For around 40 years there has been talk of a Riverside Path through Canterbury, running from Chartham to Sturry, through the city centre. The River Stour is an extremely beautiful river, and one which is currently in better environmental shape than it has been for many years. However, the river is not enjoyed and appreciated as much as it might be. Lots of those who visit the city, and some of those who live here, do not really notice its many branches, partly because there are few paths which run along beside it.
Year after year plans for a Riverside path have been discussed – but till recently nothing was done. A few years ago the section of the path from Chartham to the Westgate Gardens was completed. Many members of SMACS will have enjoyed the great pleasure of walking or cycling through the fields to the west of the city. However, at present the path stops short at the Westgate Gardens and after that walkers and cyclists find themselves with no clear route through the city.
However, in March 2017 a crucial section of the Path was agreed by the Joint Transportation Board. The new plan allows the Path to continue across the road at the Westgate and down along the north bank of the river to the Millers Field. This is a crucial part of the Riverside Path. At the Westgate a clever use of paving and kerbing will allow pedestrians, wheelchair users and cyclists to cross from the Westgate Gardens to North Lane without causing too much delay for traffic going through the Westgate.
The crossing which is proposed is very similar to that which takes pedestrians across North Lane from Station Road West to the Millers Field and St Radigunds. At present crossing from the Westgate Gardens to North Lane is extremely hazardous, while the crossing from Station Road West to Miller’s Field works well.
The proposal for the new section of the path came from the city council and is strongly supported by the Friends of the Riverside. The aim of the Friends is to bring together residents’ groups, council officers and other interested parties to enhance the open spaces along the River Stour and to encourage people to use and enjoy the river as it flows from Chartham through Canterbury to Sturry. A representative of the Friends said,
Its great to have this crucial section of the Riverside Path in place. We hope that one day it will continue on to Sturry and that it will encourage more people to leave their cars at home and walk and cycle instead, which are both healthy and enjoyable. Most importantly the new Path will add to the pleasures of life in our beautiful city.
Jan Pahl, Chair of the Canterbury Society