It is a lovely walk from Hill Bridge, Peter Tavy, on Dartmoor up through fields known as Coffins, to the road near Baggator. But in May 2014 it became much more difficult, especially for walkers with dogs.
The land had changed hands and the new owner put a wire fence across the field, presumably to prevent cattle from going down to the river. He put a stile in the fence where it crosses Peter Tavy footpath 39 (grid reference SX 532803) without obtaining consent from the highway authority. A structure across a public highway is an obstruction, unless the authority has granted consent under section 147 of the Highways Act 1980, on agricultural grounds. The Dartmoor National Park Authority acts for Devon County Council in such matters and has a policy on such consents which favours the least restrictive option.
The awkward stile was extremely irritating, especially for dog walkers as it could not be easily negotiated by dogs and they could not get under or over the fence.
I complained to the Dartmoor National Park Authority. In July 2014 Andrew Watson, head of access, replied that he would ask the landowner to apply under section 147 for a gate. Nothing happened on the ground, and I inquired about progress many times.
At last, when I visited earlier this month, I saw that the stile had been replaced with a gate, 19 months after my first request.
A campaign success—but one which was a long time coming.