Ridgway National Trail Winter Newsletter
The latest edition of the Ridgeway National Trail Newsletter focusses on Bishopstone and new signs connecting the Thatched village to one of our national trails. Should you be interested in this and other articles the newsletter can be found by clicking here
In the winter issue of the Ridgeway National Trail Newsletter is
- making better Trail connections with Bishopstone
- seeing a red spot on Dragon Hill
- checking out a study which could restore verges of chalk grassland along the Trail
- listing some festive events to attend
- finding out about the Vale of the White Horse Ramblers
- and more besides…
Please enjoy reading it.
Thames Path at Inglesham
We are very pleased to report that after several years negotiation with landowners the Thames Path National Trail at Inglesham has been re-routed beside the river. Walkers will no longer have to endure a mile-long stretch of road verge beside the busy A361. The new route provides lovely views of the tranquil river. The route map is available on the National Trails website: https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/thames-path/news/thames-path-inglesham-new-route-open-walkers
We would like to thank Swindon Borough Council’s rights of way team and the Thames Path National Trail Partnership for their efforts in bringing this about.
To a map of the updated route please click on the map image.
Cropped Path Success
Last November we reported to Swindon Council a public footpath across a field that had been sown with oil seed rape and through which the farmer had made no attempt to indicate the line of the path or keep it clear of the crop. Since then, the Council have inspected the path and a number of others in the surrounding area which were also cropped on several occasions. In April, when the oil seed rape was over a metre tall and in flower (see first photo) the Council took action. They served eight legal notices on landowners or farmers for eight public footpaths obstructed by cereals and oil seed rape in nine separate fields giving them a week to clear and reinstate the paths. All of those paths were cleared within the required time (see second photo). Due to the history of those landowners and farmers the Council is also considering a prosecution in the Magistrates Court, which could result in fines up to £4,000 as well as payment towards the Council’s costs.
This shows that reporting of such problems by The Ramblers can achieve results; we thank the Council’s Rights of Way Manager and his colleagues for the action taken.
|Oilseed Rape Before
||Oilseed Rape After
||Oilseed Rape Inadequate Clearance
Pictures courtesy of Swindon Borough Council.
Beware of Phishing Emails
Ramblers Central Office have recently sent emails warning of phishing emails being sent to members. These emails will ask the recipient to enter personal details (including bank information) so that they can be used later by an unauthorised individual.
Note: Ramblers will not request Bank or Personal Information via email. Should you believe you need to do so please contact central office directly using telephone numbers on the Ramblers Central Office website.
Central office are seeking to improve security which will further protect their systems. However, as always please ensure you follow the recommendations below.
- NEVER disclose personal information via email.
- If you receive a suspicious email DO NOT open any attachments or click on any links.
- Ensure your computer is up to date with Anti-Virus and Anti-Malware software.
- Do not respond to or forward suspicious emails to other people.
In the event you believe that your account may have been compromised. Change your password immediately and (if appropriate) contact the relevant organisation by phone.
For further details regarding the Ramblers Central Office warning, please click here.
2026 - Don't Lose Your Way
If we don’t take action now, you may see a lot more signs like this in the future:There is a well-known maxim which underpins rights of way law: “once a highway, always a highway”. What this means is that if the public’s right of way over a path was established at some time in the past and has not been legally extinguished, that right still exists even if the path is not shown on modern maps and has not been used for many years. But from 2026 onwards, the maxim will no longer hold true. Unless action is taken before 31 December 2025 to “claim” the historic right of way over the path, it will be lost for ever. There are hundreds if not thousands of these paths throughout the country. There are bound to be plenty of them in Wiltshire. Not all of them will be useful, but many will fill important gaps in the network, avoiding the need to walk on a busy road or enabling existing “dead end” paths to be brought back into use. We need to do a lot of historical research to identify these paths and find the evidence which would enable us to claim them, so that they can be added to the definitive map and not be lost. Many other Ramblers Areas are well ahead of us in this process; some already have up to 50 paths ready to claim. We now have less than 9 years to go, so we need to get 'DON’T LOSE YOUR WAY' going. We plan to work with other organisations which also have a keen interest in protecting rights of way, such as the British Horse Society. One of the reasons why it is important that Ramblers Wiltshire and Swindon Area carries out this work is that it was a Wiltshire path – Crudwell 26 – that was the subject of a test case that went all the way to the Court of Appeal. In July 2015 the court ruled that when, in the early 19th century, inclosure awards were made by the Inclosure Commissioners, the setting out of a path across land as a public right of way had legal effect as to the status of that path. Crudwell 26 has now been added to the definitive map. Inclosure awards are therefore one of the sources of evidence we need to look for. We will need plenty of volunteers to help us with this task. You do not need any prior knowledge of rights of way law or its history to do this.
We are looking for a range of different interests, skills and experience. Do you like looking at old maps? Are you a local historian?
Have you undertaken research at the Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre in Chippenham, the National Archives at Kew or any other records centre, in order to research your family tree or for any other reason?
Are you a photographer with experience of taking pictures of documents?
Alternatively, can you help us identify the paths we should be investigating? Do you walk on paths which are not marked as rights of way on the OS map?
Are there paths near you which stop for no apparent reason, for example at a parish boundary?
Have you lived in the same area for a long time?
Did you walk paths as a child which no longer exist? If so, please tell us where they are.
Do you know anyone else (whether or not they are a Ramblers member) who falls into any of these categories?
Tim Lewis Area, Footpath Secretary