With the right to roam and access to the countryside comes responsibility. Responsibility by the public and responsibility by the land owners. Criminal damage to property, even if blocked off contrary to the responsibilities of land owners can never be right and whoever is responsible at Lunanhead is seriously misguided. The landowner in trying to fortify the route is also misguided.
The walkers should simply take the case up with the local Access Officer at Angus Council.
Paul Clark, Countryside Access Officer – firstname.lastname@example.org
The landowner should also go through Angus Council and have the land use changed, perhaps to market garden status or similar, if they wish to prevent walkers coming through what is at the moment simply grassland.
Near to the authorised Forfar footpath network, at the village of Lunanhead, near Forfar runs a dismantled railway line that in days past made its way into Forfar.
Near Pitscandly, a section of the railway meets the road network at a point called Bowmans Crossing. Lunanhead residents will know the route well, as a good circular walking route starting at the railway bridge at the foot of Well Road, up onto the railway line and out at Bowmans Crossing, hang a left and left again into Myreside returning into the village at the North side near the biggest concrete block works the country Laird Brothers of Forfar.
The railway section has been in use over the years by an engineering services company, Combe Services, the most recent use has been more agricultural in nature and certainly over the last 20 years at least, the route has been accessible to local walkers, with an exit around a tree by the sturdy metal gate at the road end of the route. The exit and access has now been locked down and the gate at the road end wrapped in barbed wire.
Taking the opportunity of a break in the terrible weather in January, a stroll into the fresh air and a walk around the area of Lunanhead was in order. Following the Forfar path network, our way became blocked by flooding, so walking along the railway cutting for a short period, we came across a locked fenced area with a sign announcing the area was ‘Private’ and entry was at your own risk. The only thing being, there was no way to access the route any further, as the access is fenced and locked off. A diversion back down alongside the railway line and very soon the fencing is down to ground level and its an easy stroll back up onto the line allowing access back onto the grass path that is the old railway line.
Challenged by two ladies walking dogs, they questioned as to how we got in, and how we thought we would get out, we indicated we were only walking, and intended no damage. At the end of the route the exit around a tree was being fenced back in having been broken down. Two men, we assumed to be the owners again challenged us, refusing to open up the exit, I climbed the gate and then the gate was opened to let my wife exit, when she was unwilling to climb the barbed wired gate. Expressing their rights to protect their property, we’re thinking, what, from two fellow villagers who have lived here for over 30 years, simply walking a route that has been a through walk for many years. Indicating the right to roam in Scotland we walked on.
Whoever has caused damage to the property securing the route is acting completely outwith the spirit of the right to roam code, and it is behaviour like this that get rights like this reversed. While it may well anger someone or inconvenience you, damaging property is just not the way to go about things.
I will be inviting the local access officer to look into this area and hopefully report back on their response at a later date.