Growing concern re dangerous section of the OVW footpath
In our Contributors column in the issue of the Hunts Post of 5 January 2022 (see Media/Cuttings) Graham Campbell outlined the problem with the section of the path under the A14 bridge at Buckden shown here.
PHOTOGRAPH BY GOVT
Where the vegetation has been removed by National Highways during construction of the bridge the ground has become unstable and in wintery conditions passage is especially dangerous. We wanted to highlight this situation both to advise walkers to take particular care while navigating this stretch, and to draw attention of local authorities and agencies to the need for urgent remedial works. It certainly caught the eye of Cllr Stephen Ferguson, St Neots Town Mayor, who expressed his fury at the inaction. He walked the entire length of the Ouse Valley way in 2020 to publicise the long-distance footpath and raise funds for charities including this Trust. You can also find his Hunts Post article in our Media/Cuttings section.
He pointed the finger quite firmly at National Highways, but we have been gratified to hear this week that the County Council is investigating other ways to address the matter. There is a bid for CIL money to be used by the District Council for improvements to the Public Rights of Way network in the Great Ouse Valley area, to include the A14 bridge section. If successful it will allow the County Council to pursue ground investigations and an options appraisal. The EA will need to approve of any works proposed but we are of course hopeful the ball will soon be rolling to resolve the problem. Time is certainly of the essence as the weather improves and we all venture out more. We will continue to post news as we get it. A new worry, however, is the Rights of Way Officer vacancy at the County has still not been filled, and so we also await a new champion for the OVW to make sure the ball keeps on rolling.
Update to the Ouse Valley Way improvements - November 2020
Mayor of St Neots Walk and signage progress.
Following the heroic effort of Stephen Ferguson, the Mayor of St Neots, to walk the entire 151 miles of the Ouse Valley Way to Kings Lynn in the late autumn rain, the Trust is now even more focused on our project to upgrade this great long-distance footpath.
Working with Zaria Bettles and James Stringer at the County Council we have developed a programme to replace signposts, update the way-marking and provide new and upgraded interpretation boards on the route.
We are asking all our partner members to provide detailed information on the path in their own patch so we can incorporate the findings into an overall plan for the whole route. We have already had submissions from Brampton, Buckden, the Offords, Southoe and Houghton and Wyton.
It is clear from these reports that the most urgent action needed is the repair of banks and boundaries. Much of the path is also in a poor state. James and Zaria will be getting the County Council contractors to take the necessary action as soon as the ground conditions allow, which means that not much can be done until the spring. Negotiations are continuing with Highways England to help with the cost of repairing the river banks following the construction of the A14 near Offord Cluny.
The post and way-marking programme will be carried out by volunteers but assisted by the contractors. Coral Designs will be working on the maps and interpretation boards over the winter months. The new boards will give updated information and circular routes as well as the route of the main footpath. Coral Designs is well known for its excellent graphics and we believe the new maps and boards will be a big boost for the image of the path and encourage more walkers to enjoy it.
We are lucky to have a grant of £35,000 earmarked towards the cost of the work from the County Council which had applied to the A14 Legacy Fund. In addition, the Trust has applied for a Green Recovery Grant from the National Heritage Lottery. However, as this fund is apparently eight times oversubscribed we are also looking at alternative funding sources.
In addition to all this work we are still negotiating with the landowner to get the Ouse Valley Way realigned along the river and away from Meadow Lane in St Ives. This would make the footpath a much safer and more attractive proposition in the section between Holywell and St Ives, as well as making it a lot easier for HGV drivers and other traffic currently using Meadow Lane.
Our ambition the make the Ouse Valley Way one of the most important long-distance footpaths in the East of England. And a worthy setting for the annual Ouse Valley Way Marathon!
GOVT joins up with CCC Highways to organize improvements to the Great Ouse Valley Way
Meetings have been held between the two organisations to look at the implementation of major improvements to the Great Ouse Valley Way Long-distance Footpath. The County Council has successfully applied for grant aid from the A14 Legacy Fund to complete the work. The improvements include:
- Better signage
- New way-marking
- New interpretation boards
- Repair of banks
- New bridges
- Removal of tree obstructions
In addition to this work GOVT has identified areas where the Great Ouse Valley Way route can be improved. The most important area is the path between Holywell and St Ives that currently goes down Meadow Lane through a very busy industrial area with many heavy lorry movements and poor road surfacing. We consider this to be a dangerous section of the footpath (see photographs above). With very little alteration the path can be diverted along a section of the Guided Busway cycle path. This is the short-term aim. The long-term aim is to divert the path along the river to enter St Ives under the bypass and then along The Quay. (See the following map for the alternative routes under discussion.)
The Great Ouse Valley Way is important to tourism and the local economy. It is the location of the annual Great Ouse Valley Marathon.
GOVT is looking forward to working with the County Council to ensure that the Great Ouse Valley Way takes is rightful place as one of the most accessible and attractive long-distance footpaths in the country.