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Obstructing Footpaths

Ten ways of discouraging walkers from using footpaths without actually breaking the law


Put cattle feed in the corner of the field where the stile is. The cows will quickly turn that area into a quagmire. Here's an illustration - the path comes in by the gate.

20011216c muckypath.jpg (144305 bytes)


Flood the tracks at the back of the farm with slurry. Choose ones that you only use when wearing wellies or driving a tractor.


If there are two diverging paths, mark one prominently and leave the other untended.


Use multiple methods of securing a gate. What is the point of using string when there is a proper bolt? This is a particularly unpleasant trick on bridleways when there are special bolts that can be released on horseback. Here is an example of a pointless chain on a stile.


Leave a headland but make sure that the soil underneath is so unstable that you are guaranteed a yield of three broken ankles each year. For added amusement, train brambles across it.


Install waymarks saying "Landowners welcome caring walkers". It might not actually obstruct the path but it certainly gets up my nose, with its implication that it's walkers, not farmers, who cause footpath problems.

20020217a landowners.jpg (149175 bytes)


Have a collection of small, yappie dogs running loose around the farm buildings. I call these Three Point Dogs; I get this urge to practice drop kicking with them.


Alternatively, keep two large dogs tethered either side of the footpath. When they get as close as they can together there is just enough room for a walker to pass through. The dogs are clearly rabid; two parts sheepdog, one part wolf and one part lunatic.


Install large polite signs requesting ramblers to keep to the path and then places waymarks at five foot intervals. This brings out feelings of claustrophobia in walkers.


Subtle use of nettles. Here is proof that there is not a beneficent God; why is it that the only time when it is fit to wear shorts in this country coincides with the nettles being out??


 Here's a skillful one: looked how precisely this tree has been placed to allow just the minimum of space for a walker to get through. Even better approaching from the other direction you can't see the stile at all


My Favourite Estate

If you want to see the optimum combination of all these features, visit one Staffordshire estate. The owner died recently but he used to be a household name or at least his initials are (think of earth-moving equipment)
  a boundary fence made of metal rather than natural materials
  the most amazing stiles. Have you ever been to Quasar? They are a bit like that; you open a gate, climb over a step to enter a metal cage, squeeze around the narrowest of kissing gates, and  open the gate at the far end and clamber out. This is a less convoluted version
I must stress that none of this contravenes the letter of the footpath legislation. However, in my view, very little of it meets the spirit either. The main effect is to spoil ones enjoyment of some lovely countryside and one can only speculate about the motives for this. My view is to keep walking the paths; e-mail if you want to join the cause and are looking for routes.


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