Gloucestershire Stone Stiles Project
For centuries stone stiles have allowed pedestrian access across the countryside and as such indicated ancient pathways which predate land enclosure. Now they are threatened and rapidly disappearing. They understandably are seen by some as impeding walkers rather than protecting ancient rights of way. Their whereabouts are important historical landmarks, and can point to where farmsteads, barns, and villages, long since vanished, existed.
Before they are lost Peter Wilson, an active member and volunteer of CPRE Gloucestershire, with the support of Cotteswold Naturalists Field Club (CNFC), is seeking to create a record of all surviving Gloucestershire stiles. What he would welcome is that members, when out walking, take photos of stone stiles, record their locations, and send him the photos and location details.
There are three main types of stile; The Step, The Slit, and the Slab. It is the latter which is most endangered because for the less fit walker they are not easy to clamber over. Below are two local examples of how they are being discarded. In the first the slab remains to be overgrown and eventually lost as a way around it has been made and replaced with a less durable gate. In the second the slab has been removed and dumped.
Below are examples of Slit and Step stiles
Photographs courtesy of Ann Dickinson, Barry Parsons and Maureen Arthur
You may come across some or all of these types of stone stiles in and around Brimscombe & Thrupp.
So if you are out walking and you spot a stone stile, or if you know of an existing stile, please photograph it, if possible from both sides. Download a Stile Recording Form by going to the CPRE website, https://www.cpreglos.org.uk/creating-a-record-of-gloucestershire-stone-stiles/ Please give as much information as possible before emailing the form to: email@example.com. 'Duplicate' notifications are fine as you may have been able to provide more information on the location and history of the stile and ...you may take a better picture. As well as recording the type of stile and its OS location, we are seeking information on the history, geology and landscape setting relating to each stile. If you have a particular interest in any of these areas please contact Peter.
Due to the tremendous response to the Project the second phase is being started earlier than expected. We now have a new volunteer who has joined the team. He has begun recording all the information from our contributors onto an analysed spread sheet. This is a mammoth task which we are seeking volunteers to help.
The final phase of the Project is the production of an interactive App from all the information received. The App will show the location of the stiles and will encourage more people to explore our wonderful county adding to their enjoyment of country walks. It will also help wheelchair and scooter users and families with children in buggies to plan their walks.
There are many stiles out there just waiting to be discovered but please do remember the Countryside Code – Respect other people, Protect the natural environment, Follow advice and local signs and Obey social distancing regulations.
All forms with photos should be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org