|Our Saturday walking group has decided to see what can be done - if anything. It was a great surprise to us to find that a path that's been used for centuries to cross Hazel Wood should so suddenly become closed to the public.|
This is advice I received from Nick Hayes of "Right to Roam".
thanks for your message - these are exactly the local stories that we would like to know about, so thank you for letting us know. As far as we understand it, the landowner is well within their rights to withdraw permission from a permissive path, and so block users. one route you can go down is research the history of this path, and whether it was once a right of way. the Dont Lose Your Way campaign by the Ramblers is great for this (although, it can take years of research to research and prove)
my suggestion would be to pass on our website to every member of your rambling groups and encourage them to sign up. then, i would form a group with them, and write to your local MP and newspapers. In other words, start a campaign. There are only two of us on this campaign, so we dont have the capacity currently to lead on this, but can offer whatever support you need. for example, it would be a very good start to know who owns the land - could you tell us where exactly you live, and which woods and path specifically?
all the best
You can also go on the OS historical maps website and see that in the past there were many footpaths criss-crossing Hazel Wood but I can't find any information about when it was designated "private". Perhaps when the Archives open again, there might be more information available. I don't know who has bought the lower part of the wood. The top part, with the permissive paths, is owned by someone else - obviously a much nicer person!