A recent notice on Cranfield University’s intranet site announced that from the week commencing 23 July a new timber post and rail fence were being installed around the North East of the Cranfield airport perimeter.
The footpath to Cranfield village is about 2.5km long and it circumnavigates the landing air strip at Cranfield airport. The footpath gets seriously waterlogged during wet weather and becomes unusable, as reported on our website earlier. The footpath is also poorly signposted, especially on the site of Cranfield University – many students and staff are thus unaware of the existence of the footpath and keep walking on the main road between Cranfield University and Cranfield village, risking being run over by cars.
After hearing rumours that Cranfield airport is being fenced around to deter any terrorist attack occurring during the London Olympics, Cranfield University walks went last week to investigate. During our walk on the footpath to check on the works being carried out, we can report that the footpath has not been blocked – something we have been worried about. Furthermore, we made these observations:
1. The first shortcut from the direction of Cranfield University (shown on the map as a curved dashed line) that is near the former air shelter is now not possible to undertake, unless you go under the new wooden rail fence. However, where previously the footpath was very narrow as running alongside the former air shelter – this area has now been cleared, bushes felled down and the footpath was made wider, which is a welcomed improvement.
2. The second shortcut ( shown on the map as a dashed line near the stiles) is still possible to follow. It allows to avoid going over the stiles and means walking parallel on the other side of the hedges before sharply turning left back onto the “official” part of the footpath. Cranfield University Walks would like to see this part of the footpath to become a fully recognised section of the route – that allows the footpath to Cranfield village become stiles-free. This section is already used by runners who wish to avoid the stiles and in the future could be used by cyclists, if the surface of the footpath ever gets turned into a cycle route as we are told, the university has been lobbying for this to happen.
3. The third shortcut on the other side of the runway away from Cranfield University, on the side of Cranfield village, is now blocked by the new fence. The new wooden fence extends the full length to the hedges, beyond the shortcut, and adds a good couple of hundred meters to the route.
Whilst it is pleasing that some attention – even if only as a side effect of the airport improvement works – is being given to the footpath to Cranfield village, an almost a 3km long wooden fence circumnavigating Cranfield airport and the footpath is not what is really required here. Instead, the footpath from Cranfield University to Cranfield village needs desperately better signs, better lighting and improvement to the surface of the footpath so it can be fully usable all around the year.
Better communication about the footpath to Cranfield village – to raise awareness of its existence amongst Cranfield University’s students and staff – is then expected to be one of the university’s priorities under its new “green travel plan.”
Do you have more information about the current works carried out on Cranfield village footpath? If so, contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
02 October 2011 – Our walk on Sunday afternoon aimed to introduce new students to the joy of walking to Cranfield village using a public footpath. This route is about 2.5 km one way and is a perfect running route, provided it is not too windy as it is quite exposed. This walk turned out to be a record-breaking event as more than 50 students attended! Luckily, we were prepared. Our group of experienced walkers covered front, middle and the back, namely: Eduardo, Graham, Periklis, Shiwei, Simon and myself. Once arriving at Cranfield village, we popped to Co-op supermarket and then had a short break, relaxing on the edge of the field, before embarking on the return journey. It was a peaceful walk except that our very long procession, spread out in its full length, did not escape the attention of Cranfield airport security staff.
We were confronted by their marked vehicle, lights flashing, near the point where the path diverges. “We are going to a tea party,” I replied innocently to the security man’s question; what was this all about? Which was true, we were on the way to join a tea party at Mitchell Hall, organised by the Community Centre. Our activity looked apparently suspicious – I guess, they have not seen so many people before using this public footpath at once. It was then suggested to us to follow the path religiously, which would mean going over the stiles. I had to refuse this suggestion politely as with such a large group, it was much easier (and safer) to use another option – a nice wide path that follows the hedge round the corner. This section is regularly used by runners and thus makes the walk to Cranfield village stiles-free – however this is an unofficial section of the public footpath that is not marked on Ordnance Surveymaps. We were let off on this occasion to continue on our planned route back but advised to seek an official permission from the university to use this unofficial small stretch of path in the future. Oh, no, not again – wouldn’t even know who to ask. Probably not Transport Team as they don’t feel strongly about walking falling into their department. Anyway, we had a lovely walk and did manage to get back to the tea party well ahead of time.