New Route Investigation: Downham Market – Oxborough – Swaffham

Today I went out for another ride to investigate possibilities for some new National Cycle Network routes around Oxborough. The idea is for one route to run from Route 11 at Downham Market to Route 30 at Weeting, via Oxborough (see my previous post) and for another to link Oxborough to Swaffham and on to Route 13 at Bradenham.

I was looking at options for the route to cross the A134 near Stoke Ferry, and also for the routes from Oxborough to Swaffham. The most promising crossing point so far seems to be at Wareham, where there is an staggered crossing with an island. From Oxborough to Swaffham, the direct route through Cockley Cley would be ok, but the route further north via Beachamwell and Drymere seemed to be more pleasant and on quieter roads.

Route Inspection: RR30 Thetford to Thelnetham

I checked the section of Regional Route 30 between Thetford and Thelnetham today. The route itself was fine, and the surface of the Peddars Way section was ok. However, there were a few places where some additional signs were required:

  • At the junction with the B1111, the black and white chevrons sign has been replaced, and so the sign originally on one of the posts is gone.
  • On heading East from the Knettishall crossroads, there’s a convenient pole for a confirmation sign on the right-hand side of the road.
  • At the Hopton crossroads, the left-hand “Stop” sign is still hidden in bushes, so the cycle route sign on the back is not as visible as it could be.
  • At the Thelnetham corssroads, there’s a convenient sign post that should have confirmation signs added to it.

Route Inspection: RR30 Weeting to Thetford

brandon-lamp-postI checked up on Regional Route 30 from Weeting to Thetford today. The route and signs were all fine, though I did notice one issue that I hadn’t spotted before. When the street lamps were replaced in the area around the Brandon level crossing, it seems that one of the new columns (labelled “1 Brandon Road”) was placed within an already narrow section of cycle path. The width between the post and the painted white line is now only about 75cm, and the width from the post to the edge of the curb is less than 110cm. Both of these measurements are far less than DfT guidelines (Local Transport Note 2/08) for the minimum width of shared use cycle paths.

I have therefore contacted Norfolk County Council Highways to enquire how the lamp column came to be installed in such a poor position and what can be done to improve things now.

Update (2014-08-04)

I’ve now had a comprehensive reply from Norfolk County council. Apparently the column was supposed to be positioned off the cycle path, but when the contractor came to install it, they discovered some underground services in the way. As a result, the column location was moved. The council say they weren’t consulted about the move, and are investigating whether it will be possible to move the column back off the path. If not, they say that they’ll try to make it more conspicuous.

Possible New Route: Downham Market to Weeting

Today I went on an exploratory ride to investigate a possible new NCN route form Downham Market to Weeting, via West Dereham, Oxborough, and Foulden. Such a route would provide an alternative to the existing Route 30 between Weeting and Ten Mile Bank, provide a link to the National Trust property Oxburgh Hall, and also make it easier to eventually link Swaffham in to the NCN.

Most of the route I tried seemed fine. There are a couple of options near the start: namely whether to cross the A143 at Wereham of Stoke Ferry. There’s also a busy stretch on the C873 into Weeting at the end. I tried an off-road alternative to the east via Pilgrim’s Way, but I think the condition of the surface there isn’t good enough.

I’ll be liaising with other members of the ranger group to get their input on the route, and then hopefully we’ll put together a definite proposal for Sustrans to consider.

Group Meeting

Tonight we held a group meeting in the Deer’s Leap, Thetford, with volunteer rangers from the Thetford and Waveney Valley group and two Sustrans staff members: the volunteer projects officer for the East of England, and the area manager for Norfolk and Suffolk. The meeting was a nice opportunity for everyone to get to know one another, and we had productive discussions on a number of issues. These included problems on existing routes, possible diversions and new routes, and the training and support available from Sustrans.

Peddars Way Flooding

As part of a longer bike ride, I returned to Thetford along Regional Route 30 from Watton. Part of this route is off-road along the Peddars Way. The surface is mostly pretty good for cycling, and would be fine with a hybrid bike. However, one section adjacent to Thompson Water is prone to flooding, and was almost impassible today. I was only able to pass by squeezing up the bank on foot and leaning inwards on my bike while wheeling it through the water.

IMAG1426

The water probably wasn’t that deep for a bicycle, but given the size of the flooded area and being unable to see the state of the ground beneath, people shouldn’t be expected to try to cycle through. Walkers would also be reluctant to try to wade it, and the water in the middle would probably overcome most walking boots.

IMAG1428

I’ve previously reported this issue to Norfolk County Council (the route is a Public Footpath, which they have a duty to maintain, at least for walkers), but nothing seems to have been done. I’ll also contact National Trails, since the problem lies on both the Peddars Way and the Peddars Way Cycle Route. If the flooding issue cannot be addressed, we will probably need to look at diverting route 30. It would be a shame not to be able to make use of the otherwise pleasant Peddars Way route.

Update (2014-07-09)

I received a prompt reply from The Peddars Way & Norfolk Coast Path manager on 9th June, who wrote:

I am aware of the situation along that section of the Peddars Way. Indeed I carried out some surface work there in the past.

Whilst my priorities are for walkers along this section, I can inform you that I have allocated a moderate budget to alleviate the flooding this year. As soon as our prioritised work load allows we will be delivering this work. Although I cannot confirm an exact date at this time, please be assured I plan to complete this before the autumn.

So perhaps we will not need to divert the NCN route after all.

Route Inspection: RR30 from Weeting to Thetford

For a change I cycled this section of the route in the other direction, as part of a longer ride. The signage was mostly ok, though I did have to replace two missing signs, caused by the posts they’d been attached to having been replaced or removed. First a sign on the C38 coming in to in Weeting, and secondly, a lamp post in Brandon.

IMAG1292   IMAG1360

Also, cycling in the other direction, I did notice a couple of points where some additional signs would be useful — first at the bottom of Croxton Road in Thetford to direct cyclists to use the crossing on the right to cross London Road, and secondly along Green Lane in Thetford to give riders the confidence to ignore the “no through road” sign. I’ll look in to addressing these issues shortly.

New Cycling Infrastructure Guides

Back in February, British Cycling launched their cycling manifesto Time to #ChooseCycling, with a ten-point plan of high-level measures to improve cycling in the UK. In the last couple of weeks, the CTC, Cyclenation and Sustrans have all launched new guides showing how to develop cycle-friendly infrastructure. The three guides overlap to some degree, but are also complementary and aimed at slightly different audiences. They’re all worth a read.

Route Inspection: RR30 from Diss to Thetford

As part of a longer ride, I checked most of the section of Regional Route 30 from Diss to Thetford. The existing signs were pretty much all fine, but I did note a few places where an additional confirmation sign would be useful. In particular, an additional sign would be useful when approaching Crackthorn Corner from the east, a sign on the western approach to the B1113 crossing is obscured by a residential hedge, and an additional pair of signs would be useful at the Thelnetham cross roads. As previously noted, we could do with some additional confirmation signs along the C148 between Bridgham and Thetford, but there are no suitable poles or posts to attach them to there.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.