Those familiar with the Cotswold Way near Dyrham will have seen the memorial bench to Cyril Trenfield who, along with Tony Drake, created the Cotswold Way over 50 years ago. Sadly the bench had rotted in the damp shaded ground, but the good news is that CWA has funded a replacement bench which has been recently erected by the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens a bit further up the trail with fine views across the Severn valley and Hinton Hill Fort.
As you’ll see from the before and after photographs below, the project on Leckhampton Hill above Cheltenham was completed in September 2021 with the generous support of the HF Holidays Pathways Fund. The result is ALL users now have access to the hill’s escarpment. Practically, the project involved re-ramping, smoothing and grading a 2-3 metre wide path on both sides of a gate virtually impassable by a wheelchair or pushchair. Logistically, it meant having to deliver to the site some 150 tonnes of limestone dust and Cotswold stone.
The CWA Trustees are delighted to report that HF Holidays have agreed to fully fund a major accessibility project on Leckhampton Hill. To quote from HF’s response to the CWA’s application to its Pathway Fund:
‘Were particularly encouraged by the opportunity that this project allows us to support our strategic goal of driving sustainability and that this project will allow walkers, families and disabled users to have access coupled with the opportunity to recover damage to the SSSI area of the Leckhampton Hill escarpment area of outstanding natural beauty’.
The background is that, on the Cotswold Way on Leckhampton Hill (SO 9523 1850), there’s a gate with extremely rough stony ground either side. The west side is barely passable by a disabled outdoor mobility scooter or pushchair. The east side is NOT passable at all. A flat area to the side of the path is being used to bypass the gate, but is damaging the SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) in the process.
The completed project will allow ALL users (walkers, families and disabled users) to have access to the majority of the Leckhampton Hill escarpment. Essentially it will involve re-ramping, smoothing and grading a 2-3 metre wide path on both sides of the gates. The work will involve some 150 tonnes of limestone dust and Cotswold stone and is expected to cost £7,500. It’s hoped to start the work in September, which will in accordance with Cheltenham Borough Council and Gloucestershire Public Rights of Way Office specifications.
The HF Pathways Fund has, for many years, provided assisted holidays to those who could not otherwise afford one. In addition, since 1998, the fund has helped to protect and improve the countryside where HF Holidays’ guests walk. This is achieved through generous donations from HF Holidays’ members and guests. HF Holidays offers guided walking holidays along the Cotswold Way from Harrington House at Bourton on the Water.
Here is a Mark Richards’ pen & ink drawing of the Devil’s Chimney that’s one of Leckhampton Hill’s outstanding features.
Lucy Miller is a long-distance runner who hails from Bath. Since January, she’s been quietly improving her fitness running the Cotswold Way in short segments. The more she’s done so, she says, the more she’s fallen in love with the trail’s picturesque and rugged remoteness. She decided the best way she could celebrate the Cotswold Way’s 50th anniversary was to set herself the challenge of running the 50 miles or so from Combe to Bath. In doing so, she hopes to raise £250 to support the CWA’s trail maintenance and improvement work.
Lucy’s run will take place on Sunday 2nd May 2021. She’ll be starting at Coombe near Wotton-Under-Edge at 8.00 and hopes to make Great Pulteney St in Bath around 14.00 It’s not a race, Lucy emphasises, but a one-off unsupported event.
Please make a donation if you can. Just click on Virgin Money Giving for the dedicated fundraising page Lucy’s set up.
Please also look out for Lucy on 2 May and give her your encouragement and support. Here’s a rough idea of planned timetable and where you might see her:
Hawkesbury Upton (10km): 9.00
Coomb’s End (20km): 10.30
Dyrham Park (30km): 11.30
Pipley Barn Cafe (40 km); 12.45
Great Pulteney St, Bath (50 km)
Many thanks and very best wishes from the CWA Trustees
The programme of improvements to the surface of the Cotswold Way in busy gateways continues with a repeat of the treatment recently carried out at Broadway, but this time near Hamswell, just north of Bath. Cows have been encroaching on the area and making the area very difficult in the winter. The work was carried out by a team of Cotswold Wardens from Avon District.
The popularity of the Cotswold Way means that gates get very heavy use and eventually wear out. This is the case at Stumps Cross, between Stanway and Hailes, and as a result the CWA has funded a smart new wooden kissing gate. The installation was carried out by a work party from the North District of the Cotswold Wardens.
The most popular section of the Cotswold Way is between Broadway and the Tower and walkers will probably notice an improvement to one of the soggiest parts of the route. Working with the Cotswold Wardens, we’ve put down geo-textile, ecogrid, stone and a french drain to fix the problem. Many thanks to Neil Hilton of Broadway for his generous donation to make this possible.
The CWA is working with the Cotswold AONB Trails Officer to identify projects which the Trustees can support. The sort of things we have in mind are …
- Provision of handrails to help on the steeper slopes.
- Surface improvements in sections that are particularly muddy.
- Modifications to gates and replacing stiles to make sections of the trails more accessible to child buggies, wheelchairs and “Tramper” disability scooters.
The Cotswold Way and its circular routes are the CWA’s priority but the Trustees will also consider funding improvements on other named Cotswold trails. These are the Winchcombe, Wardens, Windrush and Diamond Ways, plus the Cotswold sections of the Wychavon, Monarchs, Macmillan, Heart of England, Gloucestershire and Wysis Ways.
We hope to compile a list of projects at the end of April so that they can be prioritized for implementation during the summer.
Kissing gates undoubtedly improve access on the Cotswold Way but their constant use often makes them wet and muddy so the CWA has embarked on a trial project to improve the surface around a few kissing gates. The first project has been completed on a gate where the trail crosses West End Lane, SW of Broadway using eco plastic grid, geo-textile and gravel. The location is point A as shown here.
The CWA has recently coordinated the construction of a bridge and gate over a particularly muddy section of the Diamond Way south of Daylesford (point A as shown here). The work was jointly funded by the North Cotswold Walkers, the North Cotswold Ramblers and the CWA, and was carried out by the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens. The Diamond Way is one of the named long distance trails which link with the Cotswold Way and is supported by the CWA. Other supported trails can be found on Other Trails
The Cotswold Way Association has recently funded a much needed handrail along the steep steps at Bunkers Bank, near Haresfield Beacon. The installation was carried out by a work party from Central District of the Cotswold Voluntary Wardens. No more will you have to risk twisted ankle or a wet backside to get down this section of the trail.
Those of you who have walked on the Cotswold Way in wet weather as it climbs above the recreation ground in Weston will probably remember the difficulty in standing upright on the slippery path. There are reports of walkers finishing up on their backsides and one even ended up with a broken leg. This should now be a thing of the past as CWA has just completed a path improvement project which involved the installation of a 45 metre long handrail. The work was carried out by Cotswold Voluntary Wardens – Avon District with funding for materials provided by the Cotswold Way Association. The CWA was set up to implement just this kind of improvement project and further projects are planned for other sections of the trail.
Cotswold Warden Jennifer Shaw on her August patrol met a couple of US tourists walking south from Birdlip. They talked at length about their difficulties crossing from Crickley Hill Park to the Air Balloon the previous day. The road was very busy – late afternoon on a Friday – and it took them over twenty minutes to get across. Some of this time was spent looking for an alternative crossing point but of course there isn’t one. The Cotswold Warden had heard similar stories before, so kicked ideas around with John her husband, wanting to try to find an easier crossing. Between them they devised a possible route involving crossing the A436 from Crickley Hill Park and then going through the wooded margin alongside the roundabout and the eastbound A417 to meet the Gloucestershire Way and use it to meet an unclassified road that passes under the A417 at Barrow Wake.
This would add around half a mile to the existing route, and would also increase safety for walkers using the Gloucestershire Way. The scheme has been shared with the Gloucestershire CC Rights Of Way Officer and the Area Highways Manager responsible for the A436. They have undertaken to discuss its viability with Highways England who are responsible for the A417. Much depends on who owns the land.
- If the scheme is accepted as viable we hope some of the work clearing ground and constructing a new footpath can be done by the Cotswold Wardens. Have you a story to tell about how you made this crossing?
- Have you any comments to make on the proposal for a new crossing?
- Please get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us have your views.
Following a request for funding, the CWA have contributed towards some welcomed improvements to access on a section of the Gloucestershire Way and Winchcombe Way at Little Farmcote. After climbing the escarpment out of Winchcombe and legs a little tired, a narrow stile on the path overlooking the Farmcote valley has been replaced with a kissing gate. Further along the trail a quirky set of sheep hurdles tied with baler twine has been replaced with a combination field gate, a gate within a gate to speed walkers on their way.