In recent months Weston under Penyard Parish Council has made huge strides with the Footpaths Improvement Plan. The accessibility to our beautiful parish countryside has already been greatly improved by the replacement of 18 difficult stiles with new pedestrian gates.
The footpaths where “miles without stiles” have been created so far are shown in yellow on the attached map. On some of these routes there are still some isolated stiles, and we will continue to work on improving the accessibility of these and other paths over the coming months. The introduction of gates for walkers with dogs is a great benefit. If a stile cannot be replaced, then the addition of a dog gate will be considered. To help improve existing stiles and to install dog gates the Parish Council is asking for help from anyone who has carpentry skills and a little time. If you would like to assist in this way then please email the Parish Clerk at firstname.lastname@example.org (work should not be undertaken without the approval of the PC).
Farmers and other landowners throughout the parish have provided tremendous support to the Footpaths Improvement Plan by accepting the gates and by undertaking the installation themselves in most cases. This improved access being provided to the countryside brings increased responsibilities for walkers, and these are all described in the Countryside Code: advice for countryside visitors. Public Rights of Way is a clear definition, but it only refers to a narrow footpath as shown on OS maps and defined by waymarkers on the ground. Where a right of way passes through a field, walkers must stay on the path, even if it is muddy, and never trespass onto the fields, which are private land and normally being cultivated for food or being used for carefully managed livestock. Your actions can affect other people’s lives and livelihoods. The Parish Council is working with landowners to make the line of the footpaths as visible as possible. Please let the Parish Council know if a footpath is not clearly defined.
For walkers, dogs are certainly a man’s best friend, but not for everyone. To emphasise your responsibilities as a dog-walker the Countryside Code clearly states that you should make sure that the dog does not stray from the path where you have right of access. In most cases that may mean keeping your dog on a lead, especially in the vicinity of livestock. The Parish Council is installing more dog poo bins in some locations, but wherever your dog poos, please bag it and bin it – any public waste bin will do – or take it home. This makes walking on our footpaths more enjoyable for everyone.
Do enjoy the new freedom to walk in your parish. Please report any defects to the Parish Clerk and/or to Balfour Beatty at report an issue. The latest 2021 version of the Country Code can be found at: country code.