I’m warning you now, there’s a bit of a whinge coming up.
Last year we altered some of the walking routes on the farm, partly due to a change in the environmental scheme we are in, and partly due to a field reorganisation. This has prompted responses ranging from disappointed to flat-out angry, from the people who had become used to using these access routes over the last decade or so. I have received many emails asking me to explain what we have done, as well as hearing some whispers going around the villages- I’m sure that most of them I don’t hear though. Eventually I wrote an article, with maps, to explain in detail what has happened.
So why am I annoyed? We provide over 9 miles of walking access on the farm, about 3 miles of which is Public Footpath. The rest, more than 6 miles, is opened up voluntarily by us, for which we receive no money and no real benefit. Perhaps wisely, none of the other farmers around these villages do the same; as far as I’m aware, there is not a single meter, let alone mile, of access given voluntarily on their farms. Yet I am the one who has to field angry emails, attend parish council meetings to explain myself, and tell irate walkers why they can’t go wherever they want. Someone even wrote a letter to the local council telling them that we should not be granted planning permission for our grainstore because David Walston has greatly reduced the “number of footpaths” available to the village.
It does make you wonder, is it really worth trying to do the right thing, or should we have an easy life and close off the whole farm? Anyway, here is the document I mentioned earlier, which explains the history of the farm’s paths, and how they have evolved over the years.