Piddington path-check: day 1

Our local Ramblers try to check every path in our territory at least once a year. The Ramblers Buckinghamshire, Milton Keynes and West Middlesex Area appoints path checkers who take on one or more parishes and walk the paths, record their condition and report problems to the highway authority (Bucks County Council, Milton Keynes Council or the London Boroughs of Brent, Ealing, Harrow, Hillingdon or Hounslow).

This year I took on Piddington and Wheeler End parish as it had become vacant.  This is in Bucks and the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, to the west of High Wycombe and about three miles from home.

The parish is bordered by Bledlow-cum-Saunderton and Radnage to the north, Stokenchurch to the west, Lane End to the south, and High Wycombe and West Wycombe to the west.  It has been created fairly recently from part of West Wycombe Rural parish.

12-view-to-w-wyc-from-parish-boundary

On the parish boundary, looking east to West Wycombe

I had walked some of these paths in 2009-10 when I was doing the British Trust for Ornithology’s bird atlas, but it was good to focus on one parish and to walk all the 28 routes.  It took me about 14 hours to cover them all, spread over four visits.  I had to walk some routes more than once to reach other paths.  I was surprised by the variety of paths and scenery in such a small area.

8-fp-25-gt-cockshoots-wood

Footpath 25 through Great Cockshoots Wood

Piddington is a small settlement to the south of the A40 on the side of the hill.  Wheeler End is a scattering of houses around the common.

web-the-common

Wheeler End common

The first day, 10 July, I walked north of the A40 which splits the parish in two.  I made a big circuit, heading north along bridleway 17 to the top of the hill, over to Bottom Road, and back in a loop taking in some paths in Radnage.  I stopped frequently to cut back vegetation with my secateurs.  However, this on footpath 25 was too much.   The adjoining headland path is clear but the definitive route goes between the hedges

16-fp-25-overgrown-looking-e

Footpath 25, overgrown

On bridleway 17 I found a fallen tree blocking a bridleway.  I reported this and was pleased to find by 28 August that it had been removed.

22-bw-17-fallen-tree-looking-s

Bridleway 17 blocked by fallen tree

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Cleared

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were a number of difficult stiles.

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Stile on footpath 26 – not to British Standard 5709

The path on the ground and on the definitive map do not tally at Ham Farm.

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Footpath 24 on the map goes through the gates but instead is directed over the stile.

I ventured into Radnage parish and, with the agreement of the Radnage path-checker, reported an extremely overgrown path at Green End Farm.

34-radnage-fp-27-looking-se

Radnage footpath 27

There were examples of good practice, such as footpath 23, the most northerly path in the parish, which has not been ploughed and is now a wide, clear route over the fields.

27-fp-23-looking-sw

Footpath 23 looking south west

It was good to see the patch of access land to the left of the pylon on the slope near Chawley Manor Farm; the Ramblers fought for this under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act.

26-on-bottom-road-looking-n-to-access-land

As I walk my parish I am also thinking about routes which may have been omitted from the definitive map, or recorded at the incorrect status as I shall in due course want to research these.  If I can gather sufficient historic or user evidence I shall apply for them to be added to the map.  I felt that footpath 28/1, with its wide sunken route between Old Dashwood Hill and Ham Farm, should probably have a higher status.

39-fp-28-1

The sunken route of footpath 28, surely higher status than a footpath?

Later I filled in the form for our group footpath secretary, listing the paths I walked (these are divided into sections or links between junctions with other paths; some only have one section, some as many as four) and using codes to describe problems.  The most frequent were difficult stiles, overgrowth and missing waymarks.

Reported
I reported problems to Bucks County Council using the website. You get an acknowledgement and number to track progress.  Annoyingly the website frequently says a matter is ‘resolved’ when it is not at all, I suspect that just means that the council has passed it on to someone to deal with.  And then it doesn’t tell you when it has actually done it.  So I know I shall have to go round and check again.

That was my first day out, a lovely sunny afternoon in July.  I shall report my other visits in future blogs.

47-view-from-fp-24-1

View south west from footpath 24.

 

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About campaignerkate

I am the general secretary of the Open Spaces Society and I campaign for public access, paths and open spaces in town and country.
This entry was posted in Access, AONB, Bucks, Ramblers, Ramblers' path-check, walking and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Piddington path-check: day 1

  1. ossjay says:

    Always useful to see through your eyes what can be done, and what remains. The website and its use of “resolved” is common: “tick-box” thinking. Sometimes I tweet as well in order to make someone else notice and check.
    I remember Piddington from my time in Lord Jersey Football Association until 1989 – they had a decent team.

  2. Thanks Jay. I think you are thinking of the Oxfordshire Piddington, near Bicester. I doubt my Piddington has a football team.

  3. Sandra Rooney says:

    CWW were also walking in Radnage today Kate. Sad to say part of the Chiltern Way, Footpath BCS/62 was completely impassable with brambles and we had to turn back and walk along the road. Needless to say I have reported the problem on the Bucks website

  4. V sorry to hear that, thanks for reporting. The one I reported is RDN 27/1 but I haven’t been back to check yet. They never tell us when they have actually done it!

  5. Hugh says:

    FP 28 didn’t get that way just with feet! It looks like an old road eclipsed by the turnpike (Old Dashwood Hill). It appears as a road on the OS one inch first edition.

  6. Good! I just haven’t got round to looking them up yet, I have a few in the parish.

    • Pat says:

      I believe this was previously known as Featherbed Lane. There are references in old newspaper reports about the London/Oxford stage being held up or involved in accidents in Featherbed Lane – a steep hill between West Wycombe and Stokenchurch.

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