The Lichfield Society
Report of the Footpaths Study Group

  • Introduction

    Forty-one footpaths have been surveyed, with a total length of 12.75 miles. The condition of the surfaces varied from Tarred Macadam and Blue Bricks to beaten tracks over ploughed fields; with one exception there were no signs indicating the existence of Public Footpaths. Many of the paths had been diverted or closed altogether, some officially, other without any reference to official procedure.

    The City Council have, in some instances, granted Planning Permission and permitted development to take place before diversions or closures had been applied for and, in many cases, the public has been put to inconvenience thereby.

    As stated in the interim report, submitted to the meeting on 22nd February last, the survey work was divided into four sub-groups (i.e. North, South, East and West) and the reports of these sections are summarised as follows. The numbers refer to the paths indicated on the official map prepared by the County Council under the Access to the Countryside Act and each group was supplied with a map and pro-forma report sheet.

  • Northern Group (14 paths totalling 4 miles)

    Path No. 1 - from St Chad's Road to Bishop's Walk

    This path is in good condition apart from a short length at the St Chad's Road end, which is muddy and slippery in wet weather.

    Path No. 2 - from St Chad's Road to Path No. 1

    This is in reasonable condition, apart from a few patches where the macadam surface requires repair. The barrier to deter cyclists from using the path is very difficult for persons with perambulators to negotiate.

    Path No. 3 - from Gaia Lane to Path No.1

    This footpath runs across the Theological [College] Playing fields and has been disused for a considerable time. No action is recommended to restore this.

    Path No. 4 - from Gaia Lone to Wheel Lane (The Windings)

    The northernmost end of this path has been diverted for residential development. There are several overhanging trees and hedges which interfere with the free passage of pedestrians and, as Cycling is not officially prohibited along this path, a barrier is recommended at the Gaia Lane end.

    Path No. 5 - from Dimbles Hill to Gaia Lane

    The path is badly overgrown and needs attention to the hedges and the clearance of deposited rubbish.

    Path No. 6 - from Dimbles Hill to Beacon Street (near the Little Barrow)

    This footpath is very indefinite where development has taken place at the Leasowe and an official diversion will, no doubt, be required when the development of this area is carried out. This must be watched.

    Path No. 7 - Dimbles Lane

    This path, formerly Dimbles Lane, has now been diverted to follow the new road and has already been made up along this section. At the northern end, considerable tipping has taken place but, for many years, this path has been considerably overgrown and is boggy at the City boundary, being impassable for the ordinary user. Some of the material tipped here has been offensive but has been recently covered and the path is now in far better condition than for the past 30 years. Where the tipping ends, the material should be sloped to give an easy access from the higher ground where tipping has taken place.

    Path No. 30 - from Grange Lane to Stafford Road (South of Nearfield House)

    Apart from approximately 80 yds at the Grange Lane end, this path is in bad condition, having been obstructed by timber and a broken down lorry, old tractor etc., and the hedges have overgrown the path making it necessary for pedestrians to make their own diversion. This path should be cleared frequently.

    Path No. 31 - from Wheel Lane to Path No. 30

    When this path was surveyed in October 1961 it traversed through fields and was very difficult to follow. Since then development has taken place and an official diversion order applied for. The path will follow the estate streets.

    Path No. 32 - from Bird Street to The Friary

    This path passes between business premises and, apart from a few uneven bricks in the surface at the Bird Street end, is in reasonable condition. Access is obtained from this path to the rear of premises in Bird Street and Sandford Street. It is much used and is in need of occasional scavenging.

    Path No. 33 - from Sandford Street to Path 32

    This is in reasonable condition.

    Path No. ?? - Bishop's Walk (Not shown on the official map)

    The surface here is in good condition but, at the time of the survey, the hedges were overgrown and nettles and weeds in the hedge bottom required attention. This path suffers considerably from the deposition of litter and litter bins placed at strategical points along this path might overcome this problem.

  • Southern Group (Nine paths having a total length of 2.86 miles)

    Path No. 14 - from Cherry Orchard to Boley (sic)

    At the Cherry Orchard end this path runs between two properties and is only five feet wide; it is impassable owing to the hedges being overgrown. Housing development has taken place on the central section of the path and an official diversion made. The path could have been diverted with advantage at the Cherry Orchard end as there is no evidence of use along the first 120 yds.

    Path No. 15 - from Cherry Orchard to Station Road (Frenchman's Lane)

    This is much used and in good condition, apart from weeds in the hedge bottom. These are attended to at intervals by the City Council.

    Path No. 16 - from Cherry Orchard to Borrowcop Lane

    Building development has taken place at both ends of this path and applications have been made for official diversions. At the Cherry Orchard end the path was obstructed for some two years before an application was made for the diversion and considerable inconvenience was thereby caused to the public. The path has now been diverted along the street and between two houses where one appears to be walking along a private drive. This is a clear case for a footpath direction sign. A length of approximately 130 yds of the path is very badly overgrown and obstructed, pedestrians having used the adjacent field. The original footpath should be freed from obstruction and brought back into use again.

    Path No. 17 - from Path No. 16 to Borrowcop Hill

    This path has been officially diverted round King's Hill School Playing fields. The original length was 250 yds and the diversion is 350 yds. The surface of the [new] path should be properly made up and levelled with some suitable material.

    Path No. 18 - from Path 16 to the end of Borrowcop Lane

    This path has been made up for some 300 yds, with carriageway and footpath to King's Hill School, and for a further 240 yds has been made up with ashes and is in good condition, the remainder being of beaten earth.

    Path No. 19 - from Beech gardens to Borrowcop Hill

    This path has been diverted around the Grammar School Playing Fields, and the site for King's Hill School; the length being increased from 400 yds to 910 yds. The path around the playing fields has been made up with ashes and is in good condition but the diversion near King's Hill School to Borrowcop Lane is in a dangerous condition and needs to be made up satisfactorily. The style at the Beech Gardens end requires a new tread. The diversions are official in this case, but are rather extensive and any future diversions of this nature should be watched by the Society.

    Path No. 20 - from the City boundary to London Road (near Freeford Lodge)

    There is no evidence of use.

    Path No. 21 - from the City boundary to Birmingham Road (near Harehurst Hill)

    This path runs over fields and no difficulties were encountered apart from growing crops.

    Path No. 37 - from Walsall Road to the City boundary at Pipe Grange

    The path runs through fields and was unobstructed apart from the opening in the fence where barbed wire was placed across to prevent straying of cattle. The wire moved easily, but observation should be kept on such obstructions to prevent them becoming permanent.

  • Eastern Group (Eight paths having a total length of two miles)

    Path No. 8 - from Netherstowe over the railway bridge

    The path virtually follows the line indicated on the map and was obstructed at one fence by barbed wire; apart from this it is a satisfactory condition.

    Path No. 9 - Footbridge over the Railway Line

    This was in good condition.

    Path No. 10 - from Brownfields Road to the Railway bridge

    This path has been diverted by official order for industrial and housing development. The length from the new road to the railway bridge should be indicated.

    Path No. 11 - from Trent Valley Road to St Michael Road.

    This path was in satisfactory condition, but a considerable amount of rubbish was deposited by tenants of the Housing Estate.

    Path No. 12 - from Trent Valley Road to Burton Old Road (Sheriff's Ride)

    This path was in satisfactory condition.

    Path No. 13 - from Sturgeons Hill to Burton Old Road

    This path crosses fields and a rough cart track, and is in a satisfactory condition.

    Path No. 34 - by St Michael's Churchyard

    This path was in satisfactory condition.

    Path No. 40 - from Trent Valley Road to the City boundary (Sheriff's Ride)

    This path has been officially diverted by the City Council, along the roads of the new industrial estate. Whilst the route is commodious, it is not so pleasant.

  • Western Group (Eleven paths having a total length of 3.75 miles)

    Path No. 22 - from The Friary to Walsall Road (near Trunkfields)

    This path leaves the Friary between two houses through what appears to be a private garden. Efforts have been made by the owners from time to time to discourage the public from using this path. This is one of the remaining walks in the City through fields, and at one time there was a suggestion to divert it to run alongside the brook. This suggestion is worthy of renewed consideration.

    Path No. 23 - from Christchurch Lane (western end) to Leomansley Cottages

    This path is a bridle way for most of the way and is in satisfactory condition.

    Path No. 24 - from Christchurh Lane (near Church) to the Abnalls

    This path was severed by the by-pass and is in satisfactory condition.

    Path No. 25 - from Path No. 28 to Leomansley Cottages

    This was also severed by the by-pass where care must be taken, otherwise it is free from major obstructions and is a very pleasant walk. The stiles need improvement.

    Path No. 26 - from Abnalls Lane (by Maple Lodge) to Leomansley Cottages

    This path is swampy in places but free from obstruction and joins Path No. 25 near the cottages where an unofficial diversion has bee indicated. This has evidently been done by the owner to divert pedestrians from passing the cottages and, as the diversion seems more convenient, no objection could be raised apart from the illegality of the action.

    Path No. 27 - a link between Path No. 25 and Path No. 26

    Although this path is swampy, there is no artificial barrier.

    Path No. 28 - from Beacon Street (Shaw Lane) to Abnalls Lane

    This path is well used and is in fair condition. There is only one stile on this footpath and this could be made more convenient. There have been two official diversions by the fence at the rear of Chamberlain & Hill's foundry.

    Path No. 29 - from Abnalls Lane (near Beacon Street) to 250 yds East of Maple Lodge

    This path was severed by the by-pass and no stiles were erected. There is no evidence of a path on the site, which is now being developed. The owner states that he was unaware of the existence of a footpath when the site was acquired and a Planning Applications was made. The existence of this path should have been revealed by the official search.

    Path No. 36 - from The Friary (near the Victoria Hospital) to Chesterfield Road

    This path is satisfactory.

    Path No. 38 - from Abnalls Lane to Cross in Hand Lane

    This path is indefinite and has no sign of use. There is a poor stile at the Abnalls Lane end and at Cross in Hand Lane the stile was broken, and obstructed, but there was an easily opened adjacent gate.

    Path No. 39 - from Christchurch Lane to Leomansley Mill Farm

    This is a single line track in places. The hedges near the school are badly overgrown and need attention. There are three stiles on this path, two of which are broken. There was evidence of a well worn track except where the field had been recently ploughed. (Note: since the survey was made this path has been obstructed by building operations. The Council's attention should be drawn to this as there is apparently no application for an official diversion).

  • Conclusion

    This report can only be taken on the conditions at the time of our survey. If the Society is to be effective there will have to be periodic regular inspections and the attention of the Local Authority should be drawn to any flagrant infringements, such have taken place recently. Development is bound to affect some of the paths but proper action must be taken by developers before work takes place in order that the public may be given adequate opportunity to make representations.

    The Group recommends that the Society should draw the attention of the City Council to the obstructions which have been found and request that they ensure that developers are not permitted to obstruct, divert or stop up public footpaths until after a formal application has been made.

    Whilst the Society may continue to inspect the paths from time to time, the City Council should see that they are kept reasonably clear of obstructions, such as overhanging hedges weeds, broken stiles and gates by serving notice on the adjacent owners. Also, it is recommended that where diversions have been authorised the surface of the path should be constructed of some durable material according to the use of the path, and the position of the path indicated by standard signs if possible stating the destination to which the path leads.

    The Group considers that the City Council should be requested to erect lamps on Path No. 4 (The Windings) and that constant attention should be given to the sweeping of leaves in the Autumn.

    Leslie Straw
    Footpaths Study Group
    November 14th, 1962