We are lucky to have a good network of field paths and public footpaths around Milverton and in the adjoining parishes. In enjoying many extended walks I have, inevitably, come across one or two recalcitrant local land-owners who do their best to hinder the legal passage of pedestrians across their property. I have encountered actions such as padlocking gates to close illegally, designated footpaths or fencing off stiles and even blocking those metal gates which revolve just ninety degrees and remain permanently stock-proof when used. I have witnessed the placing of cattle foddering stations across footpaths or just next to a stile to ensure that the path becomes churned up with deep mud and difficult of passage.
Paths have been covered over with crops, bridges over streams removed and notices of routes cast down. The use of barbed wire at the sides of a stile, or either side a padlocked gate, has also been observed. Injuries caused by these aggressive actions endangering the safety of the walking public can, of course, be taken to Law for compensatory claims or prosecution.
Should you come across any of these obstructions there is an easy way to report them to the local footpath officers. Call up online the site dedicated to Public Rights of Way.
The majority of our local landowners are good at maintaining public access across their property. Inevitably there is a small minority who are determined to make life difficult for others and try to deprive them of their ancient right to walk the countryside for health and leisure. So, if you discover a problem on a walk don’t leave it to someone else to sort out. Furthermore, if you are at any time intimidated either verbally of physically by a landowner when using a public footpath or a field path this is a matter for the police. Report it to them. Let’s keep our local countryside open for all to enjoy.