WindcrossPaths publish a collection of hand drawn and illustrated maps and leaflets for walks and areas of interest around the Golden Triangle area – known for its Daffodils and Poets – in the NW corner of Gloucestershire.
AIMS OF THE WINDCROSS PATHS GROUP
1. To oversee the upkeep and improve the quality and accessibility of all public footpaths, bridleways and rights of way within a 7-mile radius of the Windcross Crossroads (near Dymock, Gloucestershire)
2. To promote specific named walks within this area, on established footpaths and rights of way, both those already in existence e.g. Daffodil Way, Poets’ Paths 1 and 2, Poets’ Cottages Walk, Centenary Walks: Dymock Forest, etc. as well as creating new named walks of varying lengths over the course of time. Also to publish leaflets available at cost to the public with walk descriptions, directions and annotated maps for all named walks developed by the WPG.
3. In carrying out Aims 1 and 2 above the WPG will strive to promote knowledge and recognition of the beautiful and varied countryside of our area on the borderlands of three English counties: Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire. This is to be carried out via publicity locally, regionally and nationally.
4. To actively seek and encourage those with parallel interest to join our efforts, whether formally or casually, in order to constitute a lobby and enlist the support of Local Authority Officers and councillors and countryside agencies.
5. To liaise with and co-ordinate work with existing local groups and organisations and, primarily, to facilitate the publicity and distribution of information created by these organisations that sustains access to the countryside via local walks and cycle trails.
To use our network of members to broadcast our successes and thus inspire similar initiatives in other rural locations in the country.
THE WINDCROSS PATHS GROUP: A LITTLE BACKGROUND HISTORY
Starting in 1986 with the arrival in Dymock of Roger Clarke and his observation in the parish magazine on the sorry state of the footpaths in and around the village, a group of keen walkers got together to try to open up footpaths in our four local parishes (Dymock, Kempley, Donnington and Preston) – centred around the Windcross crossroads – hence the name. Following on from the group’s initial survey of the state of the paths, they agreed to focus their attention on creating one circular 10-mile route which they named “The Daffodil Way”. With the help of the Manpower Services Commission, work was carried out to erect stiles, build footbridges, cut back undergrowth and waymark the whole route. Finally, the path was officially opened in 1988 by the then Chairman of the Countryside Commission.
Flushed with this success, and using the Dymock Poets as the theme, a Poets’ Path (1) of 8 miles was created in 1989 running east from Dymock’s St. Mary’s Church, taking in the Gallows (links to Robert Frost and also where Rupert Brooke’s The Soldier was published), then a second Poets’ Path (2) in 1990. This one headed north this time from St. Mary’s, taking in Little Iddens (Robert Frost again) and Oldfields (Edward Thomas) towards Leddington, then The Old Nail Shop (Wilfrid Gibson) at Greenway Cross. The Ordnance Survey were approached are asked to include the three routes on their relevant maps. This eventually happened on both the pink Landranger (1:50,000) and orange Explorer(1:25,000) series. The routes are now known at regional and even national level, having been the subject of full articles in the travel sections of both the Daily Telegraph and The Times, among other publications.
The last addition to the named walking paths in 2014 was the shorter Dymock Poets’ Cottages Walk which also takes in Little Iddens and Oldfields as well as Preston Church with its John Masefield ties.
Most recently, in early 2020, in conjunction with Forestry England, we updated our old leaflet on Walks in Dymock Woods into the new “Centenary Walks: Dymock Forest” to mark the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Forestry Commission.
Much credit goes to Barbara Davis for her work with the group over the years in illustrating the maps to accompany each of the named walks, and Tony Williams who was involved in all the hard work from the beginning. Tony retired from his role as Chairman of the Windcross Paths Group in 2015.
Since 2015 the Windcross paths group, under its new chairman, Mike Townsend, has concentrated on updating the descriptions of the four major named walks mentioned above, as much has changed over the years, especially in the introduction of kissing gates to replace many of the old stiles. The group is now well into the process of getting these new leaflets published. We have also expanded the number of our contact outlets where we sell not only the walk leaflets, but also help distribute leaflets on the Masefield and Ledbury Heritage trails as well as a number of local cycle routes.
The WPG collaborates with the Moment Centenary Project, looking at the forces which affected land use and our local landscape at the critical period 100 years ago, during and in the aftermath of the First World War. We are continuing to look into paths and rights of way in our wider area with a view to establishing new routes and ensuring the upkeep of the established ones.