A COUNTY councillor has been praised for restoring a ‘horribly neglected’ historical footpath in Abingdon.

Liberal democrat Nathan Ley, who represents Abingdon North on Oxfordshire County Council, was told by a resident about the historical path between Crosslands Drive and Bourlon Wood.

They said it ‘used to be a nice little route’ but it had become impassable due to overgrowth and shrubbery.

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Mr Ley decided to make it his mission to restore the footpath but it is unknown which authority is responsible for the old route.

Despite this, the county council took on the job of restoring the old path and the work has been praised by residents.

Mr Ley said: “It’s not entirely clear who’s responsibility it is to maintain today but recently I asked my council to sort it anyway, and they have duly obliged.

“My thanks to officers and contractors for coming out in the cold today, and to Ivan for the idea. We all care about our neighbourhood, sometimes it just takes a bit of effort and willing to make the positive change happen.

Oxford Mail: Before and after by Nathan LeyBefore and after by Nathan Ley (Image: Nathan Ley)

“It gives us all another option for a walk without getting legs cut up by brambles and shrubs - go and try it out -  but maybe more importantly that’s a tiny piece of history preserved too.”

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One resident praised the councillor, saying: “That is brilliant. It is a really nice route which, until all the hard work carried out today, has been impassable for many years.”

Another said that the council had done ‘fantastic work’ and it was ‘nice to learn’ about the history of the path which goes back hundreds of years.

“According to the public right of way explorer map it’s classified as ‘footpath’,” said Mr Ley. “Strange place for it, I thought, as it doesn’t save that much time.

Oxford Mail:

“But then I followed it with my eye, and it looks like it clearly follows an imaginary straight line over the footbridge, past the allotments, across the fields and then into Shippon.

“A quick look at the historic maps and it looks like it was clearly the way to get by foot between what is now Wootton Road and Shippon, hundreds of years ago.

“It’s just that the small matter of the A34 and development now obscures it.

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“Today, in 2023, the eastern end of this path ends up being sandwiched between the back of Crosslands Drive and Bourlon Wood squeezed on either side.

“But it has just about persisted nonetheless, despite all the passing of time, even if it was technically impassable.”


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This story was written by Gee Harland. She joined the team in 2022 as a senior multimedia reporter.

Gee covers Abingdon, Didcot, Wallingford and Wantage.

Get in touch with her by emailing: gee.harland@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @geeharland