John Rutter was amongst the keen cyclists at our January meeting. He organises group cycle rides for people who aren't particularly sporty but want to enjoy our local countryside from their bike. (contact him at email@example.com) John has many ideas about encouraging more cycling around Shaftesbury and commented that the proposed circular route and plans as presented by Brie Logan would be very helpful. He has provided the notes below:
Suggestions to Shaftesbury Town Council/VEAC.
Cycling in and around Shaftesbury.
We need roads, facilities and route planning to encourage cyclists to visit and to stay here whilst touring North Dorset/South Wilts. Also we need to encourage local cycle commuting to work and school. Factors to consider:
a) Local commuting to work/school – safe town cycle routes;
b) Cyclists arriving from away ie passing Shaftesbury en route to somewhere else – secure cycle parking and reasonably priced cafes;
c) Cyclists starting and returning to Shaftesbury – accommodation, route planning, maps, signposting and package providers such as Dan French https://www.dorset-adventures.com/;
2. Rescue back up – local mechanics, roadside recovery;
3. Routes/Infrastructure – way marking signage, maps, App, display QR codes;
4. e-bike tours;
5. Summer pop-up cafe – St Johns Churchyard, Castle Hill, Park Walk.
1. Shaftesbury/Gillingham. Build a Cycle track on the B3018 the Shaftesbury to Gillingham. Many people end up living in one town and driving to work in the other. Or commuting from Shaftesbury to the station for onward travel. Its only about 30 mins to cycle but at any time of day, especially in the rush hour, the traffic is fast and its no fun as a cyclist. The alternative route is a longer detour via Motcombe and Bay. We need a segregated cycle track from Shaftesbury to Gillingham alongside the B3081, like the one from Gillingham to Mere on the B3092. A cost saving could be made by building the cycleway from Gillingham to the Motcombe Turnpike and then via Motcombe to Shaftesbury;
2. Wilts/Dorset Cycle routes. Cycling from Salisbury/Wilton to North Dorset there are 3 routes;
a) The Chalke Valley to Berwick St John and Shaftesbury;
b) The Wyle Valley to Mere and
c) The Nadder Valley to Tisbury.
The first two routes are away from traffic, because there is a parallel main road, whereas the Nadder Valley is more busy. The Nadder Valley could be made more cycling friendly especially between Barford St Martin and Teffont on the B3089.
3. Salisbury/Templecombe Cycle route. The Tisbury route could made into a new cycling route: Salisbury, Wilton, Barford St Martin, Dinton, Tisbury, Semley, Gillingham, Templecombe etc. (And this could incorporate the Motcombe to Gillingham cycleway I suggested in No. 1 above). Because it tracks the railway it is relatively flat and the train can be used for different start and finish points. For example I used to cycle to Gillingham after work and take train into Salisbury then cycle back along the routes mentioned above or on the various off road routes e.g. the Ox Drove. There could be spur from this route off to Shaftesbury e.g. I cycle up from either Semley village or via Gutch Common.
1. St Johns Hill footpath.
I walk round Castle Hill and Park Walk with my elderly mother. There are lovely views and the walks are well kept. However the stretch between Castle Hill and Pine Walk necessitates navigating the traffic on St Johns Hill where there are no footways.
a) improve the signage/walking maps to show the link from Park Walk/Pine Walk to Castle Hill (and include the Churchyard);
b) in the churchyard cut down the few trees blocking the view to Melbury and provide a bench so that visitors can enjoy the views;
c) make a footway or mark a pedestrian footpath on the road; or
d) make zebra crossings by the Castle Hill exit and Churchyard exit and connect the two with a footpath inside the allotments; and
e) connect the Churchyard and Pine Walk by a footbridge;
f) Churchyard Cafe – in summer and/or weekend open cafe in the St John’s Hill churchyard. With views over Duncliffe and the Blackmore Vale. This could be a simple shed with outside seating. As parking is difficult deliveries could be by bike. The café could be run by an existing business a new business or TIC/volunteers. We could aim to attract cyclists and motor bikers by providing bike parking only.
g) I visit a bike café at Old Buckenham County Park, Norfolk where an entrepreneur has recycled and joined two commercial containers together to make a cafe in a park. It is now a mecca for cyclists in the region:
2. Breach Common.
I walk and cycle round Breach Common. This wood is a hidden gem for Shaftesbury. Whereas 50 years ago the cattle would have kept this common land to grass it is now a small wooded area with wildlife. However the seats which were installed to look at the view are obscured by trees. And the pond on the other side of the road is also hidden by undergrowth and trees. The main paths across the common are maintained by STC which is great. There is a Holloway going from the bottom of the common down to the Sherborne Causeway. This is an ancient road where the sides of the hollow are Stone walls but it is now overgrown and impassable. The footpath goes down the field adjacent to the holloway.
a) reinstating the pond for the insects, fish (?), ducks etc that would visit;
b) cut back some of the the trees to allow views across to Duncliffe etc
c) clear out the Holloway.
d) include this area in Shaftesbury walking routes (e.g. there is footpath starting from the top of Foyle Hill which takes you down across fields and gives great views across the Blackmore Vale. From there you can walk back via Breach Common).
1. Close St Johns Hill to large lorries. Put a width restriction at the junction with Foyle Hill or better at the junction with Coles Lane.
2. Close the High Street at the junction with Bimport down to the Grosvenor. Make High Street/Bell Street/Angel Lane one way;
3. Jubilee gardens need a makeover.
4. Erect information boards with QR web links for Smart ready visitors (links to STC website/Thisisalfred.com/Gold Hill Museum/SDHS/Shaftesbury local radio etc).
5. Put these routes on Google so that visitors can use their phones to navigate.
6. Put the walking routes on Google so that visitors can use their phones to navigate.
7. Abbey Development – can we rebuild the Abbey or part of it to make the site more interesting? The rebuilt Abbey could be used as retreat for meditation.
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