While Troopers Hill Local Nature Reserve and Troopers Hill Field are beautiful spaces their accessibility for those with mobility problems is limited. The steep slopes of the Hill will always limit access for those who are less able from Troopers Hill Road but access across Troopers Hill Field from Malvern Road or Summerhill Terrace avoids the climb up the Hill.
This part of the project was to improve access to Troopers Hill Local Nature Reserve across Troopers Hill Field. It included a new path across the muddiest part of the Field and widening and resurfacing of the existing track as well as building a proper turning circle at the end of the track.
We were also able to complete the installation of some waymarking to the paths through Troopers Hill Woods.
With funding in place we were hoping the work on Troopers Hill Field would be completed in the summer of 2019. Unfortunately that was not possible and the wet weather in Autumn 2019 delayed the work further. Work finally started in February 2020 with completion due by the end of March 2020 - but was delayed again due to the Coronavirus crisis, with the work being suspended for five weeks. There was further disruption after the restart with the works finally completed (apart from some minor items and final tidying up) on 4th June when the temporary fencing was removed.
While the task of getting the path surfaced and open had been prioritised in May, final reinstatement and further work around the turning circle was not completed until September 2020.
We have agreed with Bristol Parks that much of the grass on either side of the path and particularly between the path and the allotment fence will be allowed to grow long - as shown here.
Prior to the work starting, the 1980s red slide adjacent to the route of the path had to be removed due to rust making it structurally unsafe. We ran an appeal for funds to replace it, read more here.
The entrance to Troopers Hill Field from Malvern Rd displays a sign for wheelchair users advising them of the level of difficulty it would take to cross the Field to access the beautiful views from Troopers Hill. This sign was funded by the Friends of Troopers Hill Stepping Forward project in 2012. The Friends raised funding in 2006 for the installation of a wheelchair accessible path on Troopers Hill
The wide track, leading from Malvern Rd, into the Field, was just compacted stone dating back to at least the 1970s but was showing its age. We were contacted by one visitor in 2016 who told us the track was now too difficult for him push his wife along in her wheelchair.
At the end of the track park maintenance vehicles (including those regularly emptying the bins) need to turn, this was making this area particularly muddy.
The east side of Troopers Hill Field, beside the allotment fence is a favourite route for walkers to access Troopers Hill but it becomes very waterlogged and muddy in winter. An investigation by students before work started in 2020 proved that this was rainwater that was unable to penetracte the clay capping placed when the Field was part of Malvern Road Tip.
The wheelchair access path on Troopers Hill is also deteriorating. The resin surface is breaking up. Bristol City Council has done some filling of potholes but this is only a temporary solution. We were hoping to be able to fund some repairs to this path with contingency funding allowed in the budget for the path and track works, but there was not sufficient, we will work with Bristol Parks to find other ways of funding this.
For walkers there is an alternative approach to the Hill from Crews Hole via paths and steps through Troopers Hill Woods, but these were difficult to follow until waymarking was installed as part of this project (see above).
Detailed aims of this part of the project:
a) Resurface and widen the track across the Field so it is suitable for wheelchair use and for the size of vehicles used by Bristol Parks for grass cutting and emptying bins. - Completed
b) Form a proper turning area at the end of the track, so that vehicles can turn safely and will no longer create a muddy area at the entrance to the hill. - Completed
c) Install a new tarmac path on the east side of Troopers Hill Field connecting the new path to the children’s play area to the wheelchair accessible path to Troopers Hill. - Completed
d) Resurface the wheelchair access path on Troopers Hill - To be completed by Bristol Parks in 2021
e) Improve & install waymarking to paths through Troopers Hill Woods. - Completed
Details of the works undertaken on Troopers Hill Field are shown in red on the plan above (click to enlarge).
Protecting Nature - Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund
As part of this project the rotten fencing and gates have been replaced with black, metal estate fencing and gates - this work was carried out in April 2019. This is a long term solution that blends in well with landscape; the fencing matches that installed on the Greendown boundary in 2008.
New fencing has only been installed on those sections where scrub does not act as a natural barrier. The fencing is galvanised steel and was painted black on site after installation. The remaining sections of wooden fence along the road that were no longer required due to the scrub were removed in September 2019.
In the winter of 2019/20 further work was carried out by ParkWork to build new steps leading to the new kissing gates. At the entrance by the lower chimney, now that the old fence had been removed, ParkWork cut back some bramble to open up the entrance.
As part of the work Bristol City Council installed a new dog waste bin at one of the entrances to replace the old one that had been fixed to the old wooden fence.
Collapse of the old fence would have left the Local Nature Reserve open to access by motorbikes. This would have represented a danger to the people and dogs using the Hill and have a severe, negative impact on the site’s ecology.
The combination of the new fencing and the removal of the old fence where it was no longer required has also greatly improved the appearance of the site from Troopers Hill Road.
Surveying & Conserving Nature - Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund
A Management Plan for Troopers Hill was produced in 2007 and reviewed in 2012 without any major changes.
A review of the plan of the plan was due in 2017 but funding was not available so we are pleased that the funding for this project from the National Lottery Heritage Fund has allowed the review to be carried out.
The review considered the effectiveness of the management of the site over the past 10 years and the aims for the future.
As part of this review we are commissioning surveys to establish what species are present on the Hill and whether there have been any detectable changes over the last 10 years. This includes an Invertebrate Survey by David Gibbs (see below).
The revised plan can be seen on our Management Plan page. A further review of the plan will be completed once we have received the results of the surveys.
In advance of the plan being published we received advice on the priorities for work to be carried out in the winter of 2018/19. The grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund included an allowance for us to employ contractors to carry our some of this work over two winters. This is additional to the regular works carried out every winter by Bristol Parks and by Friends of Troopers Hill at our Conservation Work Parties. The work is being carried out by Green Mantle who are approved Bristol Parks contractors.
The additional works for winter 2018/19 were focused on three priority areas identified in drafting the new plan described here:
Works for winter 2019/20 started in December and included clearing regrowth in the areas cleared in 2018/19 and working further east clearing the gorse. Some areas where broom was spreading into the grassland and heathland were also cleared.
We were also able to use some surplus funds from this project, together with some of our own funds to clear the gorse regrowth in the first week of March 2021.
Conservation Work - Gorse removal Winters 2018/19 &2019/20
Invertebrate Survey by David Gibbs
Consultant Entomologist and Naturalist David Gibbs carried out surveys of the invertebrate surveys of Troopers Hill in 2000, 2006 & 2007, so we were especially pleased that he was able to carry out a further survey as part of this project.
Over four visits to Troopers Hill David recorded 321 species of invertebrates. This included 44 species of bee, 6 of which had not been included on our records for Troopers Hill before.
83 species of bee have now been recorded on Troopers Hill Local Nature Reserve out of aroundover 270 species of bee in Great Britain and Ireland.
Of the 321 species recorded this year, 83 were Hymenoptera (wasps, bees, and ants) - David notes that this is
"considerably better than found on most surveys highlighting the importance of Troopers Hill for bees wasps and ants".
30 'Key Species' were recorded, four of them of RDB (Red Data Book) quality, David states that
"9.3% is a relatively high proportion of scarce and rare species, but
entirely expected from this site and in line with previous surveys".
Improving Nature Knowledge - Funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund & Ninevah
While much has been done over the last 10 years to provide additional site interpretation and to host guided walks and events to highlight the importance of the site, there is always the need to do more.
The funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund of over £44,000 funded most of the work described above on the Local Nature Reserve, including the entirity of the Protecting Nature and Surveying Nature parts of the project.
A big thank you to everyone who has supported our funding bids including everyone who responded to the consultation in 2017 and those who wrote letters of support for our funding bids - Professor Jane Memmott of the University of Bristol; Janice Gardiner of Avon Wildlife Trust; Chris Watson, course leader in Geography at Bridgwater and Taunton College; Kerry McCarthy, MP for Bristol East; Fiona Lambert of Bristol Astronomical Society; Lee Morgan at East Bristol Intermediate Care Centre; Tim Browse, Headteacher Air Balloon Hill Primary School and our local councillors, Cllr Nicola Beech, Cllr Fabian Breckels, Cllr Asher Craig and Cllr Steve Pearce. Thank you also to everyone at Bristol Parks.
Friends of Troopers Hill knew that in order for this project to be successful we needed the support of local people. We also needed to be able to demonstrate that support to potential funders, so during 2017 we asked for the views of as many local residents as possible.
We produced a survey that could be completed online via this webpage and also distributed hard copies of the survey to local residents and users of the Hill & the Field. The survey was open for just over a month, with a closing date of 12th July 2017.
A total of 225 responses were received. The 71 paper questionnaires were copy-typed by
volunteers into the online system so the results could be seen as a single report.
Just over 67% of replies said people would visit more often if the work was carried
out to improve paths, the track and install a new path.
Nearly 89% of replies were in favour of replacing the rotting wooden boundary
fences and gates on Troopers Hill Rd with metal estate fencing as protection against
access by motorbikes.
The results of this survey gave Friends of Troopers Hill a clear mandate to go ahead
with grant applications to fund the Ways to Nature project and we are now progressing the application process. We are applying for a number of separate grants for different parts of the project.