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Spring 2010 – Newsletter

Walking Festivals 2010

The National Forest Walking Festival will be held in May.  The programme of walks will be incorporated into a booklet with other walking festivals which are being held in Derbyshire.  This is a combined programme for 5 walking festivals which jointly makes it the biggest walking event in England.   Our Association will lead a walk from Markfield on the 22nd May which will be led by Heather and myself and will take walkers on the recently extended footpath at Sandhills Lodge where the Association donated £300 towards way marking etc.

The Leicestershire Walking festival has proposed dates from the 4th to the 12th September 2010.

The committee of the LFA have agreed to offer maybe two or three walks of short A sculpture at Burghley Parkduration directed at attracting new walkers and family walkers.  These walks will not be on the programme of walks printed for members.  This will hopefully attract novice walkers and children with their parents.

Monument in a field

Monument to Percy Pilcher

On a winter Thursday walk led by Judy, a monument was noticed in a field just South of the river Avon (just in Northamptonshire) near to Stanford Hall.  Two members of the group went to the middle of a cornfield to discover more.  The monument was a memorial to Percy PILCHER, inventor and pioneer aviator. In 1899 whilst flying a hawk, the tail snapped and he fell 30 feet to the ground. He died two days later from his injuries. There is a model of the hawk in Stanford Hall which can be seen during opening times. The area surrounding Stanford Hall has a number of rights of way and there is a lot of pasture land which makes walking less arduous. If any member is interesting in visiting this site then the grid reference is  SP595792 – Explorer Map 222

Impact on a footpath used by other protest groups

The most significant use of the impact on a footpath by a protest group that comes to my mind is the objection to the diversion of a path which stood in the way of the runway extension at East Midlands Airport. Along the same lines we received a letter, considered at the December 2009 committee meeting, from Mrs K about the proposed housing development at Leicester Forest East. A group of people who live there feel very strongly that the proposed development will damage their environment in every way. They were asking if there is any way in which we might support their campaign. The meeting felt that, although we are very sympathetic to this predicament, it is not something in which we should get involved.   BJ pointed out that it is possible that the footpaths in the area would be retained. We have also been asked to comment on windfarm proposals. Should the LFA become involved in the wider campaigning or should we limit our comment on path proposals simply to the impact on users of the path?

Also discussed, at the December committee meeting, was the proposed cycle track at Narborough (see below). There had been 950 objections to this scheme to combine a footpath with a cycle track. We did agree to this originally with the suggestion that the path should be clearly marked. The track is too narrow in part for this to happen. Should we take a single issue view of footpaths for those on foot only or look at changes of the whole rights of way network for all users?

Cycle Tracks Act, 1984

In July 2009 your committee did not object to an application for the conversion of a footpath to shared use cycle track between Forest Road and King Edward Avenue, Narborough. The Ramblers Association and the Parish Council also did not object. Local people organised a petition and 950 objections were made against this conversion. As a cycle track is not a category of a way required to be shown on a definitive map, the effect of converting a footpath into a cycle track is to require its removal from the Definitive Map. However, Section 36 of the Highways Act, 1980 provides on conversion for the cycle track to become a highway maintainable at public expense. Where only part of the width of the footpath has been converted (this was not the case at Narborough)  there would be two distinct but adjacent ways; a cycle track and a footpath.

It will now be up to the Highways Department to decide whether to try and get the order confirmed which will mean a local public inquiry. The cost of such an inquiry and the time element involved in attending same may well prove to be a crucial factors in their decision.

1st Feb. 2010 I have received a letter today from County Hall to advise our Association the Cycle Track Order at Narborough has been abandoned. This will be good news for people living locally who were so against the making of the order.

The anomaly of maps

I had a book bought me for Christmas which I eagerly read, “Map Addict” by Mike Parker. It was an interesting read for the most part and it reminded me of a question I once posed myself. When looking at maps I try to visualise what the landscape actually looks like. The information on the map tells us a lot like the church has a spire and stands on a hill overlooking a lake. Interpreting this information prompts the thought, that looks a nice place to explore. Sometimes this is correct but a visit can also be disappointing. So I pose the question, if an area that looks interesting on the map proves to be less interesting on the ground, conversely there must be areas that don’t look interesting on the map that in reality are worth a visit but how to identify them?

Not quite a resolution of this conundrum but a recent walk around Stamford found one such location. I’ve been intending for some time to use the dead end path that discreetly leaves the town at the corner of Burghley Lane and Park Lane, St Martins and enters Burghley Park. The folk of Stamford are surely not content to walk along this path to the end, turn round and return home? Google to the rescue. I found the Burghley website which offered some hope of access but access to wander the park is different to devising a circular walk. Then I found a feature in the Independent from August 2006. No map but a decent description of a walk devised by Chris T (Nottingham RA), this gave hope of other access points. A visit concluded the investigation. The walk is offered to you on Tuesday 27th April, meet Easton on the Hill 10am.

Permissive Paths

Occasionally you come across notices with maps attached, introducing you to permissive footpaths. Whilst pre-walking in and around Belton-in-Rutland recently, I found two such paths.

The first leaves the Rutland Round at Grid Reference SK822010 and  links up with a definitive right of way at SK823016.  This path runs parallel to a brook (on the West side) which drains into the Eyebrook. You cross three grass fields with stiles.

The second is South West of Ridlington and provides a link between one  footpath taking you in the direction of Belton and a bridleway taking you to the top of Wardley Hill. The Grid References are SK837022 to SK842018. Wonderful views are afforded when walking between these two points. The above routes were walked on a Wednesday Winter walk. On a Saturday walk some members explored a new route to the North of Burrough Hill. The County Council have provided this route through the small wood on the North side. This provides an option for those who do not wish to climb to the top or are unable to do so. Brian

Vaughan Archaeological and Historical Society, Leicester

The Society was formed in 1947 and membership is open to people interested in Archaeology and History, particularly of Leicestershire and Rutland. The group hold lectures at Vaughan College, St Nicholas Circle, Leicester LE1 4LB

April 23: The W G Hoskins Lecture: Leicestershire Footpaths: preserving historical  byways – Heather MacDermid


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