Fresh momentum has been injected into the search for new footpaths and cycling routes between Long Wittenham and Clifton Hampden.
A team of parish councillors and residents has been revived after seven years. Previous efforts were thwarted by landowners and farmers worried by damage to crops and disturbance to grazing sheep and cattle. But it’s hoped that new landowners could be more receptive to the creation of routes for walkers and cyclists.
The group comprises Gordon Rogers, chairman of Long Wittenham Parish Council, Glenn Pereira of Burcot and Clifton Hampden Parish Council, Tom Bowtell and Keith Tucker, residents of Long Wittenham, and David Scott, resident of Burcot.
The group is examining several options including a cycle-path-cum walking route alongside the main road between Long Wittenham and the Barley Mow. Talks were opened with Oxfordshire County Council but this has fallen by the wayside on the grounds of engineering difficulties, purchase of land and disruption to traffic. The group will seek meetings with landowners to see if a cheaper option is possible.
Another idea is a route across the fields from Northfield Lane towards the Barley Mow car park. Earlier talks with several previous landowners were abandoned when the idea was opposed. The group is also examining the possibility of a path from Long Wittenham to cross the weir at the end of the back-water, over the island with a link to the Thames Path and on to Clifton Hampden Bridge.
Parish council chairman and member of the footpath group Gordon Rogers said: “For years both communities have been seeking ways to improve cycling and walking routes. Now there is fresh impetus from the government in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic as the Green transport revolution takes root. There are new landowners in the area and we hope they will be more sympathetic towards our objectives.”
The revived group has won support from Long Wittenham’s District Counciilor Sam Casey-Rerhaye. She said: “I am really pleased that this group is trying to find a workable route for walking and cycling. It’s vitally important that villages have safe connections so that we can improve our health and well-being. As Cycling Champion for South Oxfordshire District Council I will help the group in any way I can.”