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footpath Avoncliff to Freshford

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The Avoncliff to Freshford Footpath is it to be lost into the River Avon?


Due to the current economic climate Wiltshire Council continues to cut back on services.  One area is the Rights of Way Department, which is responsible for ensuring the maintenance of our local footpaths.  Their maintenance budget has been withdrawn for the balance of this financial year and they are now authorised only to effect emergency repairs to footpaths in the County.  Between Westwood and Freshford there is a good example of a footpath which may soon be lost to us unless some serious maintenance work is done.


During the last year the Ramblers Association’s West Wiltshire Ramblers Group drew the attention of Westwood Parish Council to the condition of the Avoncliff to Freshford footpath.  This well used path has been deteriorating for several years.  The Westwood end of the path, adjoining the boundary with Freshford, is extremely muddy and slippery.  Because of the danger of slipping into the river we have suggested that this part be moved higher to the edge of the woods and, therefore, away from the edge of the River Avon.  A causeway made from sleepers or stepping-stones might solve the problem.  It is believed that the Rights of Way Department can find a solution but it will require financial resources. 


Freshford’s section of the path is considerably worse.  The bank probably requires reinforcing and the drainage improving.  There is evidence of a former metaled track slightly higher up the bank.  Perhaps this could be reinstated? Bath & North East Somerset’s Rights of Way Department has advised us that they will be taking up the footpath’s problems in their 2015/16 budget. This is encouraging but it needs support at the Westwood end from Wiltshire Council.


It behoves all that use the Avoncliff to Freshford path to make sure that Wiltshire Council and B&NES find the resources to do the necessary work. Paths should not be seen as luxuries.  The rights of way network provides vital links for local communities and allows people to access the countryside to exercise, relax and encounter nature.  Not only does walking generate vital income in rural areas, it is the closest thing to perfect physical activity and is a free, easy, effective and accessible way of achieving the recommended 150 minutes a week of moderate activity. 


I suggest that all users ensure that their local Councillors are made aware of the Avoncliff to Freshford path, and the need to rectify its problems.


Brian Micklam, Footpaths Secretary, West Wilts Ramblers Group.



Freshford side of the parish boundary. An extensive slippery narrow part of the footpath with no effective fence.


The Freshford side of the parish boundary. the footpath has no effective fence. The path is narrow and slippery.


The worst part of the Avoncliff to Freshford footpath is just inside the Westwood Parish boundary at least this part of the footpath is not narrow which poses the danger of slipping into the river Avon.

Walkers have been using the adjoining land to bypass the mire and have removed the lower barbed wire from the stock fence to rejoin the field. A gate here would be useful given the landowners consent to encroach on the land when the usual route is unpassable

Dogs (fouling of Land) Act 1996 Example

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Another example of dog poo. Sorry dog, its not your fault! on someone's drive.

Maybe a DNA test could be used to identify the dog (or rather its owner) Incidentally, paternity DNA tests for dogs are cheaper than that for humans -probably because they are more common!

I wonder whether we need to put a notice up on our land: No dog poo allowed! Cat poo is another issue but not well documented. But whatever the animal they know that one does not s**t in one's own backyard!

In praise of cats, apart from being a lot more cuddly than dogs they do catch a lot of vermin, your big fluffy cat can quite easily kill a large rat. I once had a cat who used to actually use the toilet, although he couldn't pull the chain! and the same cat did a poo over the plug hole of the bath! I then decided it was time to cut a cat flap into my garden door. Much to the relief of my cat when he was chased by a fox (I was living in London at the time)

Dogs (fouling of Land) Act 1996 Applies to Freshford Somerset as Well

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Photographed today in Crowe lane, just outside the Vicarage. Some Freshford dog owner allowed their dog to, lets put it politely poo on the pavement. This is not illegal, unless the dog owner or person in charge of the dog failed to remove the excrement, poo or s**t which they failed to do. Someone in Freshford Somerset, or Freshford Wiltshire knows that their dog did this mess, what was going on in their mind at this time? Certainly not a concern for Shared Spaces

Unfortunately, it looks as if someone as already trod in it, I wonder what they said: "Oh dear I have trod in some poo" or "s**t!"

Dogs (fouling of Land) Act 1996

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Its unfortunate that some people are unwilling to collect and dispose of their dog's excrement. part of the pleasure of living in the countryside is to use footpaths rather than roads. However, I won't use my local bridleway at night because I don't want to tread in dog poo. I understand that unless a footpath or bridleway is maintained by the local authority there is nothing preventing dog owners from allowing the dog to foul the ground on which people including children may walk.

During the day, if I do notice dog poo I pick up a stick and use it to move the poo off away from the pathway. for footpath, pavements and other ground that is either owned of maintained by the local authority it is now (since 1996) an offensive for the person in charge of the dog to not take steps to remove that dog's excrement. For B&NES council's information visit:

Within Freshford village there are footpaths that are regularly fouled by dogs. What could be a safer option for parents taking their children to school is thus denied to them by the selfish attitude of the dog owner. Under the circumstances, anyone seeing a dog fouling the footpaths, pavements and council owned land should tactfully remind the person in charge of the dog that they should remove the offending excrement. It is not sufficient under the law to just move the poo off to one side, it has to be removed. (However, if you are not in charge of the dog, then why not follow my example and use a stick to move the poo off  the pathway)


"Bath and North East Somerset Council adopted the Dogs (Fouling of Land) Act 1996 in September 1998.  The whole of Bath and North East Somerset was designated, which means that any person in charge of a dog must clean up after it forthwith, on any land which is open to the air and to which the public are entitled or permitted to have access.  A copy of the Designation Order can be viewed at the Council Offices, Riverside, Keynsham.

Failure to clean up after your dog is an offence.  Anyone seen allowing their dog to foul and not clean up after it will be approached by the Dog Warden and will either be put forward for prosecution, or be issued a Fixed Penalty of £50.  The owner will have the opportunity to pay the Fixed Penalty and thereby avoid conviction.  The Penalty would have to be paid within 14 days.  If it is not paid, the owner may be prosecuted and, if found guilty of the offence, fined a maximum of £1,000.

Registered Blind persons with dogs are the only exemption.

The Act does not apply to: 

  • roads outside the 40mph limit and land running alongside them
  • agricultural land (other than footpaths that cross them)
  • commercial woodland
  • rural common land
  • land which is predominantly marshland, moor or heath"



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