In 2014 Turville Parish Council in Bucks consulted parishioners about how to spend its budget surplus to benefit the community. The surplus at 31 March was about £6,500 with further surpluses anticipated (for instance from Community Infrastructure Levy on large new properties in the parish).
After some discussion it agreed a three-year programme to remove the Himalayan Balsam from Turville Heath common (total estimated cost £7,500), and a two-year project to replace stiles on footpaths with gates. The latter made use of the Chiltern Society’s excellent Donate a Gate scheme, the plan being to replace four stiles in each of the two years at a total cost of £2,000.
The first four gates have been installed on Turville footpaths 17 and 19, between Summer Heath Wood and Southend, providing a stile-free walk from Turville Heath to Stonor in Oxfordshire.
If you walk from Summer Heath you come first to a wooden kissing-gate on the edge of the wood, which replaced the stile.
The other three gates are metal, which is unfortunate; they are banausic and unattractive in the landscape. However that is my personal view and I know some people prefer them.
The plan had been to have two stiles on footpath 17 and two on footpath 4 (between Turville Court and the entrance to Wormsley) replacing the stiles below. Unfortunately the landowner would not agree.
Although the parish council agreed the funding for two years, we now have a new council and the expenditure for the next four gates needs to be agreed at the March meeting. I have photographed most of the stiles in the parish, such as those below which could do with replacement.
However, the parish council’s aim is to select those which will make a stile-free walk, to get the most out of its investment.
After the parish council’s four there are still more stiles to tackle, and Donate a Gate is a good way to achieve the change. Of course there may be places where there is no livestock and no barrier is necessary. Gaps are definitely best!