Monday, 3 October 2016

Shropshire Great Outdoors newsletter

Lots to interest anyone interested in Walking and Footpaths.

Message from Sue Hackett, Ruyton XI Towns Parish Clerk.

Welcome to the latest edition of the Shropshire Outdoor Partnerships Newsletter where you will find a summary of some of the activities and projects which have taken place over the last few months.  In this edition:

Help With Website Promotion

Since its launch our new Shropshire's Great Outdoor website has proved incredibly popular with 11,000 users in a single month over the Summer.  We are incredibly proud of this website and believe it to be the number one resource for outdoor recreation in Shropshire.  We ask that where you can and where apporpriate could you include a link to  to help us promote outdoor recreation and encourage people to explore Shropshire's Great Outdoors.

Annual Survey Report

Thank you to all who took the time to fill out our Annual Users Survey of our service.  This survey helps us to deliver a better service to everyone who loves using our Rights of Way network, Parks and Sites and Greenspaces.   


491 people responded to the Annual Survey in 2015/16. They were mostly over 55, white British and lived in Shropshire. Slightly more women than men replied. When these results are compared, where possible, with results from previous years the following trends can be seen:

  • There is increased usage of Parks and Sites and walking routes in Parks and Sites
  • Walking is still the main activity
  • People increasingly use Rights of Way and Parks and Site for improving health and exercise, experiencing nature and the peace and quiet
  • People get an increased sense of mental and physical wellbeing from using these services
  • Overgrown vegetation is the main problem with using the outdoors
  • Issues with ploughing and cropping and dog mess are growing
  • Circular walks continue to be the most popular way of enjoying the outdoors, and use of them is growing
  • 77% of respondent are out using the services at least once per week and 78% use them for more than two hours
  • 26% of respondents walk daily
  • Over 60% of people are walking with friends or in groups
  • Most of those walking in groups are involved in a local walking group or Walking for Health
  • Ill health is the main reason for reduced activity levels, although 83% said they weren't suffering from and long-standing disease or disability
  • Around 50% of people are satisfied with their Rights of Way, although this figure appears to be falling
  • Over 60% are still satisfied with the parks and sites in their area
  • Almost everyone feels better for taking some exercise and enjoyed it
  • Printed leaflets and guidebooks are still the most popular way of finding out what's available and this shows no sign of reducing
  • Whilst there is an increase in people wanting to get involved in volunteering, the majority do not want to become involved

There were many comments, with a good number thanking the team for all their hard work. The primary concern was cuts to funding and the ability for these services to be maintained in the current financial climate.  To see the full results and trend analysis of the survey follow this link   

Ploughing and Cropping Campaign

In March over 120 letters were sent to landowners and farmers on identified on the Council's database, on whose land there had been recorded cropping or ploughing issue in the last few years.

The majority of complaints applied to land in the North Shropshire/Oswestry area 61%.  In contrast 20% applied to South Shropshire and Bridgnorth (North and East) and 18% in Shrewsbury and Atcham and Bridgnorth (South).  These initial letters prompted a number of responses from landowners who informed us that the paths would be cleared, or there were landownership changes or errors in original reporting, etc. 

Inspections were then carried out at most of the outstanding locations, with the Ramblers assisting with this task in the North Shropshire/Oswestry area.

The results of the inspections were:

  • 21% routes had been cleared and reinstated
  • 18% were not cropped in the current season
  • 11% were partially reinstated, whether by use by walkers or inadequate action by the landowner
  • Of the identified cropped paths 45% had not been cleared.

Further action was taken in May by sending a further letter to those who had failed to fulfil their obligations.  They were informed that action would be taken if they did not clear the crop.  This prompted a number of positive responses from landowners which was particularly helpful in developing contacts which could be useful in the future. 

Officers then undertook further inspections of the remaining issues to which earlier correspondence had resulted in no response.  This resulted in six legal notices being served which to date has resulted in immediate action by five

The results will be fully evaluated later in the year but the officers are pleased with the result and now have worthwhile statistics on which to base future campaigns.


John Muir Award

During August 2016 Shropshire Outdoor Partnerships completed their first John Muir Award scheme. The John Muir Award is an environmental award scheme for people of all backgrounds – groups, families and individuals. It's non-competitive, inclusive and accessible and is designed to encourage people to connect with, enjoy, and care for wild places.

Pictures show the students utilising the skills they have learned, navigating around the Long Mynd by map & compass and GPS whilst looking at the geology, fauna and flora of this amazing place.

The John Muir award encourages people to DISCOVER and EXPLORE a wild place and help to CONSERVE it by taking practical action and personal responsibility to improve it. The students can also be seen carrying out practical work on a Bridleway in Minton Batch improving access onto the Long Mynd for walkers and riders.

More information about the John Muir Award can be found at John Muir Trust or email Mick Dunn

New Partnerships with Shropshire Schools

Bishops Castle Community College

Outdoor Partnerships has recently extended its volunteering offer and partnership working to younger people through Bishop's Castle Community College's enrichment programme.  Back in March 2016 the College approached Outdoor Partnerships to see if we could offer a series of work days on Rights of Way maintenance for their students.  The scheme planned to put something back into the local Community whilst also improving part of the ROW network and to achieve this the local residents at the Wintles,  a pioneering  "green" village in Bishops Castle, were approached for ideas.   The Wintles development  has a community greenspace consisting of an orchard, woodland and allotments and is crisscrossed by a number of footpaths.  One of the well-used routes next to the allotments had become difficult to use particularly in wet weather so it was here that we decided we could make an improvement with the students help.  The plan was to create a raised stone path which could be used all year.  The materials and stone were delivered to the site before the first work day, however, a difficulty with the project was that the stone had to be stored on the other side of the site some 200m away and wheelbarrowed to the path. 

The first workday was on the Friday 15th of April and brought with it April showers but, undeterred, the students took to the task with great enthusiasm and continued this throughout the following seven sessions.  By the end of the last session 70m of new path had been completed and throughout the project praise and appreciation had been given by the Wintles residents and users of the site.  As a thank you and to recognise the students achievement a small gathering of residents, parents and school representatives were invited along for cake and a presentation.  Shropshire Wild Teams and Bishop's Castle P3 have since spent two sessions completing the path ready for the winter.  Special thanks should be given to Glynn Roberts of the local P3 group and Steve Hale and Andrew Wood from the Wintles for their continued support and hard work throughout this project.   

Shrewsbury School

Pupils in Third Form at Shrewsbury School were invloved in improving a section of footpath in the Radbrook area. The path was very overgrown and needed a more suitable base for its frequent use.

We set to work clearing the vegetation from the edges so they could see what we were working with. A couple of the Maintenance Team sped up the proccess by mowing up and down the path. This meant it was all systems go, shovelling, barrowing and raking the first layer of stone, to form a solid base.

The weather was not kind…it pretty much rained all day everyday for three days we were there. However, refusing to admit defeat (and the occasional trip to the sweet shop), we ploughed on.

The second and third days had the added bonus of showing the pupils what the previous pupils had achieved. This was helpful as it made it easier to show what was required, and gave them an insentive to better the previous days work. After all, everything is a competition when your that age!

Over the course of three days, the full length of path had been dressed with base stone and over half of it had been top-dressed (due to the weather). Even so, this is much more than we thought could be achieved.

A big thank you to the pupils of Third Form for their hard work and positive moral.

Already, there are talks about building bridges with the School – literally! We look forward to future projects with them!

Tom Llewellyn - Outdoor Partnerships Maintenance Officer

WW1 Abbey POW Camp Interpretation Board Unveiled

The official unveiling of the World War One interpretation board took place on Monday 13th June in the Abbey Foregate car park, Shrewsbury, which was framed and installed by the Rights of Way Maintenance Team.

As part of the World War One commemorations, Keith Pybus and Jim Stabler had the idea for the information board as not many people are aware of the prisoner of war camp that was once there.

Keith put the wording and images for the board together and arranged for Colonel Michael Evans TD DL wearing the uniform of Honorary Colonel, the Shropshire Yeomanry Squadron of The Royal Yeomanry and Lt Colonel Falk Oberdorf  from the German contingent of the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps, Imjin Barracks, Innsworth, Gloucestershire to unveil it.  The veil itself showed how much effort had gone into the planning as it was a poppy design which everyone agreed was most appropriate.

"The Shropshire World War One Anniversaries Group unveiled an unusual memorial of the First World War. Not more than a hundred yards from the Association's Wilfred Owen Memorial 'Symmetry' is the site of a German Prisoner of War camp.  Today this is part of the large Abbey Foregate car park, whilst in 1914 it had recently housed the Midland Railway Wagon and Carriage Works. The redundant buildings were initially put to use housing German civilians stranded in this Country by the tides of war." - Keith Pybus

Green Flag Flying High at SVCP and The Mere

Severn Valley Country Park 

Severn Valley Country Park has again been awarded the Green Flag Award for the 13th year in a row.. The national award, handed out by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy, recognises and rewards the best parks and green spaces across the country. A Green Flag flying overhead is a sign to visitors that the space boasts the highest possible standards, is beautifully maintained and has excellent facilities.

Severn Valley Country Park boasts a teashop and visitor centre, natural play area, way-marked walking and cycling routes and an orienteering trail. Staff work hard to put on events and this summer has seen monthly guided walks, a visit from a touring theatre company and a range of children's events. An active and growing volunteer group help to maintain the park. They have applied for funding to restore the wetland area and improve access to the wetland for visitors and school groups.

Councillor Stuart West, Portfolio Holder for Leisure and Culture said, "This Award recognises and highlights the fact that people in Shropshire are benefitting from a green space of the very highest quality. I would urge as many people as possible to take advantage of such a local asset, both for its natural beauty and for the benefits to individual health."

Councillor Tina Woodward (Local Councillor for Alveley and Claverley) said, "I am delighted that Severn Valley Country Park has been awarded the Green Flag again this year. It is a real credit to the small Team of Shropshire Council staff and volunteers who dedicate a lot of their time in maintaining and improving the site, year on year."

Councillor Dave Tremellen (Local Councillor for Highley) said, "The heritage and natural beauty of this part of Shropshire is a big draw for tourists as well as being a fantastic asset for local people. Severn Valley Country Park is a wonderful gateway into this wider landscape and deserves national recognition through the Green Flag Award Scheme."

The Mere

The Mere at Ellesmere will be flying the Green Flag again this year, the 3rd year in a row after being named amongst 1,476 parks, cemeteries, universities, shopping centres and community gardens that have met the high standard needed to receive the Award.

Managed by Shropshire Council, The Mere at Ellesmere is a beautiful lake with gardens, woodland walks and historic parkland. The Mere-side promenade, gardens and Boathouse restaurant and visitor centre have recently been restored to their former glory, and Cremorne Gardens offers a fantastic new adventure play area, formal flower beds, specimen trees, lawns and seating, and a circular garden walk.

The park provides a number of themed walks which encourage the exploration of the Park, provides interpretation of its heritage and makes links with Ellesmere town, the Llangollen Canal and surrounding countryside.

People can enjoy the gardens and walks, watch the herons nesting on Moscow Island, visit the Boathouse, enjoy an ice-cream or hot drink on the Mere-side promenade, take a boat trip on the Mere and much more.

Councillor Gwilym Butler, Shropshire Council's Cabinet member for culture and leisure, said:

"I would like to thank all the dedicated staff and volunteers at The Mere for their hard work in maintaining such a wonderful park. This is a great example of how Shropshire Council can work alongside volunteers and local communities to enable them to make a real difference to their local area."

Ann Hartley, Shropshire Councillor for Ellesmere, said:

"This is wonderful news. The Mere has so much to offer and is a great day out for all the family, so I'm delighted that it has been awarded a Green Flag.  I especially want to say a huge thank you to our volunteers who have given up their time to help maintain and improve the park. Without their help – be it one day a year, an hour a month or a regular weekly session – the Green Flag award would not have been possible, so this is a celebration of their efforts."


--   Yoland Brown  Brownhill House B&B & Garden, Ruyton XI Towns nr. Shrewsbury SY4 1LR  Tel:  01939 261 121 uk  ShACC - Shropshire Alternative Car Club -  MAILING LIST  for Ruyton XI Towns area  Yo`s blog: