravel and hard labour!
Local councils have written to express their appreciation of our work and we have had the support of local people.
Warwickshire Countryside Access officers do a great service in tackling land ownership and permission issues as well as all the planning and provision of tooling and materials.
We know there is much more to do, so please be patient!
Andrew Ireland, Coventry Ramblers – 024 7644 1009