Diverted path on The Severn Way
Q. Recently a landowner installed gates across his 30 feet wide entrance, one set pedestrian, one vehicular and one a kissing gate as a footpath went through the previous open way.
The previous line of the foot path was on the right of the entrance adjacent to his property, it has now been diverted to the left hand side.
He has purchased additional land inside his entrance and diverted the footpath at the same time blocking the original, this extends for approx 50 mtres.
As this foot path is part of the Severn Way (where the footpath leaves the village of Oldbury on Severn in a southerly direction) and is now much less attractive I made enquiries to my local council P.R.O.W. department.
They thanked me for my enquiry, I heard nothing from them and the footpath continued to be blocked.
I contacted them again after 3 months and was informed they were having problems with the landowner which they were hoping to resolve.
I am disappointed in their response and apparent lack of action, I do not know who to turn to next to hasten a resolution of this problem.
Roger Smith, Bristol
A. Today tried to walk the path from Tewkesbury but at Walham the path is blocked, it looks intentionally. Low level barbed wire is stretched across the path and there are felled trees. We returned to Sandhurst lane and attempted to return to the Severn path by taking the next right lane, which showed as rights of way on the OS map. We were immediately stopped by a driver in a pick up who politely told us the path was closed and we should not continue into the local community. It was intimidating and clear we were not welcome. We returned to Sandhurst lane and walked into Gloucester missing about a mile or two of the path which we are walking in it’s entirety over a year. This was Certainly a different “welcome” to a city.
David Hunt, Bournemouth
A. I had a bad experience today around Walham where the landowner seems to have done a lot to frustrate all the footpath passing through his/her land.
The route up the East bank of the Severn is halted by a broken bridge (unfortunately someone had removed the sign so I braved the bridge and got across only to find the path was so overgrown with nettles and brambles that I could barely get through. I managed the entire length of the closed path before it completely petered out into brambles and I had to turn back.
Then I tried an alternative route inland a bit. This also had been blocked deliberately, then on going around to the next path to the river, this had been fenced and a person in the caravan nearby told me the paths had been closed "for years" (they were all still showing on the OS app).
I tried twice more to reach the river by routes on OS, but although I got to the river, the path heading north was so overgrown there was no way through, or there were sawn off branches from trees in the way, or a metal gate.
By this time I'd spent 2 hours of what was meant to be a walk from Gloucester to Tewkesbury constantly meeting obstacles and retracing my steps. It seems a shame that something is clearly going on here and that it's not being tackled.
I imagine bank erosion is a big issue there, but the bigger issue seems to be deliberate blocking and low maintenance of the paths.
I had to abandon my walk and look for a bus. Very frustrating experience.
Tim S, Ruislip, Uk
A. I have also seen access paths to the Severn Way blocked and the path is in such a bad state it is now unusable. Looks like Severn Side Farm have tried to put the public off by erecting 'private land' signs at Walham Lane in Gloucester and also along the river where a footbridge crosses the river Twyver. I've sent a message to Glos. council but nothing has been doe so far. It's such a nice area as it's a green space close to town so it's a pity that these landowners are being allowed to get away with land grabbing.
John Burrell, Gloucester
A. Some years ago, as footpath secretary for South Derbyshire Ramblers, I was called upon to do a site assessment with a local land agent in a similar situation. I advised the agent, that what he had done would only add another pathway, which over time could become a legal right of way also.
John Swan, Derby
A. Footpath diversions can take many years to take effect and can be quite expensive for the landowner. In this case, it sounds like the landowner has tried to short-circuit the system, and may even think that he's done the right thing by providing new stiles and an alternative route.
Whether or not what he's done is reasonable is irrelevant as far as rights of way legislation is concerned, even though its only 50 metres and there's a perfectly serviceable alternative route.
The only people with the power to enforce a right of way is the local authority, and you have already spoken to them and, apparently, nothing much is happening.
The council officers will always try to be seen to be taking a reasonable approach when dealing with landowners, and this strategy does take some time.
You could try involving your local branch of the Ramblers if you want additional pressure applied to the council. They might know about it already.
You could also talk to the local councillor who will be able to apply pressure and also keep you informed about any developments.
Mike Knipe, Crook