IMPORTANT NOTE

This website contains information specifically relating to the 2010-2016 HLF-funded CVLLP project.
It is likely that contact information and links may become out of date.
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CVLLP 18: Access to Heritage

Project Objective

To provide the highest practicable level of access and understanding of the Churnet Valley Living Landscape Partnership area by:

Hidden away amongst the valleys and uplands of the LPS are under-appreciated examples of past industries and their infrastructures. The CVLLP would seek to help bring to peoples attention some of these features and to make them more prominent. The Heritage Trails Report (JH 2011) identified three such routes that the CVLLP would like to bring forward:

Heritage Trail 1. Plateway Path

Heritage Trail 2. Towpath Trail (Oakamoor to Denstone)

Heritage Trail 3. In the footsteps of the Earl of Shrewsbury

Although the CVLLP Rights of Way Audit (K Tomkins & SCC 2011) recognised that the overall quality of right of way provision was to an acceptable standard, meaning that at this point CVLLP are not required to undertake a strategic range of access improvements, our Community Consultations (SMCVS 2011), discussions within the Access and Learning Steering Group and our Hotspots Audit (360 2011) identified the need for a number of small/medium scale access improvement requirements to specific sites:

Access 1. Harston Wood Nature Reserve

Access 2. Thorswood Nature Reserve

Access 3. Rodwood Nature Reserve

Access & Wildlife 4. Hawksmoor Nature Reserve

Access & Wildlife5. Cotton Dell Nature Reserve

Fit to existing strategies and objectives

The bringing together of individuals and organisations within a special location to work together with agreed goals is one aim of the Heritage Lottery Funded Landscape Partnership Programme. Our access to heritage sites and routes recognises just some of the small projects that, delivered together, have a greater value than the sum of their parts.

Comprehensive description of the project

Heritage Trail 1. Plateway Path

The route has been described (Plateway Path Report 2011) with one particular route being identified as suitable for promotion and interpretation. The Churnet Valley Living Landscape Partnership (CVLLP) propose to engage local guide and historian, John Higgins, to:

  • finalise arrangements with landowners and confirm this as a promotable route
  • work with our Practical Projects Officer to waymark and initiate access works
  • supply the Interpretation Project (CVLLP 17) with heritage details, in order to create a promoted route

Heritage Trail 2. Towpath Trail (Oakamoor to Denstone)

The route has been described (Towpath Trail 2001). The Towpath Trail follows as near as possible the route of the former Uttoxeter Canal. Although the railway was built over much of the canal bed, remains of the canal are still to be seen on either side of the railway trackbed. The report concludes that there should be no problem with creating a linear heritage trail along the old railway line, as this is already in county council ownership The Churnet Valley Living Landscape Partnership (CVLLP) propose to engage local guide and historian, John Higgins, to:

  • consult with landowners to determine suitability of Crumpwood access
  • consult with the CVLLP partnership and create a ‘way forward’ recommendation for CVLLP regarding how the Towpath Trail can be brought up to a condition suitable to become a promoted route
  • report to the CVLLP Interpretation project (CVVLP 17) to ensure this important route is promoted and interpreted as well as practicable prior to generating a promoted route

Heritage Trail 3. In the footsteps of the Earl of Shrewsbury

This route has been described (Footsteps of EoS 2011) and although the walk is of importance there are still a number of landowners with concerns and the “start-finish” point within Alton Towers is problematical. The Churnet Valley Living Landscape Partnership (CVLLP) propose to engage local guide and historian, John Higgins, to:

  • finalise arrangements with landowners and confirm this as a promotable route
  • work with our Practical Projects Officer to agree and place way-marking and undertake small access improvements where appropriate
  • supply the Interpretation Project (CVLLP 17) heritage details, in order to create a promoted route

The CVLLP Hotspot Audit (360 Consulting 2011) was initiated to consult with the widest possible set of individuals and organisation who have first hand experience of managing resources within the Churnet Valley. The key responses from this consultation was the need to manage visitors better, promote increased access responsibly and to better coordinate interpretation and access. Within the consultation there was also an opportunity for these site owner/managers to put forward specific projects they saw as important ways of achieving these outcomes. Many of these specific outcomes are beyond the reach of the Heritage Lottery Funded programme, such as:

  • a £20,000 access improvements to private attraction
  • the building and management of public toilets
  • the replacement of steam railway rolling stock
  • resurface council owned car parks
  • supply a seasonal shuttle bus

While CVLLP will continue to work across the community to source funding and partnerships to help achieve these aims, within the Heritage Lottery Project we have identified five specific, small, projects within the hotspot audit which we can deliver with immediate effect.

Access 1. Harston Wood Nature Reserve

Harston Wood Nature Reserve is managed by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust on a long lease, it is located right across the Froghall to Cauldon Plateway, described in the heritage route report (Plateway Paths 2011) and is a key point for interpretation linking the industrial uses of natural resources with today’s high biodiversity value woodlands in the valley (Described in CVLLP SoS). The current entrance from the Plateway onto the reserve in poor and the CVLLP Partnership has agreed that Staffordshire Wildlife Trust Reserves Manager will work with the Interpretation Team (CVLLP 17) to design and install an entrance feature.

This entrance feature should reflect the CVLLP ethos of linking nature, industry and community and should act as a prompt, (in quality and style) to other new-build markers within the CVLLP project. It is expected that the work will be carried out by a local artist/artisan contractor.

Access 2. Thorswood Nature Reserve

Thorswood Nature Reserve is owned and managed by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust; it is located on the hills overlooking the wooded valley and has been identified in the SoS as a key accessible site for linking human history and the rich grassland biodiversity of the Churnet Valley Living Landscape Partnership area. The Reserve will play an important role in the interpretation project (CVLLP 17) and the existing facilities require some upgrading, viz: anew surfaced track from car park to barn and partly enclose the barn for education use and picnics in poor weather. It is expected that the work will be carried out by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust mid-week volunteers.

Access 3. Rodwood Nature Reserve

Rodwood Nature Reserve is owned and managed by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust and has been identified not only as an important wildlife site for wildflowers in particular but also a readily visited example of the small field systems that are recognised within the Landscape Character Assessment. In order to facilitate the increased visitors we expect will occur as a result of improved interpretation of the valley, CVLLP have agreed that entrance improvements are required.

It is expected that the work will be carried out by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust mid-week volunteers.

Access & Wildlife 4. Hawksmoor Nature Reserve

Hawksmoor Nature Reserve is an important and robust nature reserve owned and managed by the National Trust, it is the largest heritage holding of the National Trust in the Churnet Valley Living Landscape Partnership area. The Staffordshire Way runs through the reserve and it is visited by large numbers of people every year; there is considerable scope for improved interpretation of the wildlife and industrial heritage of the reserve and to facilitate improved interpretation the CVLLP will work with the National Trust Manager to improve and/or build steps on eroded slopes along permissive routes; and develop woodworking (for traditional crafts) and bird hide (for bird watching) areas.

It is expected that the CVLLP Practical Projects Officer (CVLLP 23) and the Participation Officers (CVVLP 9) will work with the National Trust staff and volunteers to deliver these projects.

Access & Wildlife 5. Cotton Dell Nature Reserve

Cotton Dell Nature Reserve is owned and managed by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust, it is a wooded valley running from the hills, joining the Churnet at Oakamoor village. It is a woodland reserve that can be better promoted and used: it has been chosen for the construction of a small outdoor classroom (CVLLP 20). It is also a site where the investigation of better co-ordination between neighbouring landowners could result in major biodiversity gains, something that will be investigated by the Sustainable Woodland Project (CVLLP 1). In order to facilitate these initiatives, the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust will undertake a number of on-reserve footpath access improvements to permissive routes and RoWs. It is expected that the work will be carried out by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust mid-week volunteers.

Who will benefit?

All access and route improvements and marking projects identified under this project will take part either on Rights of Ways or sites that have 100% free and open access. Each piece of work has already been identified within the project as something that will physically improve our ability to initiate the high quality access and learning experience we plan to deliver as part of our interpretation project (CVLLP 17).

Outputs and outcomes

Measurable output

  1. Three new way-marked (or way identified) routes
  2. Two improved entrances to wildlife sites
  3. Three wildlife sites with improved access facilities

Outcomes

The three Heritage Trails will (together with the second stage of the geotrail CVLLP 17) completing the network of promoted routes through the valley, allowing people to access a full range of wildlife and industrial heritage areas of the valley.

The five access projects will facilitate the interpretation of important sites within the valley. Both sets of projects will set the grounding for future work on access and marking within the valley, where different sites and organisations will work together to deliver a consolidated programme of improvements for and with the community and visitors.

Tenure

All heritage routes will be delivered across public Rights of Way (or be part of long-tern access agreements), there is a requirement to gain permission for way-marking, but our aim is to reduce physical marking as much as practicable on private land.

All access and entrance works will be undertaken on land belonging to and owned by either the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust or the National Trust and, within reason physical works will be maintained for at least ten-years; and certainly access will be permitted well beyond then.

Risks and constraints

Risk: Failure of landowners to allow promoted routes.

Contingency planning: We have already undertaken research and consultation around this risk, where landowner permissions are not already in place they will be sought during the planning of works.

Invasive species

Each access project will be required to manage invasive species as part of the wildlife sites management plans.

Biosecurity

All access to private land carried out during the Heritage Trails projects will be undertaken on public Rights of Way (excepting as stated above), where CVLLP representatives are invited onto private land they will follow any biosecurity requirements made by the land managers.

All works on wildlife sites will be carried out in accordance with the biosecurity requirements of the host organisation.

Environmental Policy

Works will be carried out in accordance with the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust Environmental Policy.

The Churnet Valley Living Landscape Partnership is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund to conserve and enhance this unique landscape and heritage for all to enjoy.
Staffordshire Wildlife Trust Registered Office: The Wolseley Centre, Wolseley Bridge, Stafford, ST17 0WT. Registered as a company in England & Wales number 959609