One of the most widely appreciated and important characteristics of Whitchurch is the well-established network of interconnecting footpaths, roads, streets and alleyways throughout the parish (see map).
They vary greatly in appearance depending on their age, use and location. Some of these footpaths are ancient and rural in character, unpaved and running along the edges of fields or through wooded areas, such as Chatter Alley and the footpath extension to Lynch Hill through the woods below Lynch Hill Park (A). A pathway running north through the town and up through the woodland scenery of Bere Hill woods (B) runs between the lines of old burgage field strips, an historical vestige of the town’s early origins (see also Section 2). Many of these ways are short cuts (C) across the web of roads within the town, and they encourage people to move safely on foot or sometimes by bicycle. They allow pedestrians to move easily across the town, often avoiding the heavily trafficked main roads. This helps to reduce traffic and may also contribute to the town’s low crime rate, by encouraging a high ‘people presence’ on our streets.
The traditional pathways that join up the main strands of the Whitchurch road web are vital links and well-used, although some are not accessible to pushchair users. The footpath linking London Street, Town Mill and the recreation ground (D) provides country-like walks that are enjoyed by children on their way to the primary and secondary schools.
In addition to ‘rights of way’ registered on footpaths and roads in the parish countryside, there are ‘bridleways’ and ‘byways open to all traffic’. This network of ‘rights of way’ also extends into the town and links with the comprehensive town network of roads and footpaths.
This network in the town also links to footpaths and cycleways within the parish and beyond, so that walkers can reach the surrounding countryside very quickly. In addition to an active Ramblers group, many people — residents and visitors — walk the local footpaths for pleasure throughout the week and at weekends.