Aston Rowant Parish Council’s Footpath and Amenities Group (FAAG) is a committee appointed by, and reporting to, the Parish Council. The group’s members include mix of parish councillors and parishioners chaired by Steven Sowerby and meets formally twice a year.
We liaise closely with the church, school and the Hillwerke Recreational Trust. The aim of the group is to improve the environment in which we live. We consult with farmers, land-owners and parishioners and take expert advice from Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) Rights of Way field officer for our area, The Chiltern Society and the Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment
We have upgraded path surfaces and replaced stiles with gates on many of the parish footpaths and bridleways with the help of OCC Countryside Services, land-owners, the Chiltern Society and Thame and Wheatley Ramblers. Grants have been obtained from the Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment (TOE), the Weston Foundation and Chilterns Conservation Board. With this support, along with donations from parishioners and funding from the parish council and Oxfordshire County Council much progress has been made.
We have recently opened a new permissive footpath from Kingston Blount to Crowell. The fenced all weather grass path is in the field alongside the hedge to the left of the B4009 on the way out of Kingston Blount. We thank land-owner Alan Hill for providing the parish council with a 30-year licence for use of the land and for a generous grant from TOE and funding from the Parish Council. The path now provides a safe direct link between the villages and opens up a network of paths for walkers to explore without walking on a busy road.
FAAG worked very closely with Chiltern Society on the specification for the path surface and Chiltern Society volunteers designed and erected the pinch points at either end. Without their help costs would have been much higher. It should be noted that horses are not allowed on the footpath because their hooves would damage the mesh under the grass surface and the pinch points are designed to stop them.
Over the last five years Fiveways has also been our other main area of attention. We manage a parcel of land for nature at the junction of the Church Lane bridleway in Aston Rowant with the Lower Icknield Way. It is an area steeped in history and we have installed an information board on site. Organising tree and shrub planting and propagating wildflowers together with maintenance are major activities. A log seat is positioned in a glade by the chalk stream and another positioned overlooking the junction of ways.
Also, tree and shrub planting has been undertaken along the B4009 and Stert Roads and the Lower Icknield Way.
FAAG and the church organise duck races and cream teas every February to coincide with the peak snowdrop flowering season. This is a major event for Fiveways and the church and is a popular event which attracts many families and children.
FAAG lead three parish walks a year jointly with Thames and Wheatley Ramblers and the Chiltern Society. Two of our members also lead short historical and nature walks for the School.