Terrible Tetsworth (pathwise)

On 20 June I carried out my fourth and final bird survey around Tetsworth in Oxfordshire, for the River Thame Conservation Trust and found that the public paths are still in a terrible state. 

My first visit was on 17 November last year when I encountered and reported several illegal obstructions, ie so-called stiles, on the paths.  Not one of them has been fixed.  And on 25 May I reported a padlocked gate obstructing bridleway 28, one the few routes across the A40, which leads to Oxhouse Farm and beyond.  That too was still padlocked a month later.  I see on the council’s website that it was first reported on 1 April.

BW28 (3)

Bridleway 28, obstructed with padlocked gates

BW28 (5)

Two padlocks

Oxhouse Farm

Oxhouse Farm

If I can find out who the landowner is I may send a warning, pointing out this is a criminal offence under section 137 of the Highways Act 1980, or serving a notice on the county council (section 130A).

When I looked on Oxfordshire County Council’s path-report map I found that many of the problems here were reported over a decade ago, and have not yet been addressed.  Does no one want to walk and ride in Tetsworth?

FP 382-17 stile

This obstruction of footpath 17 was reported in January 2010. I have reported it again

In addition to the awful stiles, I found one path obstructed with a crop of beans

FP 382-12 obstructed by beans

Footpath 12 should go to the pole in the distance, but is illegally obstructed by beans.

and another with a crop of barley.

FP 382-12 obstructed by barley

Footpath 12 should head off from the track over the field. It is illegally obstructed by barley

Footpath 18 is overgrown and cropped.

FP18 overgrown and obstructed with crop

Footpath 18 is overgrown and obstructed with crops

I have reported all three.

However, unlike the paths, the birds were good.  I logged 29 species which I saw or heard.  The hedgerows were full of whitethroats and yellowhammers, with many skylarks singing overhead.

Haseley Brook
Because of the distribution of paths, in order to walk for two hours within my tetrad (SP60Q) I had to leave the square near Latchford (stopping the clock, as I needed to spend at least two hours in my square).  I re-entered the tetrad where the path crosses the Haseley Brook, the boundary between Great Haseley and Wheatfield parishes.  I happened to pause here, and am glad I did, for I heard a faint whirring and wondered whether it was a grasshopper warbler.

Haseley Brook1

By the Haseley Brook, looking south-east, where I heard a grasshopper warbler

I had to come back the same way, so about an hour later, at 8.15, I stopped to listen.  Sure enough, there were a few short snatches which sounded very much like a gropper.  I checked with Nick Marriner who runs the surveys, and sent him photos.  He came straight back, commenting that they go quiet quite quickly but do have a bit of a second wind, and he confirmed it was the right habitat.  A year tick and much joy for me.

Haseley Brook 2

By the Haseley Brook

Haseley Brook 3







Top numbers this time were wren and blackbird (13), whitethroat (12), woodpigeon (10) and yellowhammer (9).  Despite the state of the paths, I have enjoyed discovering the evidently forgotten country around Tetsworth.

Below, just for interest, I have set out the problems which I have reported (and found that others had reported previously).  I’ll let you know when anything happens!


Path problems at Tetsworth which I have reported (and others have reported previously)

Date reported Path no Grid ref Problem OCC ref Prev


20.11.19 BW28 SP682013 No waymark 957439 None
20.11.19 BW28/

FP12 & 29 jct



Terrible stile 158885 None
20.11.19 FP14 SP675013 Terrible stile 576080 06.15 None
20.11.19 FP13,14,17 SP678014 Terrible stile 876736 01.10 None
19.01.20 FP22 SP684018 Terrible stile 943292 01.10 None
19.01.20 FP22 & BW28 SP682018 Padlocked gate 704241 07.15 None
25.05.20 BW28 SP682018 Padlocked gate 985645841305 04.20 None
20.06.20 FP12 SP677015 Beans 214845 None
20.06.20 FP12 SP674014 Barley 525372 None
20.06.20 FP18 SP67504 Path over-

grown & cropped

136720 06.13, 11.17 None
20.06.20 FP17 SP678014 Terrible stile 623337 01.10 None


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, Birds, Obstructed path, Public paths, walking and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Terrible Tetsworth (pathwise)

  1. John Bainbridge says:

    Hammer them.

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