13 May 1998
Government publishes over 1,200 farmland walks
By FWi staff
THE Government yesterday published information on more than 1,200 rural walks in a drive to boost public access to the countryside.
Elliot Morley, junior farm minister, officially launched the county-by-county public access registers, which are now available from MAFF, libraries, tourist information offices and on the Internet at http://www.countrysidewalks.org.uk.
The walks, through some of Englands most picturesque countryside, cover more than 700km of footpath and bridleway and 14,000 hectares of land to which the public has free access.
Mr Morley said the Government was currently consulting on the best approach to open up larger tracts of land to the public including mountain, moor, heath, down and registered common land.
“The principle of greater access here is non-negotiable. We have made it clear that we will examine both voluntary and legislative routes to meet our objectives. If we are not convinced that the voluntary approach will achieve our objectives, we shall legislate. We hope to announce our conclusions later this year.”
The guides contain a map of each walk, grid references, suitability for wheelchairs, a short description of the main features and an indication of the best time of year to visit.
The routes include access to river banks, hill tops, canals and nature reserves and are selected by Ministry staff from applications made by farmers and other land managers, who are paid annually under 10-year agreements. Signposting and publicity for the walks are an integral part of these agreements.