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Holy Trinity Church Footpath

14/03/11
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The village of Holborn Hill has two footpaths (FP415002 & FP415003) to Holy Trinity Church and Millom Castle. One at the west end of the village along Dumb Lane and the other to the East of the top of the hill at what is now the junction of Festival Road. Aerial view with details

In the past, the paths have had some maintenance work, predominantly a tarmac surface but also lighting and drainage. However, they have been neglected for centuries and are well overdue to be brought up to date to enable parishioners to attend church without taking half a field with them on their shoes. Here follows a series of photographs and information to highlight the good, the bad and the downright unacceptable state the path is currently in. A photo of a modern route of less age is also included for comparison.

Following the illustrative images is a final photo of recent works on part of the path to show how the rest of the path should be; along with text indicating works required and preferred time-scales.


1  2 
End of the path looking toward Holborn Hill                           Looking straight along the path (ignore the road veering to the left and Festival Road veering to the right!)

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The first signs of the original footpath - complete with lights, tarmacked surface and 4 drains.

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(Adjust your monitor settings to see text in shadows !)
The path crosses the entrance to Leyfield Close, follows that entrance for a bit then continues straight on from the parking 
area - as does lighting. Although the path is wide enough for a vehicle here, there is nowhere for a vehicle to go.

Beyond the light (and shed) and the bend, we lose the wall on the left as it's replaced by a metal-railinged field. Now sandwiched between this field and the backs of houses/gardens, the path width remains at least 7 foot:

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Further along, vegetation increases seemingly reducing the width of the path which remains a reasonably good tarmacked surface heading directly towards Millom Castle. 'Street lighting' illuminates this portion of the path:

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At the end of the field is a redundant kissing-gate which needs to be removed (or bypassed) to permit wheelchair access. Beyond the gate, the path further deteriorates in width and surface; which still remains as tarmac. The right-hand two images show the junction with the path accessing Trinity Road - complete with the last street lighting on the path.

It can be seen that the route has importance for it to have had such a good surface and be lit. However, from here it degrades further.

      
14                                                                                         15                                                           16                                                        17                Munroe Avenue access   .
Vegetation encroaches further down the hill to the last junction in the town giving access to Munroe Avenue. Beyond that, the last kissing-gate
which needs to be changed to a wheelchair-user-friendly variant - unless further fences in the fields are erected.

Through the gate the path deteriorates further to a narrow rough-surfaced tarmac path which is crossed by farm animals that leave mud and dung on it:

18  19

At the end of the first field, further surface deterioration where many paths cross. The footpath continues through the kissing-gate ahead - and this path is 
joined by one coming in from the left of the picture. Clearly, the area is also a major farm-animal junction with three gates in the picture: the gate on the left 
leading into the field ahead, the middle gate into a track to another field and at the right, an almost end-on gate leading into the field far-right.

Returning briefly to the footpath that joins here from the left, I'll come back to this later as it too is in an unacceptable state of repair. For now though, we'll continue ahead through the kissing-gate towards the church and castle. Once through the gate, the path turns sharp right and follows the edge of the field:

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While stating that this kissing-gate needs to be changed to a more wheelchair-user-friendly variant, it's apparent, with the oil on the hinge, that it's been cared for. 
Immediately beyond the gate the surface is appalling. Uneven, narrow and/or very muddy. However, beyond this, it is dry, very narrow tarmac again. The path continues on over a small footbridge and through another kissing-gate. This field represents the worst of the path as once through the gate, it is generally dry, a bit wider and still tarmacked all the way to the churchyard. A further gate to enter the churchyard will also need to be made wheelchair-user-friendly. Beyond here, the path becomes the responsibility of the church and once past the church, becomes vehicle-width again all the way to the main A5093 road.

PART 2

Retracing our steps back to the muddy kissing-gate:

    
23                                                                                                                    24                         Salthouse Road: The sort of surface we should expect, even if not this width!             .

It's quite clear why this is totally unacceptable. For a footpath to church, in this day and age, the path has not been fit for purpose for decades. The path has had centuries of neglect. This contrasts greatly with the newer road, the A5093, Salthouse Road which has been forced into being maintained with increasing traffic flow.

Once back through the kissing-gate above, we'll look at the other part of the path from the parish church to Haverigg. Again the section through the fields is in a totally unacceptable state, not fit for purpose; again through centuries of neglect. The path links into 'Dumb Lane' - Palmers Lane and on to Haverigg Road.

Around this 'busy' area by the kissing-gate, not surprisingly, the ground is a mud-field which tapers down to an extremely muddy and narrow track:

   
   25                                                                                                                    26
However, it doesn't remain a narrow track, it just disappears such that it's totally unrecognisable and indistinguishable from a mud-bath. A drinking trough in the lowest part of the field ensures a sufficiently high animal traffic flow to maintain this quagmire. Remember, this is the route to church ! Apart from major surface repair-work, the water trough needs to be moved to prevent frequent animal traverses across the path. 

From here, the path remains very muddy for some distance all the way to another kissing-gate which will need to be upgraded to wheelchair-user-friendly.

      
    27                                                                                                                                            28                                                                     29
Again, a clear mud-bath. However, through this gate, the path returns to a tarmacked surface, albeit quite narrow - too narrow for wheelchair users. Apart from that the surface isn't too bad - just lacking adequate width. 

The next kissing-gate marks the start of Dumb Lane where it becomes a vehicular-width track. However, with the well overgrown vegetation, less than half the width is visible and half again of that is usable:

30   31

The clear width of farm gate plus kissing gate then starts to taper narrower to just farm track width and typical poor farm track surface quality although a thin strip of tarmac remains. While the footway continues, the carriageway becomes less discernible as the vegetation takes over:

32   33

While the width between fence-post and the railings is clearly wide enough for a vehicle, the actual usable path width is barely enough to permit two people to pass each other. In parts, with the overgrowth, even one person using the path is likely to have to beware of having eyes poked with twiggy vegetation.

As the path meets housing (the end of Pannatt Hill), there's a wide junction that leads up to the end of Pannatt Hill:

34   35

The top section of which is rather uneven but it would seem easily possible to make this a good accessible surface from the main path all the way up to road level.

As the path continues along the backs of the houses, the width remains obvious:

  
     36                                                                                                             37                                                                            38
More and more of the tarmac becomes visible and the inclusion of drainage shows that some consideration of the path has been taken.

Even the junction with Cleator Street is overgrown:

39   40

The path is clearly visible up Cleator Street but look how far over the left-hand wall is. Again, the route is vehicle width. The next access onto Dumb lane is wider still and a reasonable surface. Shame about the car blocking it. From here to the junction with Holborn Hill, Dumb Lane is clear for vehicles to use without difficulty. The whole length of footpath can be viewed from above, by clicking here.

Beyond the junction with Holborn Hill, the path has just been resurfaced:

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Ideally, this is how the path should look for its entire length. For ease of use, the kissing-gates should be removed or bypassed and the fields fenced to keep animals from straying.

The width of the path for its entire length should be no narrower than 900mm and where possible, 2m. Where the path is narrow, such as through the fields, 'passing places' need to be arranged at appropriate intervals - depending on sight-lines. These intervals would possibly tie up with lighting columns for the paths. I'm aware this improvement would still be a substandard path but I will accept this as a compromise as it would be such a significant improvement for the town. I'd rather not push for a standard path and I hope at this stage pushing for a standard path isn't necessary but I'm aware it's an option if it becomes necessary.

Yes, I said lighting columns - for the whole length of the path. Solar-powered LED lights with RF or PIR-triggered switching with the intention that the path is not lit when not in use.

Parts of the path have 'steep gradients'. It is likely wider, safe, level landings will be required for wheelchair users to rest.

Preferred time-line:

31/03/11 - Agreement to do the work.
30/09/11 - Plan finalised and agreed with landowners and potential users.
01/01/12 - Work start date*.
31/12/12 - Completion date.

* Preparatory work like vegetation removal and landscaping etc. potentially done via prison or probation service rehab schemes.


14/03/11
Work on the footpath is due to go ahead as soon as suitable weather permits. This currently involves the removal of mud from the tarmacked surface utilising the manpower of a Community Payback Scheme. Although this was started, it did not make much impact on the problem and the path remains in much the same condition.
14/07/11
Cumbria County Council, responsible for rights of way maintenance, has been approached more than once on the issue but is not inclined at all to make any improvements. It would also appear that there is no legislation, not even relating to the disabled and equality, that can be used to encourage the council to make the path acceptable.

However, we have not given up completely despite these knock-backs.