Reclaiming the Footpaths

Things are finally looking up footpath-wise on my morning walk with the dogs.

20170624_073106At the weekend, the temporary fencing around Wainhomes’ new Woodshaw Meadows estate blew down yet again.

It’s asking a lot for two-metre-high fencing panels to stay up in a gust of wind if they aren’t buttressed at regular intervals. In this case, there was just one panel arranged as a ‘T’ to support a line of 22 panels, and it failed. Luckily, the panels fell away from the footpath.

About a month ago, the fenced-off area had been much-increased, blocking the accustomed footpath seen on the left of the photo, much to the alarm of the dog-walkers. This newly-fenced area was part of the long-promised ‘Country Park’, so why was the top-soil being stripped from such a wide area? Was it to remove some of the clay below the surface? Anyway, I was given assurance that the land would be restored.

Today, the fencing had been re-erected and most of the disturbed top-soil has indeed been restored. If we finally get our Country Park, will we see the same profusion of wild flowers next year? Quite often, when the top-soil is disturbed like this, other wild plants start germinating and we could end up with a rash of thistles and dock-leaves. This view south-east across the Country Park area is towards the railway line and the White Horse etched on the hills in the distance.

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There’s plenty of activity on the housing site itself, and at last our re-aligned footpath has been surfaced between some newly-completed houses and the remains of a hedgerow. Apparently, one of the new house-owners got a surprise to find that the railway was quite so close; the new Inter-City Express trains will pass just a stone’s-throw away. The road has finally acquired a name which is a bit of a give-away: ‘Evening Star’ is the last-ever steam locomotive built for British Rail in 1960, appropriately enough in Swindon.

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The new footpath parallels a cul-de-sac, and to me a separate footpath seems rather redundant. Rolls of turf are ready to cover the front gardens and gaps between the lines of tarmac. A year ago, the footpath passed from right to left until it was summarily blocked.

Will the new house-owners be further surprised when they find where the new footpath leads? Just beyond the houses is the attenuation bund surrounding the ‘Flood Storage Area’.  The photo below reveals that the bund is higher than the new footpath, so let’s hope the Flood Storage Area will stand up to the expected flow of storm water.

20170630_075008The attenuation bund was compromised several months ago when a storm-water pipe was routed without permission through its base. The Council had to issue an Enforcement Notice banning this pipe, which would have had the reverse effect from its intended purpose: the Flood Storage Area would have drained towards the second phase of houses being built further west alongside the railway line.

A few months ago, the storm-water pipe was removed and the scaffolding seen in the foreground was erected over the restored attenuation bund.

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At around the same time, the Environment Agency installed some Telemetry equipment either side of the attenuation bund as seen on the left, to measure the flow of storm water. Despite heavy rain all around us this week, the heaviest bursts seem to have bypassed our town, so we’ll have to wait a little longer to see how fast the storm water passes through the Flood Storage Area and under the railway.

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