JfA 2016 Day 9: More bad gates and wonderful vistas

JfA 2016 Day 9: More bad gates and wonderful vistas

Winterbourne St Michael to Lulworth

We said goodbye to Mary last night. She had valiantly stepped in for three days when we had a gap. We are running light with only three of us, which has meant getting behind hand with blogs and problem reports for the councils etc.

The countryside is changing and becoming more open with wonderful vistas. And despite various problems we covered the eighteen miles in five hours.

We returned to the South Dorset Ridgeway which is a promoted route for walkers, which means in practice that the standard of maintenance is much higher than the ordinary network. So for a change we started with some good news, which is the best designed bridge over a major road the A354 that I have seen. The rough grasses hid the traffic from the horses view and it was a pleasure to ride across.

A354 bridge A354 bridge

Once we left the promoted route the standard of maintenance fell with a clang with gates so obscured by vegetation it was hard to find them in the overgrowth and no space for the front end of the horse while opening the gate.

average gate  An average gate: badly overgrown and no space to operate in safety

We had two instances of complete disregard of the public highway with no attempt to clear or even define the route through wheat and another of maize.

wheat field  What path?

Sadly we then met brand new gates on a bridleway at only four feet wide when they should be five feet as a minimum.

 4ft new gate Too narrow

Worse was to follow with a gate ‘lovingly’ tied with rope and when it was cut the gate collapsed onto the ground as the hanging post was rotten. Luckily there being no stock and unable to find the strength to lift it, there it stayed since it was not even necessary and plainly an obstruction.  I hope no one breaks a leg in it when it becomes overgrown.

lovingly tied   collapsed  Collapsed

The final straw was to be met on the Lulworth Estate where they had erected padlocked metal barriers right across the bridleways leaving narrow squeeze gaps next to the overgrown hedges. Why do people never think about others attempting to ride these routes?  Or comply with the law that says less than a five foot gap is an obstruction, a criminal offence?  Are these padlocked barriers even authorised and under what law?

barrier Obstruction

Today is our rest day (really?) which has been totally taken up by writing blogs and even more time consuming writing problem reports to Dorset County Council. Venetia is getting her horse Chuck re-shod today. When checked by a blacksmith two days ago he said about Scylla, “You’ve got a good blacksmith, so look after him”, so Scooby don’t get too big a head!!  And thanks for the extra strong shoes, which I hope will last to the end.

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