The 1984 Oakridge Society Footpath Improvement Scheme
The village of Oakridge Lynch in the South Cotswolds is built on a steep slope overlooking the Frome Valley. Because of the gradient, roads in the village are winding and often circuitous, and the residents rely on the hard surface footpaths giving steep, but more direct, access to such places as the village shop, the school, the pub, the church and the chapel and the village hall.
Fortunately too narrow for vehicles these pathways retain a rural charm often revealing views of great beauty. No public body appears to have overall responsibility for them, or money available to do much work to them, but a great deal is done by adjoining owners in cutting verges and re-building fallen walls.
THE IMPROVEMENT PROJECT
For some years there has been serious concern about the bad state of the surfaces of some of these footpaths, particularly where the damage is being constantly made worse by weather erosion.
In 1984 the opportunity arose for. the Oakridge Society to submit to the Civic Trust a proposal for improvement. This project is not only concerned with repairing the surface of footpaths, it encourages the growth of wild flowers and the planting, in suitable places, of indigenous low growing shrubs and ground cover to inhibit nettles and brambles. Some drainage is also necessary and so is a handrail at a very steep part of the most used path.
The paths have names derived from local characters, such as 'Twissels', 'Maria's Pitch' and 'Shadrecks', and the older generation can recount many stories of the personalities who gave rise to these names. One of the aims of the project is to preserve for posterity the names of the paths by unpretentious stone carving let into the walls as suitable places.
A survey of the paths and what grows there was carried out by the children in May and their work formed part of the submission to the Civic Trust. The outcome of this submission has been a grant of £500 towards the estimated total cost of £2,635.
The Parish Council has supported the scheme from the beginning and has been quick to respond with a vote of £750 and a promise to consider a further allocation in the next financial year. A large part of the cost will therefore come from public funds and the award, but if the project is to be successfully completed, money will also have to be raised locally.
As we now know, the additional funds were successfully raised and the project completed securing the long term future of the paths we enjoy today.
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