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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 August 2005, 08:55 GMT 09:55 UK
Ramblers celebrate right to roam
Walkers in Devon
New maps and booklets have been published
Walkers in the South West are taking advantage of new legislation which allows them to walk in areas of the region previously out of bounds.

The new right to roam laws came into force on Sunday and walking groups in Devon and Cornwall have organised a number of events to mark the day.

A total of 370 sq miles of new land has been opened up, including areas of Dartmoor, Exmoor and Bodmin moor.

New maps have been published showing people where they can now walk.

We are concerned that there is not enough information going to the public
Mike Ellingham, NFU
The opening up of new walking routes under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 has been a controversial measure with many landowners concerned that farmland will be damaged and privacy infringed.

Mike Ellingham, environment and land use advisor for the NFU in the South West, says members are worried.

"We are concerned that there is not enough information going to the public about where they can walk and also about the restrictions that farmers can impose for any purpose for up to 28 days each year or longer periods," he said.

Under the new legislation half of Dartmoor National Park is now open to the public.

There are still restrictions on West Dart between Two Bridges and Huccaby to prevent dogs disturbing wild otters and salmon spawning grounds and on Coombe Down because of open mineshafts.

'Walk legally'

There will be further restrictions on dogs from March to July during the ground nesting bird breeding season.

To celebrate the new rights the Ramblers' Association has organised a number of walks taking in land which opens to the public on Sunday, including Henroost mine track near Ashburton, land near Great Mis Tor and Hatherleigh.

Kate Ashbrook, from the Open Spaces Society, is looking forward to taking part in one of the local walks on Dartmoor.

She said: "I'm going to be able to walk legally for the first time on land just below Henroost mine, where the Duchy of Cornwall have banned access in the past and we are now going to be able to walk there by right."

'Land omitted'

"Although this is all welcome, we have not won as much new access under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act as we had hoped.

"The mapping system and definitions of access land meant that much land which we consider ought to have been included was omitted."

The South West is the sixth of eight English regions where the new right to roam has been introduced.

Access to open country in the final two regions will be brought in later this year.


SEE ALSO:
Q&A: Right to Roam
18 Sep 04 |  UK
Countryside opens up to ramblers
14 Dec 04 |  England


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