by Clive Knight
Phil, Frank, Peter White and I have started to clear the grass that has overgrown the edges of the path that cuts out the flooded bit by Puddle Corner. We were surprised to see how far the grass has encroached onto the path. We estimated that clearing both sides has opened up the path by around 80-90cm. We haven’t reached half way but hope to finish next week.
We are NOT planning to tackle any other sections; it is hard physical work and a job far beyond what we feel is reasonable for our volunteer group. It really needs a machine.
I am going to send these pictures to the Countryside Team and to FoSCP’s Management Committee and ask them to pass the problem over to Wiltshire Council. This is the newest section of the path so we wonder how much of the main path has been reduced in width over the years, leaving an ever-narrowing path which just erodes even faster. We also wonder how badly the roots of the grass and more deeply rooted plants are damaging the over-grown surface.
We know the council is under financial pressure, but they have not spent money on the reserve’s infrastructure for many years and at some point they have to address neglect like this.
All photographs taken by Clive Knight
After this wet cold winter, the poor park is looking a bit battered. Clive is right – it needs a bit of money spent on it.
We are having a lot of conversations amongst ourselves that there are tasks like this that need to be addressed on the reserve that are down to the lack of investment from the Council and which are beyond our ability.
Top of the list for investment should be some proper signs to show people that this is a nature reserve, not a dog walking park.
Back to the path; I am surprised that there are no appreciative replies from Park runners for all the hard work put in by Clive and company to improve their experience every Saturday.
The fact that no park runners have commented with praise and thanks about the hard work done on the path points to possible explanations: 1. Not a single park runner has seen this post or 2. The park runners just take it for granted that the run is there for them.
Ossie Jones is correct – the park is a bit battered. It always looks bad during winter, but this year is the worst it has looked. So many more desire lines have opened over the past few months, making wooded areas look more battered and muddy.
Things will continue to get worse whilst the place has no rules (I know people hate rules, but we have them for a reason) and it is essentially a free-for-all for people to do what they want. So we get back to the subject of signs, and Suzanne is absolutely correct.
In terms of investment, the Council will never have decent money to spend on the reserve, so is it not unreasonable to ask the runners contribute financially? Imagine if they had each paid only one pound to run every Saturday. There would be a decent amount of money to go towards maintenance off the path. Surely a small contribution from the runners isn’t too much to ask?
The question also has to be raised that is it even a good idea for the park run to take place in the reserve during the winter when the reserve is at its wettest and most likely to be damaged by hundreds of runners?
It’s very sad. We currently have a Nature Reserve where it seems nature comes last after dog walkers and runners. Whilst there are some positive steps in progress towards protecting one area for wildlife, it will take time and many people will complain about it, and there is still a chance it won’t happen.
Maybe it’s simply time that management of the reserve was taken over by another organisation that can put wildlife first…
I’m sorry to hear the problems you are experiencing perhaps charging park runners a small fee for maintaining the route is a good idea!
Part of the parkrun philosophy is that there is no charge to either join the group or to use the parks (all over the country) that they run in. It’s difficult to assess how much of the wear and tear that the reserve’s main path suffers is down to the runners. It’s much easier to guess how much they benefit from running and maybe Wiltshire Council’s Health and Wellbeing Board should consider a contribution.