Catha's Seat

Sunday, 26 May 2013

A Big Week - Local Publicity, Site Meeting and One Week before opening!!

Last week was an exciting one!

Many thanks to the people at who kindly published an article to promote the cycle route, opening event and our seat project. Check out the article here

Dad and I also met the team from ARC on the 24th for a design "look see" on site. The weather was bitterly cold for May (at an arctic 7 degrees!!) with driving rain, so we lost no time in drawing conclusions to finalise the design concept.

Seat site in the Sun - now with a fantastic Ragstone surface, many thanks to EOS contractors.
Dad had to return the next day to capture some sunny pictures of the freshly surfaced site. Many thanks to EOS Contractors for creating a fantastic base for the seat to rest on.

Looking along the Cycle Path with new Ragstone surface
With one week to go before the opening event for this new link of the cycle route, we met the contractors from PP Landscapes knuckling down to cross the finish line on schedule, after some challenging weather conditions.

Some of the team from PP Landscapes working on the link at Pope Street
We hope to see as many of you as possible on the 31st May - when the new link will be officially opened - on what will be a momentous day for cycling in Kent.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Catha's Seat: Progress and Design Update May 2013

In the last progress report in February we left the story with the generous resurfacing contractors poised to clear a space in the shrubbery for Catha's Seat. With a week to go before the nesting bird regulations came into force on March 1st it couldn't have been better timing and I am pleased to report that the area is now prepared. Many thanks to EOS for their quick work here and Colin at KCC for supporting the action.

Area cleared for Catha's Seat. Looking out towards the Stour Valley and Chilham Castle.

Since then we have been working on the brief and design concepts. This involved plenty of cups of tea, google image research on other cycle route seat designs, and a fair few visits to site.

See below for the Design Brief and rough outlines of the current design concept. 

The next stage in the process is to finalise the design with ARC and produce nicer marketing drawings of the seat in situ. These will be used in letters to Councillors and local Stakeholders to raise further support in preparation for installation.

Catha's Seat Design Brief

  • Main objective is to provide a destination for all to view the Stour Valley and see Chilham Castle in the distance. Whilst there to rest and maybe picnic
  • We should accommodate a family on bikes, walkers, couples and wheelchair users
  • Our users may come from and return to London by train, Canterbury (7 miles), Ashford (9 miles), Wye (5 miles), Chilham (2 miles) and Chartham (4 miles)
  • The final design should make reference to Sheila's seat in light of Mum and Sheila's work together
  • Needs to have facilities to have picnics - i.e. side tables
  • No tables or restrictions in front of the seat to impede you from the view
  • Define the space behind the seats such that it is obvious where the bikes go

Design Concept:

The design has been based on two smaller versions of Sheila's design each able to comfortably accommodate two adults or a couple and child. As the Seat is planned as a destination we felt it was important to have the two separate features so there is space if one of the seats is already taken. 

We hope that this set up, angled slightly inwards, would allow users of the two benches to interact and start a conversation.
Plan view of Catha's Seat Area
As in Sheila's design the backs of the seats incorporate slots between the timbers where users can park / stand their bikes.

The area has been designed into a sweeping curve, marked out by gravel boards. This helps guide the user to bring their bike around the back and also creates a more pleasant interface with the cycle path.

Large armrests have been designed in such that users can rest their picnics and drinks on the side rather than having a table in front that would impede you from being immersed in the landscape.

Rough 3D Model of Catha's Seat Area

The Inaugural Mayday Weekend Wyecycle

Once again an apology for the gap since the last post - progress in this area slowed slightly as I started a new job. Nonetheless, this weekend saw the inauguration of the Annual Mayday Weekend Wyecycle - so named as it takes place on the Saturday of the Mayday weekend as the Monday itself is religiously reserved for the Five Church Walk.

Supporters of Catha's Seat joined us for the 40km ride to Canterbury and back along NCN Route 18 (including the new section) taking in the views at the seat location, stopping for  lunch in the wonderfully quaint surroundings of Chilham and partaking of a celebratory drink in the Bishop's Finger; the closest pub to the terminal of the cycle route in Canterbury.

The team braved a brisk morning shower to be rewarded with glorious sunshine on the return leg. I am pleased to say that all cyclists tested clean for EPO and most other performance enhancing substances (unless you count caffeine)!

I'll let the photos do the talking and we hope that you can join us for next year's event on 3rd May 2014.

Wyecycle 2013 team line up at Keegan Towers pre ride - left to right: Me, Eliza, Dad, Kit, Dani, Hil Bob, Sheila, Uncle Mark and Alex.
Over the hill just past Eggarton Lane. Surfacing works still in progress here.

Sheila is a fountain of knowledge about the area and told us the story of Juliberrie Down (upon which we are standing in this photo). According to legend this mound is the grave of Quintus Laberius Durus known as Julius Laberius or "Juliberrie" who was a Roman Tribune who died during Ceasar's second recce to Britain. The archaeologists say however, that this is in fact a Neolithic, New Stone Age, Burial Ground or Longbarrow.

Smooth riding along a freshly surfaced part of the route between East Stour Farm and Catha's Seat


No seat yet but this is where it is planned to be - the team crouch as though they were sitting on Catha's Seats

Fully engaged - the Crichton Family (Sheila's) Seat loaded to capacity. This installation provides a lot of the design inspiration for Catha's seat

9 bikes fill the dedicated cycle slots on Sheila's Family Seat
View from Sheila's Family Seat