This article lists some of our successes in improving rights of way.
New Bridge in Kennington
Local Path Warden Jim Parke notified the OCC of the potentially dangerous crossing of the stream that marks the boundary of Kennington and Radley parishes in Lower Sugworth Copse. The footpath is popular with local walkers and the planks across the stream could be very slippery. The OCC had the project on their books but no doubt the prompting from Jim raised its importance and a new bridge has recently been installed. The photos show the stream crossing before and after - a great improvement - and probably some broken bones prevented!
New Stile in Radley
A nice new stile has been installed along the hedge dividing the two playing fields in Radley.
Welcome work by the OCC Countryside Service
For some time we have notified OCC of a stretch of overgrown path which had inadequate stiles at either end. This is on path 373/17, leading off the Drayton to Sutton Courtenay road (almost opposite the end of Peep-O-Day lane). Council workers have now removed the top bar of both stiles and provided a step for the stile at the south end of the stretch. The photographs show before and after the work, showing how difficult it was to negotiate both stiles (top two) - and the improvements made. Well done the Countryside Service!
Bloomers Hole Bridge
Our Footpath Secretary John Orchard is a member of the Oxfordshire Local Access Forum and also reviews all local planning applications which might affect rights of way. As it happens his is also the Chairman of the Area Footpath Subcommittee. We work with the local authority to keep our local rights of way open well signposted and unobstructed. The photo shows the bridge at Bloomers Hole over the River Thames between Buscot and Lechlade. It was achieved after much hard work on the part of a previous group footpath secretary, Hugh Crawley. Its advent obviated a long detour away from the Thames and crossing St John's Bridge over which there is no pavement.
In 2007-08 we took part in the Use Your Paths Challenge and successfully walked every path in the Vale inside 12 months against the national target of 18 months. The photo shows a dead end path east of the A338 north east of East Hanney which most people will never see, but was all part of the UYP challenge! Check out SU445943.
A perhaps more historical experience of the project can be seen in these photos which show a fairly intact lock on the disused Wilts Berks canal south east of East Hanney.
The application to record the right of way over the Thame at Chippinghurst still awaits action by Oxfordshire after more than 6 years, and is likely to be at least another 6 before a start is made. The secretary of state for the environment has been asked again to assess the position and its implication for other lost-ways cases. At present we are 18th in the list and, upto now, an average of 3 cases are dealt with each year. A change in working policy and increased resources are needed.
The big issues with footpaths in the Vale are currently the in-fill of Radley Lakes, see the campaign website and the planned Upper Thames Reservoir.