1) Wednesday 18th April – at Herefordshire Archive and Records Centre (HARC), Rotherwas, researching the parish’s lost paths – HO2, HO5, HO7, HO11 and HO12.
Initial concentration was on paths 2 and 7 which appeared on a Draft Definitive Map issued in August 1952, but by the time the 1952 Definitive Map was issued on 1st October 1952 path 7 had ceased to be numbered on the map even though a footpath was still shown.
Numerous Holmer & Shelwick Parish Council minutes from that era were examined but no references to the two paths were seen. Surprisingly one minute of a meeting held on 30th April 1969 referred to the extinguishment of the path section of HO1 between 8 and 9 The Crescent. Fortunately, that has not happened but HO2 has disappeared.
An email was sent on 8th May 2018 to Mr Mike Mable, the Definitive Map Officer for Herefordshire, requesting advice on whether he has information on paths 2 and 7 being the subject of Public Path Extinguishment Orders. The records for such Orders are, apparently, kept within the Public Rights of Way (PROW) section and not at HARC.
Mr Mable responded on 9th May 2018 with comprehensive documentation as to why footpaths 5, 7, 11 and 12 were rejected and did not make it on to the Definitive Map. Footpath 2 was accepted for inclusion on the Draft Map but did not make it on to the first Definitive Map. I will try to pursue this further when I can. However, it is unlikely that Footpath 2 can be reinstated because, as part of the evidence, we are required to confirm that the path has been in regular use for the past 20 years. That we cannot do as the line of the path now passes through a garden.
2) Sunday 7th May – walked 13.7 miles to check each of Holmer & Shelwick’s Public Footpaths and work out a list of priorities for path maintenance:
a) Path HO1 – from Roman Road across Ayles Brook and towards the Canon Pyon Road. The path between 8 and 9 The Crescent requires some cutting back of overhanging vegetation. Across Ayles Brook bridge you are faced by a small pool of water, but it is possible to bypass that now without too much difficulty. The path has not been re-instated yet along the correct line, as per the map.
b) Path HO3 – from the A49 to Cold Well Pool (Holmer Pond). A small amount of vegetation clearance is required around the A49 entrance to the path at the metal gate. Apart from that no problems.
No problems noted other than Herras fencing is still in place at Munstone Road instead of the planned barriers. Also, this end of the path is still waiting for a final coat of tarmac.
e) Path HO8 – from Attwood Lane to Roman Road. Nettles growing now and the path will require strimming in the near future. Cutting back of overhanging vegetation will also be required.
Subsequently to walking the path complaints/comments were received through the website that trees along the path were overhanging gardens and houses and the path was always full of nettles and wet and could not be walked in ordinary footwear.
However, path HO8 is essentially a country path running between housing and it will tend to suffer from growth of nettles and become waterlogged in wet weather. An incident has been logged on the Herefordshire Council website about the trees (Balfour Beatty Ref: 11056655) and further investigation of the waterlogging in wet weather will be requested (there is still an incident outstanding for this Balfour Beatty Ref: 11055307)
On 9th May the path was strimmed/trimmed by me and it was dry.
f) Path HO8A – from Attwood Lane by the Holmer Court Care Home across to The Furlongs and then up to Coldwells Road by The Secret Garden. No problems when walked.
g) Path HO9 – from road C1127 (Munstone Road) by White House Farm to Shelwick Lane/Patch Hill Lane junction. The entrance to the path from the road is still very rough. Weeds/nettles now growing at the White House Farm end of the path and will need trimming soon. However, the owners of the farm are hoping to keep the grass part of the path mown which will be a big help.
The path through from Ivydene will need trimming soon up to the Patch Hill lane and the stile at SO 51865 43133 requires clearing. Also, two metal stiles made from gates need replacement.
i) Path HO13 – from the footbridge at Shelwick to Munstone Road.
The field was being ploughed while I was there. The farmer assured me that he would reinstate the HO13 path within 10 days.
j) Path HO14 – from Shelwick Lane (near Patch Hill lane) to Burcott Farm
k) Path HO15 – from Shelwick Green to near the River Lugg. No issues other than mud near the kissing gate.
l) Path HO16 – from Shelwick Green to the River Lugg. No specific issues
m) Path HO17 – from junction with HO16 to the Roman Road (near Lugg Bridge
There are several issues with stiles as will be seen from the photographs. Also, the final field up to the Roman Road is an Access Land meadow that becomes very overgrown with long grass in the summer and the path is difficult to keep open.
n) Bridleway HO18 – from Roman Road by Lugg Bridge towards Sutton Rhea and Sutton Marsh to the parish boundary. The section closest to the Roman Road requires the most work at present, before the brambles take hold.
The purpose of walking the complete path network in one day was to get a quick assessment of which sections have the most urgent need of attention. In the coming weeks I will try to do the trimming work identified in this report. I will also report/re-report all the stile and bridge issues to Balfour Beatty.
It is impossible for me to do everything in a short period as Footpath Officer duties are something I have to fit in with other commitments. Unfortunately (for me), Nature is an impatient taskmaster/taskmistress and keeps things growing when I cannot do anything about it. If specific issues need prompt attention please do report them through the Holmer & Shelwick website.
Duncan Smart (DGS),
Holmer & Shelwick Parish Footpath Officer