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Category: Roads & Bridges

Here Be Dragons

Here Be Dragons

How things change. This photograph shows an entrant in the Beamish Trophy Trial (for old motorbikes, and even-older owners) held in the North Pennines recently. The (new) warning sign is at the top of a steep and stony unclassified road, and if a truck tried, then it would probably get to the bottom, but perhaps not in a dignified manner. The motorcycle is about 60 years old. At that date Ordnance Survey maps had not yet started to depict public…

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Surveyors’ Accounts

Surveyors’ Accounts

In the first quarter of the 19th Century there were more ‘surveyors of highways’ than you could shake a stick at: the thick end of seventeen thousand of them in England and Wales. After the commencement of the Highway Act 1835 the job got a bit more rigorous, and better records were kept. One enterprising publisher sold formatted accounts books for surveyors’ use, and Bill Riley has located and copied an example from 1851. This is available as a PDF…

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A Bit Cheeky?

A Bit Cheeky?

The cycling charity SUSTRANS seems to be a bit ‘Marmite‘. That’s not because Tesco threatened to take it off the shelves, but rather that a lot of people think it is the best thing since (or, indeed, on) sliced bread, and not a few don’t. Readers might be interested to see SUSTRANS’ take on public rights of way. Apparently this BOAT is not a public right of way, rather it is a negotiated concession by the kind permission of the…

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Some Things Never Change …

Some Things Never Change …

Old Roads. (from The South Country by Edward Thomas 1909) Up here in the rain it utters the pathos of the old roads behind, wiped out as if writ in water, or worn deep and then deserted and surviving only as tunnels under the hazels. I wish they could always be as accessible as churches are, and not handed over to landowners—like Sandisbury Lane near Petersfield—because straight new roads have taken their places for the purposes of tradesmen and carriage…

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Act of God

Act of God

Gatescarth Pass in the Lake District sees a lot of rain in almost every year, but the recent trend to ‘extreme weather events’ brings a level of impact that even the sturdiest road cannot resist. In the winter of 2016-16 a significant landslip brought-down tons of soil and loose rock on to the previously repaired and maintained carriageway. Gatescarth is open to the public with motor vehicles on a ‘permit day’ system, marshalled by local volunteers, and the local group of…

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More Hollow Ways

More Hollow Ways

Bill Riley writes: ‘We have many multiple hollow ways here in Wiltshire; this is one of my favourite examples, just south of Marlborough. The road on the right, with the cars, has been the main road (A346) since 1921. The prominent road branching out of it, from right to left, is the former turnpike and main road abandoned (not diverted) in 1921.’ The photograph comes from Archaeology In The Field by OGS Crawford (1953).

Biblical Proportions

Biblical Proportions

There has been a lot of rain in Cumbria since Christmas. The Old Coach Road at Threlkeld has been generally robust and resilient through decades of living memory, but now water has badly scoured a downhill section. The Cumbria Group of the Trail Riders Fellowship has erected advisory notices on the road and is recommending particularly that heavier vehicles keep off until repairs can be organised.  

Fanning Out

Fanning Out

Multiple hollow ways along one road corridor are not at all unusual, and this is a nice example which shows just how regular horse, horse-drawn, and droving traffic must once have been on roads that are long-bypassed by lower, better-made highways. This is Hexham Lane in County Durham. It was set out as a public carriage road in a late 18th Century inclosure award, but is also shown as part of a long route from Catterick Bridge to Hexham on Moll’s map…

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Foy Sauce

Foy Sauce

Long-time readers of Byway and Bridleway might recall a report in issue 1990/10/40 on the case of Foy v. Hertfordshire County Council, also briefly reported in The Times on 4 May 1990. Mr & Mrs Foy had fenced off part of a some roadside waste forming part of the Lower Icknield Way. A public footpath runs along the edge of the triangle of waste. The council took enforcement action and the Foys appealed, with Mrs Foy ultimately and unsuccessfully taking…

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Horse Transport

Horse Transport

HORSE TRANSPORT By Catriona Cook MBE With our fast modern motor transport it is difficult for many to imagine what things were like in the days of transport by horse and donkey. Unless steep hills were to be negotiated with heavy loads, where a longer route following the contours was preferable, then the shortest route was used. As Paddy Baker, one of my late mentors, said when we were discussing the arguments over path status today, compared with riding in…

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