Walking Guisborough

I’ve been out and about recently, checking pedestrian and cycle routes in the town. It tied in with my son being accepted into Laurence Jackson school and me wishing to check whether or not, on fine days, the school could be reached safely by bike.

Although I was checking cycle routes my main aim was to gain a better understanding of how well the many paths in Guisborough serve the community. I found a miserable effort. If ever I saw a clear picture of where the fifteen-million-pound grant should have been spent, then this is it.

I want to digress here to mention the fifteen to twenty million that Guisborough has recently been granted. When your councillors are celebrating this windfall it is worth remembering that this money is a pitiful amount when compared to how much central government spending has been cut over the last decade. Of course your councillors should be up in arms about this and fighting on a united front to reverse the situation. Unfortunately they can’t because they are representing parties that have done or will do the same. The Lib Dems, for example, were in government when the majority of these cuts were made and would probably follow the same course of action again given half a chance. Labour aren’t exactly making reassuring noises on reversing cuts and Tory Councillors are not in a position to complain too loudly because ideology wise they agree with the cuts.

Back to routes to get around Guisborough. I’ve only covered a small area so far but intend to carry on my research. I started out at the park end (Dorset Road) and made my way along the embankment (old railway line).

The Embankment (Walkway)

The first thing I saw is the entrance to the route from Hereford Road is extremely muddy and often waterlogged. The council need to sort this. Generous helpings of rain are hardly rare in Guisborough. They should plan infrastructure accordingly.

The stretch between the park and Enfield Chase is in very poor condition and needs tarmacking. It needs more than that but for the sake of this article I’ll just say it needs serious attention.

Where Enfield Chase dissects the route, walkers and cyclists should have priority. Road narrowing by itself to calm traffic is a wasted opportunity. Slowing and sometimes stopping cars in both directions to let people cross would have been a far better method of traffic calming. Why did the council not do that at the time?

The embankment is heavily used by dog walkers which is good of course. However, the full potential is wasted. Such a beautiful route should become part of the transport infrastructure of the town. There is so much wrong with it though the most noticeable being that in order to join it any further along than Enfield Chase you need to be able to negotiate steps, and steep ones at that. A wheelchair is a no no. Same with a pushchair unless it has been modified by the daleks to be able to go up steps. In fact until you get to Butt Lane the only way to join or leave the embankment is via steps. At the Rugby ground there is a popular path that links to Rectory Lane with the problem that if you want to reach it from the embankment you have to go down poor quality, extremely steep steps. If you are approaching the embankment from the lower path with a bike you will probably look at the climb and decide not to bother.

I failed to mention there is a path from the embankment to Sainsbury’s. The trouble is that this section is a mess too. When they built Sainsbury’s it could have been made into an excellent route as a condition of planning permission.

It is the lack of joined up thinking that wastes so much potential within the town. We, working together, can change that.

Next time I will talk about other key areas within the town that need serious attention in terms of other neglected needs in the town. The important thing to remember is that Guisborough is lucky as it has so much. It needs imagination and commitment to improve it and make it the best it can be.

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