Beat the Street is Back

Beat the Street is Back

Residents encouraged to sign up for Beat the Street 2019 

Beat the street is back! Beat the Street is set to return to Swindon and residents can now pick up their cards ready to join in the fun when the game launches. 

2019 is the second year of the initiative running in Swindon. Beat the Street encourages people to get active outdoors. It turns whole towns and cities into a giant game. Players tap cards and fobs against sensors called Beat Boxes while walking or cycling to earn points. Whether competing as a team or an individual there are prizes to win.

Last year’s event was a huge success. An unprecedented 32,000 local people took part. They walked and cycled a massive 313,000 miles in six weeks. A record for any of the Beat the Street challenges so far. 

This year’s challenge begins on Wednesday, 25 September and runs for six weeks. 

A launch event will be taking place on the day from 4pm – 6pm at the GWR Park on Faringdon Road. There will fun activities and double points available on Beat Boxes. 

Intelligent Health organize the game with funding from the National Lottery via Sport England and Swindon Borough Council.

Beat the Street starts on 25th September, and cards and maps will shortly vavailable from distribution points including Swindon Central Library.

From left: Peter Barrett and Omelia Legg, library and info assistants at Swindon Central Library pictured with Stuart Arthur from Beat the Street.

Primary school pupils will have a fob given to them. Other players can collect cards and a map for free from distribution points across Swindon. They include selected supermarkets, libraries and leisure centres.

Find a full list of distribution points at www.beatthestreet.me/Swindon.

How to play

Players can choose to join a school or workplace team, set up their own community group or join one of the teams playing on the charity leaderboard for one of the Mayor’s chosen charities. They are: Swindon and North Wiltshire Deaf Children’s Society or CALM (Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Movement). 

Councillor Brian Ford, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Adults and Health, said:

“Beat the Street is only one week away. So make sure you pick up a card and map so that you’re ready to start earning points for your chosen school or team straight away. 

“We’ve already seen lots of excitement ahead of the game kicking off. Primary schools are eager to travel even further than last year and lots of workplaces and community teams are signing up to play. Beat the Street is a fun way to get active and explore new areas of Swindon. So I encourage people to get involved. Last year we were one of the top towns so let’s beat that this year and be the top town in the country.”

On the theme of exploring Swindon have a root round:

  1. https://swindonian.me/category/parks-and-open-spaces/
  2. https://swindonian.me/category/artscultureheritage/west-swindon-sculpture-walk-artscultureheritage/

More information is available at www.beatthestreet.me/Swindon.

Discovering the River Ray Parkway – Part 2

Discovering the River Ray Parkway – Part 2

You may (or may not) remember that Angela and I walked half of the River Ray Parkway last year, from Moulden Hill to John Lewis. This summer (2019) we finally got around to walking the second half, John Lewis to Coate Water in our tour of the River Ray Parkway part 2.

We went out the back of the Mannington Retail Park, looking for the old green signs that show the way. We found the first one on the edge of a field used by dog walkers, pointing us towards the Old Town Rail Path, following Sustrans Route 45.

NB: This stretch of this walk is approx 5 miles

River Ray signpost near Mannington Retail Park
  • Blagrove Fitness Trail
  • Lydiard Country Park
  • Old Town Rail Path
  • Coate Water Country Park
  • Blue Route 45 signs – Old Town 2 miles, Wroughton 2 miles

Discovered a new thing already, anyone have a clue what “Blagrove Fitness Trail” is (or was!) ?

The Parkway continues along the Old Town Rail Path, which is the former route of the Midland and South Western Junction Railway, closed in 1970. Along this path we rediscovered the 5 Wheel Sculptures, previously visited by Angela in 2013, looking a little worse for wear.

One of five stone wheels on the Railway Path

The first wheel, “conceive”, grafftied but still readable, says:

“Stepping out of character, you interrogate a chaos of bearings. Where is the unknown journeyman, with his bag of fives, his measuring rod and chisel”

A bit more on the wheel sculptures

There are five wheels, from the Old Town direction towards the railway and Wootton Bassett Road. They are Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Conceive.

Each wheel has two parts, a small wheel showing the Element, and a large wheel with a short piece of poetry.

In addition, there is a length of wood crossing the path between each of the wheel pairs. Each of these lengths of wood has two words written on them.

AIR: On hot places behind your knees On high downs a ghost is growing. Depth & disquiet.

EARTH: Our wheels relinquish and seize, relinquish and seize….Curious tenderness..second word obscured

Fire: Pistons swell and shine, days are like face, Steam pumps the sky, this one this…Extinguished – the second word is hidden

WATER:  The stream fills a cut, Swills and wave, A new start, gravel and laughter, tick tock on the rim – the two words on the sleeper are not visible

CONCEIVE:  Stepping out, out of character, You interrogate, A chaos of bearings, Where is the unknown journeyman with his bag of fives, his measuring rod and chisel?  Hand & Eye

See also: https://swindonian.me/2013/07/22/the-mysterious-world-of-the-strange-more-unknown-public-art/

The route took us past all the wheels, and some fantastic views out over the south edge of Swindon.

View over the south of Swindon
View over the south of Swindon

Near the end of the Rail Path, the cutting gets deeper, and passes under Westlecot Road. This end is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest by Natural England, as it shows all the layers of rock that Swindon is sitting on. Shortly afterwards we passed under another bridge, with Devizes Road and The Plough Inn on top of it, out of the cutting into the sunshine again.

The route now follows the road through the Signal Way industrial estate, sneaks out at the end of Berenger Close (which we almost didn’t find), and over the top of Evelyn Street, still following the old Rail Line.

Piper's Way River Ray sign

Next to the Piper’s Way roundabout we discovered another sign.

  • Great Copse
  • Lydiard Country Park
  • Coate Water Country Park
  • Old Town Rail Path
  • Moulden Hill

From the sign we headed south along Piper’s Way, crossing over to take the off-road path around the allotments on the east side. Just after the allotments a further sign pointed us off road, onto a track that leads all around the edge of the Broome Manor Golf Complex.

Here we were excited to discover a stone marker, planted in memory of Cassandra Clunies-Ross, carved by Sarah Chanin in 1992. The work is carved in Sarsen stone and was commissioned by Thamesdown Borough Council’s, Great Western Community Forest Team. The stone marks an area of what was then new woodland.

The inscription reads:

Casso’s Wood – planted January 1992 by friends, in fond memory of Cassandra Clunes Rosss, ecologist-forester. 1965-1991. That her work to conserve woodland here and abroad is not forgotten.

The last part of the trail had us squeezing past nettles and wondering if we were going the right way, before suddenly finding Broome Manor Lane, and the familiar sight of the Coate Water Park.

River ray parkway part 2

The final Parkway sign stands to the west of the lake, near the miniature golf course.

  • Lydiard County Park
  • River Ray Parkway
  • Cycle Route
  • Broome Manor Lane
  • Visitor Centre
  • Chiseldon

A further selection of photographs

The End

This is a guest post from Jess Robinson

Beat the Street

Beat the Street

September 2018

Beat the Street

Beat the street image

I love a bit of urban exploration around Swindon me – just some of which is covered in posts in this category: https://swindonian.me/category/walks-and-cycle-paths/

So this Beat the Street Swindon challenge sounds like fantastic family fun. Read more about it all below.

Swindon is set to be transformed into a giant game this autumn as thousands of residents compete to see if their school, community or business can walk, run or cycle the furthest.

Beat the Street Swindon

Running from 12 September to 24 October, Beat the Street is a free, fun challenge where people are rewarded with points and prizes for exploring their town on foot or bicycle.

More than 160 special sensors called ‘Beat Boxes’ will appear across Swindon. Players tap the Beat Boxes with cards and fobs to track their journey and earn points for themselves and their team – the more Beat Boxes people swipe the more points they earn.

Schools and community groups across Swindon will be competing against each other to see if they can travel the furthest, climb the leaderboards and win hundreds of pounds worth of sport and fitness equipment.

Families are encouraged to play for their local school. While the wider community can create their own teams by emailingteam.swindon@beatthestreet.me.

Beat the Street is being funded in Swindon by Sport England and Swindon Borough Council.

Bring your community together to explore your area by walking, cycling or running.

Visit their website at: www.beatthestreet.me/swindon  

And find Beat the Street on Facebook.

Twitter: @BTSSwindon

To get involved:

Beat the Street runs from Wednesday 12 September 2018 – Wednesday 24 October 2018 and anyone living, working or going to a school in Swindon is eligible to take part.

Pick up a card near you. Selected supermarkets, libraries and leisure centres will start distributing cards from 6 September. 

Beat the Street is being delivered by Intelligent Health and is funded by The National Lottery through Sport England, and Swindon Borough Council.

Want to find out more or set up a team? Email team.swindon@beatthestreet.me

 

Blue Plaques in Swindon

Blue Plaques in Swindon

August 2018

Blue Plaques in Swindon

There are now a number of blue plaques in Swindon. The most recent being unveiled on June 16th, 2018 on Swindon Civic Day.

The plaque was installed on the exterior of the Health Hydro – aka Milton Road Baths.

 

The health hydro in pictures

Swindon Civic Voice: https://www.swindoncivicvoice.org.uk

Here’s a table from the website of Swindon Heritage showing the blue plaques so far, showing where they are and their date of installation:

Blue Plaques in Swindon

 

  1. Edith New
  2. Harold Starr – and John Starr
  3. Diana Dors
  4. Sam Allen: ‘Swindon Town manager and football pioneer Sam Allen (the sixth-most longest-serving manager in Football League history), and was unveiled on May 19, 2018, by former Swindon Town footballer John Trollope MBE, and Sam’s granddaughter-in-law, Pat Chapman.
  5. Milton Road Baths’
  6. To come –  Ralph Bates – excited about this one!

Former STFC player, John Trollope MBW and some Allen family members unveiled his plaque, while Tamara Dugdale, Edith New’s great-neice, unveiled hers.

Tom Saward of the Swindon Advertiser put together this map of where to find the blue plaques which he kindly let me use.

https://www.google.com/maps/d/u/0/viewer?mid=12_AkgTEpaT89qLWeUSEgCLXTj4koNgWc&hl=en_GB&ll=51.55720517721625%2C-1.7862112499999512&z=16

Swindons blue plaques

There is though another plaque tucked away in Old Town, in Newport Street, which tells its own story. The photo is taken from this Blip photo blog by Maureen Isles: https://www.blipfoto.com/entry/2228808359820132491

Site of Swindon's Free school

https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/wilts/vol9/pp159-168#p1

‘In 1764 a free school for the working classes was provided in a cottage Newport Street, to educate 20 boys and 5 girls on land owned by the Goddard family, but very soon the number of pupils outgrew the accommodation and a two storey stone-built National School was built on the same site in 1835.  Among its pupils in the 1860s was future author, Richard Jefferies, mentioned in my Blip about Jefferies Avenue a few weeks ago.’

From: https://www.british-history.ac.uk/vch/wilts/vol9/pp159-168

Swindon education

See also: https://www.swindonheritageblueplaques.com

Discovering the River Ray Parkway

Discovering the River Ray Parkway

20th June 2018

Discovering the River Ray Parkway

Every once in a while, as Jess Robinson describes below, she and I go a-wandering round odd/random/interesting bits of Swindon. Some time ago now we went checking out some of the town’s roundabouts – more interesting than it sounds. Read about that EXPOTITION here.  And part two of that adventure here – in round and round we go again.  

We’ve also done the Richard Jefferies Old Town Trail. I’ll link to that at the bottom. This time though it was the River Ray Parkway trail we decided to explore.

I’ve always known that Swindon, and West Swindon is green. Very. But doing this walk demonstrated it even more.

So here we go: discovering the River Ray Parkway:’

Continuing our occasional series, “Jess and Angela wander interesting parts of Swindon”, we ventured out on a sunny day to discover what the River Ray Parkway was all about.

If you live or have wandered in the south-west/south-east parts of Swindon you may have come across the odd dark green metal signpost, some of them still contain actual signage – as in the image below. 

This one is at the Kingshill end of the canal towpath. It reads:

River Ray Parkway sign 1 - River Ray Parkway walk

Coate Water Country Park
Lydiard Country Park
Old Town Rail Path
Wroughton
Kingshill Canal

NB: The direction in which they point isn’t reliable. Many of them have been turned around by mischief makers.

They’re labelled,where they’re readable: River Ray Parkway.

stump of river ray parkway sign
stump of river ray parkway sign

The River Ray Parkway is a green walking and cycling route, introduced in 1991 as part of the Great Western Community Forest scheme, it ran for 8 miles from Coate Water to Moulden Hill.

It was expanded from the original effort to create the Swindon Old Town Rail Path, developed with the help of Sustrans, then a small Bristol group formed to create better walking and cycling routes.

Today the route is mostly maintained as National Cycle Network route 45, started by Sustrans with a National Lottery grant in 1995.

We started out at the Moulden Hill end, and wandered along the route of NCN45, looking for the first sign. The purpose built NCN signs are quite obvious in the landscape …

National Cycle Network 45 sign

National Cycle Network 45 sign
The sign shows a person and bicycle icon, with the letters “45” underneath.

The direction shown reads:
Swindon Station 3
Chiseldon 8
Avebury 18

But the green Parkway signs tend to blend into the trees so it took a while to find one.

After leaving the roads we walked through a long leafy corridor, spotting our first Parkway sign as we were almost at Shaw Forest Park (Shaw Tip on the River Ray Parkway map!).

The route from here follows the edge of the Shaw Forest Park (pop in for a wander across the hill), past the Swindon Lagoons which have signs describing the habitat readable through the fence.

Continuing south east, we catch up with a tributary of the actual River Ray, and follow it underneath the Great Western Way dual carriageway, around the giant Mannington Rec sports ground + park and into Bridgemead retail park.

River Ray Brochure (map side)
River Ray Brochure (map side)
Brochure copy scan courtesy of Swindon Local Studies,
Swindon Librar
y

For PDF of map go here: River Ray Parkway trail map

From the map, you will notice that the River Ray Parkway follows two routes from Wootton Bassett Road to Rivermead, we followed the eastern route.

The western route follows the western tributary of the River Ray, via Westlea Park and alongside Westlea Primary school. It follows the current NCN route 45, and the Western Flyer, a newer route created recently to provide a cycling-commuter route into the town centre.

(See also: The Western Flyer) 

We ended up this first half of the route with a cuppa at John Lewis, which is on the western part of the route.

On the embedded map you can see our route, follow the green markers from the north west corner (darker green marker), clicking on the markers will show images of the signs we found. The blue markers are the signs on the western route, as found by Jess the previous week.]

Kissing gate
Old kissing gate along the River Ray Parkway

The Richard Jefferies Old Town Trail

Richard Jefferies Old Town walk part one 

Richard Jefferies Old Town walk part two


King’s Wood Walk

King’s Wood Walk

28th May 2017

[jetpack_subscription_form]

King’s Farm Wood Walk

With the Switch-on to Swindon initiative kicking off this year I thought it would be good to get some perspectives on Swindon from some other people instead of only mine.

Read my Switch on to Swindon story here: https://swindonian.me/2017/04/11/my-switch-on-to-swindon-story/

I’ve met loads of people when business networking in my AA Editorial Services hat.  Some of them have become clients and/or friends. So I decided to ask them what their favourite things in and around Swindon are.

First up we’ve got Tim Perkins. Being a sucker for punishment Tim has not one but two businesses. I mean really? Why WOULD you?!

One of them is TMP planning – and you can find out more about that by clicking the hyperlink.

The other is Wild Goose Gear and that one concerns itself with all things outdoorsy! ‘We love outdoor exercise and will find any excuse to be out about exploring the countryside on foot, by bike or in the water. From walking the dog, to hiking, running, cycling and open water swimming there are many ways to enjoy the outdoors.’

Wild Goose Gear on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wildgoosegear/?fref=ts

Their newly formed blog:  https://wildgoosegear.wordpress.com

and their Ebay shop: http://stores.ebay.co.uk/wildgoosegear/

So it’s not surprising then that Tim has chosen to talk about the countryside around Swindon. TBH this blog is meant to be concerned with stuff INSIDE Swindon (that comes under SBC) but I’ll stretch the point. Wroughton is close enough for government work.  So now over to Tim:

‘One of the great things about Swindon is the fantastic countryside right on the door step of the town.  Unless you live nearby you may not know about Kings Farm Wood in Wroughton. Yet it’s a fine example of a walk that’s close to the town and easy to access.

Woodpeckers and Wildflowers on the edge of Wroughton in King’s Wood Walk

Signage Kings Wood Walk

Kings Farm Wood is the most accessible of a series of linked nature reserves. They include Clouts Wood, Markham Banks and the Diocese Meadows on the southern edge of Wroughton. They’e all managed by the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust and include contrasting landscapes of meadows, combes and woodland on slopes leading up towards the Marlborough Downs.

Here’s a brief description of the Kings Farm Wood walks which can also be extended to take in the other areas I mentioned.

  1. Start From the Ellendune Centre in Wroughton (by Tesco). There’s a large free car park here if you are driving. Walk out past the library and the War Memorial and turn left.

In a few yards you’ll reach traffic light where you go straight across (past the Co-op on your right). Keep straight on for a few hundred yards until you get to the end of this road. There you’ll see a street sign for Nursery Close pointing right. Follow this road for a few yards and you take a tarmacked footpath on your left between hedges.

pathway Kings Wood Walk

  1. At the end of this cross a road (Badgers Brook) and a small stream and go through the metal gate where you’ll see the information boards for Kings Farm Wood on your right.
  2. Now there are three waymarked routes shown on the board on the left. These are well signposted and easy to follow:

Yellow (0.6 miles) – This is out and back route on a good quality gravel track which is suitable for pushchairs and mobility scooter.

pathway Kings Wood Walk

Red (0.6 miles) – Again this is a short route on more undulating paths.

Blue (1 mile) – The longest route takes you along the gravel path to a metal gate into a field. If you have a dog, note that there may be cattle in this field so keep your dog on a lead.

Across the field you then turn left up a fairly steep slope to the top of the bank and back along a path with some fantastic views of Swindon through meadows and young planted woodland. Weather permitting you will see the distinctive white Nationwide HQ, Christchurch in Old Town and a glimpse of the top of the Murray John Tower Follow the waymarks and you will eventually come back down the hill to the start.

The view from Kings Wood Walk

These three walks are all short and the yellow one in particular is very accessible.

For the more adventurous the walks can easily be extended as there are a network of paths in this area. These link the four areas of Clouts Wood, Diocese Meadows and Markham Banks which can all be explored on a longer walk.  

To get to Clouts Wood simply go through the gate at the end of the gravel path straight across the field and then through the gate opposite. There are several options of paths to the left up the hill and when you get to the top you simply turn right to reach Clouts Wood. If in doubt climb until you reach the fence that marks the boundary with the Science Museum land (old RAF Wroughton) and turn right.

Here’s a link to the Wiltshire Wildlife  leaflet  of this whole area, where it’s located and how to get there Clouts Wood including Kings Farm Wood, Diocese Meadows and Markham Banks

[jetpack_subscription_form]

Subscribe to our news?

We send out a regular and frequent blog, the subject matter is usually Swindon or Swindon related, if you would like to receive the updates please leave your details below.