A New years wish – happy snapping

In 2013 I will not have to move to Outer Mongolia to escape the Olympics so it’s already a better year. Having said that 2012 was taken up with planning and executing the Coltishall event which all agreed went well and I am remain so terribly grateful to all involved. It’s a year I will not forget in a hurry.

Now you may be wondering where all of the pictures have gone; a number have been deleted from the website and the previous blog and this one are visually challenged. The reason is that for some reason the system is telling me that we have exceeded our allocation of space and I have been trying to get us back below it but I have now given up and am seeking help as I think there may be something else wrong as well. Please bear with us during this (hopefully) brief hiatus – I will keep you informed. If anybody wants a photo that has been deleted please let me know. Please also let me have any useful shots as I’m sure we will get back to a position where we can use them and I’m always glad to receive your piccies.

New Year is both a reflective and a hopeful time. So, in no particular order, the following are my hopes for the new year about to hit us.

  1. The footpath through Brampton Island is finally opened by the recalcitrant landowner
  2. The remainder of the footpath is maintained to a higher standard than in the previous year by NCC
  3. We make a start on our riverside projects
  4. There is a growth in our membership and activity
  5. We continue to reach out with talks and community events (speakers available at no cost although donations are not refused)
  6. We manage to hold at least one spring or summer fund raising event – how about a garden party?
  7. On a non-BNCT note work begins towards getting a new Keel built for community use throughout the Broads and even further afield.
  8. On a personal note 2013 may be the year in which I work my final full year before retirement although I would prefer that my options stayed rather more open than that.
  9. I would also like to see further work done towards the protection of the Scottish Wildcat, Britain’s one and only truly wild feline species that is under great threat.
  10. Finally is it to much to ask for greater peace in the world?

Don’t want much do I? Have a happy New Year one AND all.

Now – an update !!!!!  We are back in the photographic business as the uploaded image below shows. I have had to delete a number of pictures but if you find your enjoyment of the site is diminished by a missing picture please let me know and I’ll try to restore it.

 

A seasonal wish

 

Christmas is just around the corner, the cards are written and the presents wrapped so why is my black dog out of its kennel again. Well to be honest it’s mostly because I don’t like the build-up to Christmas although normally I like the day itself but this year I shall be 185 miles from family including my grandson who I would dearly love to be with and there’ll just be the mehmsaab and myself although she’s actually working on the day and I’m on-call; c’est la vie.

There will not be another blog this side of Christmas so I will wish you all the compliments of the season and hope that next year will bring good things. Mind you somebody told me that the world will end on December 21st so perhaps best not make too many plans. This doom laden prediction is, apparently, based on a reading of the Mayan calendar. If you’re reading this on the 22nd or later, congratulations we all survived.

As I write we’ve gone through the cold weather and don’t I know it. A drive from Norwich to Manchester and back through freezing fog and temperatures below freezing all the way there and  back over 14 hours with work when I got there. I wont forget that one in a hurry but ironically it was strangely beautiful as was the heavy frost in the first light of dawn as I caught the 07:57 train from Wroxham one day in the week and noticed the ice on the water where it lay still. Even the basin occupied by Broad Boats looked strangely seasonal and beautiful.

There has been a lot of the wet stuff about and the river has been high but apart from brief flood warning there has been no flooding along the valley that I am aware of so we must be thankful. I do know however that the land is completely sodden and another good fall of rain will have nowhere to go. I look forward to the snow which as a child I loved and I’ve never really lost my delight in it but now I like to look at it from a warm house and through a window. I don’t mind being snowed in but I certainly don’t want to be snowed out!!! A little bit of seasonal white would be nice but not enough to make travel difficult for families trying to come together.

We look forward to 2013 as new challenges will face us and we really set about our business. Please consider joining us for the work needs you and your ideas. For me personally it is, possibly, going to be my last complete year of work before retirement and also the year in which I hope we can move forward with the Keel project although that is really for another time and place.

A very merry Christmas and a healthy, happy and wise new year to you all.

Footpaths and austerity

Sorry but I’m going to be political; you have been warned although it is with a small p. I’ve recently been to two very different meetings and they were both dominated by the subject of footpaths. Let me set my stall out at the outset; I know we are living in austere times economically and the public services have to cut their expenditure. Believe me I have more sympathy with the difficulties faced by our County Council than you can imagine – it isn’t easy and you can’t get a quart out of a pint pot. However I believe that with our footpath at least they are getting it wrong.

The County Council has a statutory duty to maintain footpaths but they quite simply aren’t doing it to their fullest. There are now very few staff dedicated to footpaths and the maintenance of rights of way is delegated to highways. Remember that next time you’re walking alongside the river; it’s now deemed to be a highway. Pedantically I suppose you could argue the toss about that and Wikipedia, the font of all knowledge, defines a highway as “…. any public road or other public way on land” so I suppose it is right. The trouble is the Highways Department has so many different competing calls on its time and financial resource that footpaths go way down the pecking order. To be fair to NCC they are putting some money in to the high profile trails but not the generality of footpaths.

On the Bure we have an existing path between Burgh and Coltishall and in places it is in an appalling condition. In one place it is obstructed and the route is not enforced. In another there is a bad repair following a breach that is, frankly, dangerous and in yet another location the path is falling in to the river at an alarming rate. This latter point is really the nub of the issue. This isn’t an ordinary path, it has an historic origin and is alongside a living, flowing and in places deep river. It is, when usable, much enjoyed and there are a number of circular walks that can be done which involve parts of it. It is however still a path by a river and as such could be an accident waiting to happen particularly where repairs are poor and the path is eroded. Falling in is a real danger and at times of spate would be desperate even for the fittest and most healthy. We don’t want to wait for an accident to happen before we get something done. BNCT is campaigning for improvements as are some individuals, parish councils and walkers groups. I believe that the answer may lie in getting the Bure trail status but in the meantime it is really important that if you walk the path and find a problem you must report it using the PROW form on the NCC website. The more that do this the more likely it is that they will take notice. If you find problems please also tell us at BNCT and your elected representatives at parish and county level. It isn’t rocket science nor is it special pleading (really it isn’t) as there is a statutory duty on the county to maintain the path and all we seek is that they actually do what they are required to do.

This is an example of unacceptable conditions at a point recently repaired after a breach between Oxnead and Buxton.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ramblers have issued a report which I think shows the scale of the problem very starkly. The report in to the reduction of funding for rights of way across the whole country is dated October 2012 and can be accessed here. This report identifies that Norfolk has cut its spending on footpaths by 69% and is right up there amongst the worst councils in this regard. Imagine the outcry if all Council expenditure was cut by this percentage. It is a cut too deep and should, in part, be reversed.

At our recent meeting we decided to put in some effort on this path and provide walkers and visitors with interpretation boards at selected points. This will make the path more attractive and will increase the usage over time. It is therefore essential that the path is as safe as it can be and passable without struggle. If they can get that right we can then undertake other improvements like seating at one or two spots. Please help us to achieve this by joining BNCT (email me at stu.wilson100@btinternet.com).

Norfolk County Council can find large sums of money when they need to; buying the ex-RAF Coltishall for example. They have to make decisions based on available funds but sometimes they get rather distracted by issues that don’t affect the majority in the county such as the Kings Lynn incinerator. All I ask is that a few bob gets spent making safe and good a path that gives a lot of people healthy walks and pleasure. They should not forget that those walkers, in the main, are their electors.