Buzzed by the landowner’s helicopter and served with his best biscuits, the PONS group of aging masculinity wended their weary way to the top of Rodge Hill. Here they rebuilt the Worcestershire Way multi-fingered signpost and the seat on the hill top. Meanwhile on the rest of Martley’s 40 miles of paths grass continued to grow apace. Ah well, get the mowers out. Continue reading →
Sunday April 17th 2016 bright and chilly, great day for bridge building and a bit of ribaldry or perhaps rivalry.
On John Yeomans field, opposite Barbers with its VTT (very tall tree), a washaway of a culverted bridge that used to deliver a very pleasant footpath (footpaths can be pleasant) into the meadows beyond and up to Highfields. Reported in 2007 after the GREAT FLOODS, the PONS, with their usual alacrity, rushed on to site in 2016 with lots of (competing) ideas, most of which were executed in the next couple of hours by rival groups. There were the bridge boys, who constructed, fitted and painted a magnificent wooden cantilever leaving footgangers with no place to go, as the field gate, the next obstacle, opened the wrong way, threatening wipe off into the chasm below. There was the damn and causeway group that spent much time regressing to their youth, moving rocks, breaking concrete and damning the stream so it went the ‘right way’, all with shouts of ‘isn’t this fun’ and ‘do you remember when we used to do this’?
Andy P came in for some special focus. Standing in the rushing water he just could not seem to understand JP’s instructions even with the gallery of onlookers interpreting for him. He was last seen rummaging about in the nail box for his tablets.
At the end of it all, and the gate opening swing reversed by spanner man Tom, there were TWO ways to cross-by bridge and by causeway. Pipes cleaned, the grateful water tinkled its way downstream to join its bigger brother (oh alright, sibling then) the Laugherne Brook, on its way creating quite a water feature over rocks in the bed, constructed exclusively for us by Simon ‘Charlie Dimmock’ Honeyborne.
Two other smaller tasks were undertaken. Ben and John C strode up field to replace a waymark post that has a history of being knocked down by the local livestock that uses it as a rubbing post. The animals won’t have much trouble to repeat their vandalism this time, because a few days later we took a secret film of a very wobbly post, easy to lift out of the hole. As I am rushing off on hols I haven’t time to uplift the film but it is here in case of need. The other errand was to clean up and replace steps where the footpath leaves the B4204. No problem, done and dusted but there was an add on to this–the signpost cannot be seen across the field, so an unnamed person who is about to go on leave, nailed a long wooden pole so that it stuck up to provide a sightline. It looks ridiculous when you drive past and may cause accidents. It doesn’t help as a sight line either, much too short. Ah well.
Funny old car and bike scrapyard tucked away on Hillside close by Alan’s little B&W cottage which must run to different time standards as we saw nothing of its occupants in spite of as much noise as we could make. Whilst a small group set off doing a tree surgeon’s round on Penny and Rodge Hills, the ranks set to to remove the old rotten style, dig out holes then put JP’s hand made job back in, and very good it looked too (it IS upright, honest, Ian’s iPhone proved it). Simon’s bang with a large hammer on the southern upright made it more so after we thought we had it very firmly fixed in place. Three or four steps, job done. Jan’s welcome coffee in the Pudford Lane lay bye then early doors to unload at JP’s.
For the record, problems on nearby MT570–bars across the path and a rotten stile reported to County in June 15 with no result–have re-reminded them as of today and asked what we should do–thanks Ian for raising this.
21st Feb 2016
Well, this little ole corner of, yes, Wichenford has seen life, it really has. Plenty.
If it were not recorded here its history would go unremembered but this little corner was on the edge of a long running fight for the protection of our rights of way against enclosures by those who thought they could ride rough shod over laws governing our highways.
The hedge line we worked on today forms the boundary between the parishes of Martley and Wichenford. For much of the length of this boundary there are rights of way on both sides. Silly really but that is how it is. Ross Green is not called Ross Green for nothing. It was well, a green–a common open area within a village or other settlement. Traditionally, a village green was often common grassland at the centre of an agricultural or other rural settlement, and was used for grazing. Some also have a pond, often originally for watering stock such as cattle (WikiP).
Behind the five houses on the Wichenford (East) side of the boundary hedge, there used to run a street width access way, long forgotten but until about 15 years ago, still extant i.e. in existence in law.
One particular senior rights of way officer at County Hall decided that this route (among many others he focussed on), must be opened up. This was to prove very difficult indeed, as the house owners had taken the area into their gardens. Protests reached John Major. Many antagonistic meetings were held, counter arguments put forward but in the end it was imposed that the wide right of way could be extinguished if the local farmer would allow the route to be transferred to the other side i.e. the Martley side of the hedge line. Cash changed hands, quite a bit actually, and the old Wichenford route for the length behind the five houses, was placed on the Martley side, on top of, those who have been following the story so far will realize, a footpath that already existed –in those days numbered Martley 40. Peculiarly the footpath on the Martley side crossed the hedge line into Wichenford more or less where we worked today and followed only the Wichenford side of the hedge as Wichenford 1, until the road was reached. It crossed the road, ran on the Wichenford side for some way then, at the next lane (near Ben’s house) changed into a bridleway on the west of the hedge line in Bulmers’ orchards, the old Stocks Lane, with a footpath on the eastern (Wichenford) side. Another bit of peculiar is that the parish boundary crosses the hedge line where a cross field path joins the main route on the way back to the road (are you following this or just tired?)
So what does this have to do with where we worked today? Well in fact for a few yards just at this corner, the route on the definitive map, being the legal document, is not as it was laid out on the ground. Even though as I understand it, County was very much involved with the change in route, it will not therefore at this point, sanction anything we do to make the route safer or provide any materials that we might need as they could be seen to be accepting an illegal routing. Here is a map:
Surely it is here that local common sense takes over from the ass of the law? A bit of live and let live with no harm to anyone.
From the furthest South to the furthest North, beautifully organised with no wasted driving around the parish for hours.
Those posts are not upright (or is it the bloody idiots in yellow?)
John N, Ben C, John C, Ian P, Jon P, Rob D, Simon H, Andy P, Mike I, Tom P rarely as large a group as this, must be nearing the time of funny milk.
Where were we then?, First the South, two new signposts:
The North, replaced very heavy gate post, cleared scrub, installed and signed new waymark post; routes 812, 813 and 814 split here with this little postage stamp sized bit of Martley North of Ockeridge Lane
No, that way, blimey you live locally, don’t you know the paths round ‘ere?
Darth Vader put in a guest appearance too. Spot the new post
Something like the Russian Army on manoeuvres arrived, terrified the locals and swept off not to be seen hereabouts for another 20 years
Bulmers yes, but before that a route on the popular Walk No.10 that Ian had spotted last month needed full length clearance, hedge trimming and attention to the stile. Route 539 on map below:
Route 639 from Pudford Farm to B4204
Some sort of altercation over parking, with a ‘got out of the bed on the wrong side’ Kevin Wickens left us wondering about valley folk. After the above, off to Bulmers. Ben (and Simon) painted hundreds of trees after the style of Monet, i.e. somewhat blurred and smudged (routes 604, 605, 608, 595). Waymark posts were re-discovered in the undergrowth and several re-installed. The bridge on 595 showed signs of collapse so JP and gang erected a quality support leg under the defective longeron. Dozens of trees were cleared of overhanging branches on route 595. All in all a good day and Bulmers, an area not visited for a couple of years was left in good state. Later Tim (thanks Tim) cleared a wide swathe on route 595 across to B4197.
In addition the team completed clearance of overgrowth on causeway 602 and resigning of route 600 with additional waymark post.
A record of several journeys into the jungles of our local paths during the month.
Most exciting thing that happened was the phone call received after clearing paths along Mike Nott’s garden panelling. We cut back a very overhanging barrier of honeysuckle (I think) that severely impeded progress along the right of way. Mike, in good humour to be fair, but harried from behind I was made to understand, wanted to know why we had cut it back, it not being the end of the month of August n’all. After this date it seems, vegetation can be tackled with vengeance and no fear of retribution and imprisonment from jobsworths at DEFRA. I suggested that the 16th August wasn’t too distant from the end of the month so maybe punishment would be withheld. I asked him if it was his spaniel that had rushed out and bitten us and what did he think about that (it was and it didn’t). Anyway he praised the PONS for the work they do.
Mike Nott’s Area FP740 cleared
Apart from that little task, good progress was made around Quarry Farm , near Mel Farmers and the path off Pudford Lane between Hollins Lane and B4297
Quarry Farm Area FP555. 556 (all round the quarry) cleared
Mel Farmer’s Area, FP704 and 705 cleared
Tuesday 18th Ian, Simon and self cleared paths around Aldens and David Harrisons–those not done a month ago then Ben went out on 20th and 21st to clear off some stiles–thanks Ben. He worked his way down Pudford Lane, also along the road towards the Masons (not sure how long that took) and up Easinghope Lane area too , excellent thanks. Thanks too to Alan Gosling who checked out a couple of machines this month.
Aldens and David Harrisons Area FP 640 and 641 parts cleared and 620
Given that many could not be with us today there was a good turn out of eight on a mission to deal a fatal blow to the massive growth on paths between Ross’s Lane and Brook Court. So massive that the route through the ‘new’ spinney on Trevor Sanders land was scarcely traceable. With teams operating in three places excellent progress was made on all of the routes in this quarter of the parish, indeed all routes were cleared and hopefully this will last to the end of the season. Thanks to Ben, Tom, Tim, Charlotte, Colin, John C, Mike and of course to Jan with coffee and wow, cake. The walk behinds tho are showing signs of all the very hard work so some in depth maintenance is needed, immediately in the case of one of them. A good day to be out, warm but what wonderful weather.
Routes cleared:622, 628, 638, 640, 631, 637, 632, 634, 646, 633
28th June is late in the year to start clearance of Martley’s paths, very late; a few turned out and were soon lost in a welter of nettles, brambles and burdock. At least we made a start and a difference too–the up river path from Ham Bridge–hadn’t been cleared in around 100 years,Simon says he remembers doing it, is now open; many styles too.
Mothering Sunday, 15th March 15 or Mothers’ Day is it these modern days? Good turn out and much done including The Nubbins, a job that has been on the list for years probably near a decade, so big sense of achievement when completed. We cleaned up the steps at the bottom, moved the path on to its correct line and replaced steps at base of steep hill, installed a stubby waymark post at the top of the hill to provide a sight line for those coming from the field above and cut steps in the rock/earth from the top down on the steepest part. They will be eroded but we made the effort. Later, replaced a broken signpost on Ankerdine and strengthened a stile and replaced its step right down in the South of the parish near Wants Green. Good stuff–thanks all who attended.