Chris Bloor joined the Forest of Avon Trust in April as Trust Director with responsibility for outdoor access. Here Chris reflects on his interests and some of the work that he will be leading for the charity:
“One of my main interests in working for the Forest of Avon Trust is to improve and promote the Community Forest Path (CFP) – the 45-mile route around the City of Bristol, designed by Rennie Dickins and created by the Forest of Avon to link areas of the Community Forest and also lead people out of the city into the countryside.
“I have been looking after the path for four years, since the ending of the Forest of Avon Partnership. I think of myself as taking care of the forest in its original sense, which has little to do with trees and woodlands. The forest was the place to get out, from the Latin foras! (to the gate! or out!), the answer the exasperated Roman might give when their partner asked Quo vadis? (Where are you going dear?) I agree with internationally renowned, conceptual artist Richard Long (who lives in Failand) when he says, ‘A walk expresses space and freedom’, (except I would say run).
“I instituted the Green Man Challenge to promote the Community Forest Path and reinvented the term Woodwose to describe those who complete the challenge inside 24 hours. There are currently 266 Woodwoses entered in the Forestal Book of the Honourable Order of Woodwoses. The number of people completing the challenge has increased considerably now that Ultrarunning Ltd has taken it up as an ultramarathon race.
“I have written two books of walks designed to carry out the aim of the Community Forest Path (CFP) to lead people out of the city into the countryside. These routes circle off sections of the CFP and are designed to visit community centres such as pubs and cafes and to link woods, rivers and nature reserves to the CFP. They are beginning to look a little dated as pubs close, bus routes change and green spaces are built on.
“As a Director of the Trust I want to help the charity continue to grow and in initially will focus on: improving signage and waymarking along the Community Forest Path; finding ways of making my routes freely available and building links with the North Bristol Health Trust.”