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Blocked right of way.

Community Veteran
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Registered: 02-08-2007

Blocked right of way.

Whilst walking along a path that runs below Blencathra but above Doddick farm I noted that the farmer has blocked off a right of way with no trespassing signs and barbed wire.
The OS Map clearly shows a track running along this section.
I Have checked on the internet and there are a few comments about this which say the Farmer is disputing it's a right of way.
I Think this path has been blocked for a few years and there is an alternative (Longer) route.
Does anyone know who I am best advised to contact to find out the current situation ? It's quite possible the Farmer is legally in his rights to do this but the counter argument is that it has been used as a right of way for at least 50 years.
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Community Veteran
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Re: Blocked right of way.

Report to the Ramblers(Association) http://e-activist.com/ea-action/action?ea.client.id=117&ea.campaign.id=11891
Also the local County Council.
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Community Veteran
Posts: 7,912
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Registered: 02-08-2007

Re: Blocked right of way.

Many thanks for that link, will do as you suggest.
Community Veteran
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Registered: 30-08-2007

Re: Blocked right of way.

I vaguely recall that if a landowner can prove a footpath has gone unused for a period of time, and times I've heard vary between 5 and 20 years the landowner can farm over or otherwise deny access. To whom the onus of proof falls I couldn't say.
Oldjim as a dedicated rambler when he sees this thread may well be able to add some useful information.
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Community Veteran
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Registered: 24-09-2008

Re: Blocked right of way.

Each local Council (not necessary County level) has a PROW (Public right of way) officer. Their role is to sort out issues with 'rights of way'.
There is a tendency since 2000, where livestock are concerned (cattle attacking dogs, or dogs bothering sheep) to re-route rights of way.
We used to have a public right of way running through our yard, it had been a right of way since Roman times and more recently as a pack-horse trail (17th c), we legally had the footpath re-routed, took about 10 years for OS to catch up.

you could try http://www.cumbria.gov.uk/roads-transport/public-transport-road-safety/countryside-access/Rights_of_...
Community Veteran
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Registered: 12-08-2007

Re: Blocked right of way.

We had an issue like this about 2 months ago.  Part of the Essex Way had been blocked under a bridge.  A call to County Hall solved the problem within days.
Community Veteran
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Re: Blocked right of way.

I Got the following reply from the National Trust,
Thanks for your inquiry.
When the path was first blocked off we received an application to record it as a public footpath based on evidence that people had walked along it for 20+ years.  We looked at the evidence and concluded that there was sufficient evidence to add the path to the definitive map.  We made a modification order to this effect back in 2007.  Unsurprisingly, we received an objection to the modification order from the landowner of the field.  He claimed that the path was only ever used with his permission and was closed on a regular basis.  He also submitted a list of names of people who would confirm this.
The next stage would normally be to submit the matter to the Secretary of State for determination.  However, as the whole question revolves around whether walkers used it all year round, or whether, as the landowner says, the gates were locked for periods of time each year and he gave people specific permission - the only way this will really be resolved would be through a local public inquiry.
The purpose of a public inquiry is so that the appointed Inspector can listen to the evidence of the landowner and the user witnesses.  He will wish to hear from the landowner about the steps he has taken to challenge people and so on.  Equally, he will want to hear from those people who have used the footpath fairly regularly over the relevant period.  It will be this evidence that leads the Inspector to determine whether or not a public footpath exists.
Unfortunately, when we wrote to the people who claimed to have used the path, very few said that they were willing to attend an inquiry.  And without walkers turning up, there would be little point having the inquiry in the first place.  So it's been on our back burner ever since.
If you have any evidence about your usage over the past four decades it would be useful - but again, it would probably only help if we have an inquiry.
Meanwhile - as you say, there is an alternative to the disputed route.
I hope this helps clarify the situation a little - but if you have any queries, please get in touch again.

One sentence in this letter refers to, 'Evidence of usage over the past four decades'....  not sure how you could produce such evidence unless a group of people walked that path every day over the period of a year. I Suspect the majority using that path were visitors to the area as it's not a path the locals would use on a regular basis as it leads to no specific place other than a track up a popular fell side.
It would certainly be interesting to hear from Oldjim on this.
Community Veteran
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Registered: 12-08-2007

Re: Blocked right of way.

It seems to give landowners carte blanche to do anything they want.  If the path is now blocked this plays into the landowners hands.
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Re: Blocked right of way.

I am not an expert on Rights of Way but in cases like this where there is a clear conflict of evidence it needs to be looked at very carefully as, should a public enquiry find in favour of the land owner he can claim costs and expenses from the claimant.
The best bet in this case is to either wait for Ramblers HQ to pass it on the the local Footpath Officer or you could approach the local group yourself to discuss the options.
However looking at the OS Map it shows it as a path not a Right of Way
Checking with the Cumbria Definitive Map http://hims.cumbria.gov.uk/wip3_no_login/map.aspx?cg=prow it also shows it as a path not a Right of Way
As such it comes under the category of "Lost Ways" and given the changes in timing in relation to claiming them and the procedures needed to claim them you would need to talk to the local Footpath Officer of the Ramblers.
This appears to be their local website and it gives an email contact http://www.ralakedistrict.talktalk.net/
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Registered: 07-04-2007

Re: Blocked right of way.

Been many years since I last did Blencatha and I normally did it via Sharp Edge and the route for this started to the right of Doddick Farm.  Just had a look at Bob Allen book and none of his routes are near Doddicks Farm. Any one got a copy of Wainwright?
Community Veteran
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Registered: 02-08-2007

Re: Blocked right of way.

Yes I Have a copy, the Northern Fells, Book 5, Blencathra 8.. 
Quite interesting the track in the book clearly shows this blocked path as the route, the current alternative path is not shown !
Of course this may not prove much as the farmer could still claim he closed it on certain days.