During the last few days I have walked or cycled the complete network of public footpaths and bridleways in Beachamwell (20 miles), checking the access, signage and condition of routes. I last carried a similar survey in January 2017. Then I reported that generally the network was in good condition, and I am pleased to report that the same positive situation continues.
Easy walking on FP4 through Smeeth Wood
Access is good on all routes, apart from the longstanding issue at Hall Barn, and barbed wire where BR1 joins the A1122.
Surface condition is often very good, although inevitably at this time of year mud can be a problem, exacerbated by the use of heavy farm machinery.
Failure to re-instate crossfield paths is a continuing issue. Landowners usually respond to requests to make good paths, but they are legally obliged to do this without prompting (and compliance is a condition of receiving money from the Rural Payments Agency).
Signage is better than in 2017, largely because of signs erected for the Warren Heritage Trail. Norfolk County Council also appears to have been adding fingerposts and marker posts to the network, which is good to see, but in places wastefully duplicating existing signage.
(FP = footpath; BR = bridleway; RB = restricted byway)
BR1 (Long Drove aka Searchlight Drove – from Beechamwell Road beyond Walter’s Cottages to A1122/Devil’s Ditch)
Fingerpost at junction with Beechamwell Road missing. Barbed wire obstructing access to A1122 at N end.
Barbed wire obstructing access to BR1 from the A1122
RB5 (From Beechamwell Road opposite the entrance to Beachamwell Hall to Lodge Farm and continuing towards Swaffham)
Path very muddy near Lodge Farm, but passable.
New ‘Bridleway’ fingerpost at Lodge Farm duplicates existing fingerpost.
Mud on RB5 near Lodge Farm makes walking and cycling difficult
BR9 (From near Hall Farm on Swaffham Road towards the Warren)
In places surface churned up by heavy farm machinery.
FP10 (From BR9 across Toot Hill to The Lodge)
North section beyond the tree belt not restored after cultivation. The route through the tree belt is not clear.
FP12 (from The Old School to join BR19a near Furze Hill)
Section across ‘asparagus’ field would benefit from marking. Southern section not made good after cultivation
FP13 (from The Old School to Hall Barn)
Longstanding issue at Hall Barn. The recently marked routes of both FP13 and BR19a still do not follow the correct line.
FP17 (through Larchwood)
Fallen tree limb across the path. Currently possible to walk round
Fallen tree on FP17, Larchwood
BR19a (from Hall Barn to the Gooderstone Road near Furze Hill)
Longstanding issue at Hall Barn.
The marked route across All Saints field does not follow the exact line.
FP21 (from Shingham cottages to sharp bend on Cockley Cley road)
Crossfield section at east end not marked. Landowner has promised to cut the path in spring.
BR22 (from sharp bend on Cockley Cley road to Langwade Drove near tumulus)
First section towards chicken farm is not on the correct line. Unfortunately a marker post has been erected here in the wrong position). Further west tree felling has disturbed the path surface. The fingerpost at the junction with Langwade Drove needs re-seating.
BR22: Surface and line of the path destroyed by recent tree felling. Finger post not fixed in place.
This is a slightly revised version of the report presented at the meeting of Beachamwell Parish Council held on 14th January 2019