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TOP 10 RURAL FOOTPATHS FACE CLOSURE

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Dozens of ancient footpaths are under threat from local authorities, developers and landowners, say the Ramblers' A...
Dozens of ancient footpaths are under threat from local authorities, developers and landowners, say the Ramblers' Association, reported The Sunday Telegraph (p12).

Included in the association's 'Top 10' of rural routes at risk are paths near Corfe Castle in Dorset, Hadrian's Wall in Northumberland, and the Ridgeway in Oxfordshire. One of the routes causing 'serious concern' is a popular mile-long path between Compton Beauchamp and Woolstone, close to Oxford, and the Ridgeway. Campaigners are fighting

an attempt to close the path by the landowner, who claims it does not exist because it is not on the county council's register of public rights of way.

Other historic paths in the 'Top 10' include: A Roman bridleway from Corfe Castle to Poole Harbour, facing diversion; the last ancient route between the Somerset villages of Chantry and Mells which is to be closed after a successful application by the Whatley quarry

company; a path on the Isle of Wight re-routed along a 'steep, waterlogged and treacherous' course; a half-mile stretch of Icknield Way in Suffolk; in Blanchland, Northumberland, a landowner has proposed diverting part of the Carriers Way network because he claims walkers disturb grouse.

Other routes under serious threat are a heritage path at Beaumont cum Moze, Essex, which faces a diversion order, and seven footpaths used by 19th-century Lancashire millworkers.

However, the medieval Monks Path at Evesham Abbey, Worcestershire, has been reprieved after campaigners forced developers to change their plans.

Kate Ashbrook, of the Ramblers' Association, said 'weak and insensitive' local authorities were 'aiding and abetting the destruction of a priceless part of our heritage enjoyed by

thousands of walkers' and called for action.

A spokesman for the Country Landowners' Association said: 'History is a wonderful thing but we should be trying to achieve a network of pathways which will serve the needs of people in the 21st century'.

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