Survey of Experiences

Clome Cottage Devon 2009 to 2016

Application to delete part of Public Footpath 3 Northlew, from the Definitive Map through the curtilage of Clome Cottage and instead adding an additional length through the curtilage of Glebe Yard

We have a public footpath that runs over the land on parcel number 342 known as Glebe Yard, but then enters and crosses 12m through the curtilage of Clome Cottage to adjoin Queen Street.  The tiny 17th century listed thatched cottage has been our family home since 1981 and the public footpath is within touching distance of our kitchen window. 

A developer purchased Glebe Yard which included a barn which was attached to the rear of our property, and he sought to widen the footpath to 9.59m for a vehicular access splay for his development.  We obtained an injunction.  We contacted Devon County Council to ask when the footpath was first shown as running through our property, because we had discovered that OS mapping from 1803 – 2009 show it as running entirely over former glebe land.  We discover that DCC have adopted the public footpath over glebe land from Kimber Road to Glebe Yard along parcel number 342, but the adoption stops 24m short of where OS 342 reaches Station Road.  They had also not adopted the 12m section through our curtilage at Clome Cottage.  DCC had obviously always been aware of the anomaly between OS mapping and the Definitive Map and the anomaly between the Definitive Statement and the Definitive Map.

We made an application on 14th July 2009 under Schedule 14 to the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to modify the definitive map in conformity with the definitive statement, to show it wholly over glebe land.  The outcome sought by the application, was that of a concurrent deletion and addition, under section 53(c)(iii) and 53(c)(i) respectively, to delete a 12m section of public footpath exiting from Glebe Yard to Queen Street over adjacent land, and add in the alternative a 24m section of public footpath over the whole length of the private accommodation road on OS parcel 342, through Glebe Yard onto Station Road. The parish survey and statement recorded the path over the full length of private road onto Station Road.

On 12th March 2011, we issued a complaint against Devon County Council at Exeter Crown Court under Section 56 of the Highways Act 1980, seeking an order that “There is an ancient public highway known as the Glebe Yard to Kimber Road path in the Parish of Northlew, which connects with public roads at each end” which is out of repair and that the Council, as highway authority, should put it into suitable repair.  Devon County Council denied that it existed, or that it was out of repair.  The complaint was dismissed by Recorder Abbott and later by case stated before Mr Justice Burton in the High Court in January 2013.   Although the crown court did not address: on the balance of probabilities, whether the evidence shows that the route specified in the complainants s.56 notice was a public footpath prior to 1949, they addressed a different question which was not submitted to it.  DCC total costs £24,000 awarded.

On 14th July 2013, we appealed to the Secretary of State for a direction requiring the Council to determine our Wildlife and Countryside application.  On 24th February 2014, she directed DCC to determine within 6 months. On 14th November 2014, DCC refused to modify the Definitive Map.  It was subsequently refused on an appeal on the papers by the Inspector on 11th June 2015.…/fps_j1155_14a_4.pdf

On 14th August 2015 our claim for judicial review was issued at Cardiff Administrative Court.  Permission was refused on the papers and there was an oral renewal of the application for permission before Dove J on 12th November 2015, which was also refused.
Transcript Dove Judgment
Transcript Dove proceedings
We made an application for permission to apply for judicial review at the Court of Appeal and the Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Gross refused the application for permission to appeal without a hearing on 8th April 2016, holding the application to be totally without merit.  Despite the fact that a meritorious point: “The Inspector failed to apply the legal maxim ‘once a highway, always a highway’” that was advanced before Dove J was not dealt with by the judge in his judgment, and highway law is predicated on this fundamental principle.
The Inspector found that the owner of Glebe Yard intended the public to have a right of way over land in his ownership, which proved that a common law dedication had taken place over glebe land between termini prior to 16th December 1949, as shown on the Definitive Statement, therefore the Government Legal Department are knowingly claiming this further £2,000 under false pretences.  The Department is also fully aware that such use to stray and meander over adjacent land as a substituted means of public exit from Glebe Yard to Queen Street, is of such a character that use of it by the public could not give rise at common law to a presumption of dedication as shown on the Definitive Map and therefore the Inspector made another error of law.

Where there has once been a highway over the full extent of the land on parcel number 342 known as Glebe Yard where it adjoins Station Road, no length of time during which it may not have been used, will preclude the public from resuming the exercise of the right to use it if and when they think proper.  The mere consent of a highway authority and the Secretary of State, to an obstruction on the highway is ineffectual for the purposes of legalising it. Even if the highway authority has actually consented to the obstruction and encroachment upon the strip being part of the highway, such consent could not legalise that which was otherwise illegal.

Devon County Council should perform the statutory duty imposed on it by statute, to keep its highways in proper repair and this decision by an Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State not to regularise the situation of the public footpath which exists over glebe land between termini, does not absolve DCC from its duties of maintenance and repair and there is no doubt that the retention of a highway which is in disrepair and obstructed is in breach of them, and poses a risk to the safety of those using the highway.

All because the highway authority and judges prefer to ignore a case where a landowner in 1950, by virtue of his position as Vice Chairman of the Rural District Council, and Chairman of the Parish Council, illegally stops up a highway and draws a substituted line on a map, and trust that this would then lead to the dedication of the substituted route as a public highway.

Despite cogent and incontrovertible evidence to demonstrate on a balance of probabilities, that a mistake was made when the footpath over glebe land in single ownership was first recorded in the definitive map exiting over adjacent land and that the alternative route wholly over glebe land subsists, as recorded in the definitive statement, they can refuse to correct the map if the judges fail to apply the relevant law.  Judicial obfuscation by the judges and Inspectors, they do not refer to Glebe Yard as being delineated by parcel number 342 on all mapping and conveyances and instead refer only to B – X – A and B – C.  You do not dedicate a right or direction of travel.  You create a right by dedicating the land for use as a public passage.  As considered by the House of Lords in 1991 in Attorney-General ex rel. Yorkshire Derwent Trust Limited v Brotherton [1991] 1 AC 425.  This kind of obfuscation by Inspectors and judges prevents the parcel of land that was dedicated by the landowner from being automatically recognised and identified. 

Additions 2015 – to date

Family Homes Count For Nothing
Examples of families that suffer under the name of Rights of Way continue to come forward.   These suggest the family home counts for nothing in pursuit of access to the countryside.     Threats of physical violence, theft, child abuse, damage caused to property, personal worry, all seem to be acceptable in applying Rights of Way. 

It is time for the family home to be classed as excepted land to Rights of Way, there can be no exceptions.  The family home must be secure for the family.  Here is a summary recently sent to Intrusive Footpaths detailing the appalling experiences of a family and illustrating the extent of the wrong doing:
  • Threats of physical violence
  • Threat of returning with a gun
  • Verbal abuse sneers and vitriol comments
  • Pictures taken of 15 year old daughter in a bikini in the garden
  • Children suffered verbal abuse from walkers who quote ‘your mum is a loser’
  • Golf balls thrown in swimming pool
  • Fences kicked in over 20 times
  • Loss of child minding business because cannot secure children in garden
  • Been off work for over year because of stress and worry of the path
  • Not had a family holiday together as a unit, because someone has to stay home to secure the house
  • Husband lives away during the week as he cannot stand the footpath and the verbal abuse from walkers
  • Cars vandalised, nails put under tyres, car aerial broken off
  • Rocks thrown at ponies all suffering facial damage
  • Eggs stolen, and thrown at barn
  • Horse lorry scratched down one side
  • Old boots and a camera lens thrown at geese
  • Chickens shredded and attacked by loose dogs
  • Goslings stolen
  • Horses let out
  • Caught a man in my feed room, who claimed he was lost
  • My son’s football goal net smashed to bits between 19.00 and 21.30
  • Men at night shining torches at the house
  • Pebbles thrown at bedroom window at 04:10 hours
  • Council Health & Safety officers saying risk to public from vehicle movements unacceptable but if path fenced would block any access to home

Survey of Family Home Experience of a Footpath – 2014

1.    Somerset
•    Council decided to add seven new bridleways across land, no prior discussion or consultation
•    Caused great stress, anxiety and frustration to family, wife had a stroke brought on by the experience
•    Safety not considered, new routes placed down busy farm track and across railway track

2.    Staffordshire
•    Rights of way imposed across land by means that can only be described as unreliable and dubious
•    Council had unlimited public funds to pay court costs and hire barristers
•    Whole family endured great mental stress, wife suffered several nervous breakdowns
•    No attempt in distinguishing the difference between ‘use by the public at large’ as opposed to ‘used by workers on the estate’

3.    Wiltshire
•    Application to upgrade footpath to Byway Open to all Traffic (BOAT) made by adviser to council.
•    Conflict of interest
4.    Bedfordshire
•    Neighbour applied for footpath through field, no consultation, only evidence from family and friends and not given under oath  
•    Council resorted to prosecution at great public cost, they showed no attempt to reach a solution
•    Council showed no understanding, when shown how close a new footpath was to family home windows response was ‘put some net curtains up’
•    Experienced wife crying every night at the actions of the council
•    Learning to never trust council officers, appear vindictive and devious
•    Suffered a nervous breakdown, conclusion of psychologist was this resulted from treatment of council
•    Some councillors commented that they were ‘waiting for me to fall off my perch’

5.    Devon
•    Requested a gate to protect the family children from a nearby river
•    Council view ‘not a material concern for the Highways Act’ and ‘no dangers posed to family’
•    Council view gates allowed for protecting livestock only, no consideration for human life
•    Council member was campaigning to upgrade footpath to bridleway, danger to family home and children’s welfare not a concern for council
•    Council made threats of legal action
•    Children unable to play safely outside, normal family not landowner
•    Councils approach is confrontational and irrational.

6.    Somerset
•    New footpath created by council subsequently attempt to upgrade for vehicle access
•    Council did not notify the owners of the land
•    Criminal proceedings lead to owner having mental breakdown, was hospitalised and within days of being discharged committed suicide
•    Owner subjected to brutal onslaught by council, the worry was a contributory factor to his suicide. 

7.    Derbyshire
•    New footpath proposed through gardens
•    Caused great strain on the family
•    Council took to public inquiry
•    Suffered breakdown such was the stress on family
•    Went to civil court, four Law Lords ruled no case for footpath
•    Council continue to spend public money pursuing the footpath despite cutbacks to essential services

8.    Warwickshire
•    Footpaths established through family homes, split homes, crosses drive, splits garden
•    No respect for family homes given 
•    Cannot leave children/grandchildren in garden
•    No consideration to safety of people walking across drive, council has no concept of risk assessment
•    A marathon being run through family garden

9. Cambridgeshire
•    Council spent £0.5m of public money on pursuing a claim for a bridleway/vehicular access
•    We are under extreme distress as we have lost our family farm and business and soon our home also.  
•    This litigation over 15 years, in defending our property has finished us financially. We have been left with nothing following our fight against a corrupt Cambridgeshire CC.  
•    The County Council drummed up spurious support in order to implement a vehicular highway, a bridleway and footpaths, where none previously existed.  
•    The distress and anxiety suffered by our family cannot be put into words. Utter disbelief that in this day and age a bogus claim of public rights can be held to legally exist at the stroke of a pen by a civil servant with no legal qualifications.  
•    We have no security, what other business can be subject to open access 24/7?

10.  South Somerset
•    Suffer verbal abuse and photographs taken of my property
•    Suffer crime, items stolen
•    Police said cannot install CCTV as against human rights of walkers, no rights for family
•    Live on own, constant fear of crime    

11. South Wales
•    Bought the last house to be built on a small housing estate.
•    Right of way claimed through new family home
•    Hearing initiated, Inspector selected had serious complaints made against him a couple of months previously.  The errors of law made by that Inspector are too many to mention.
•    Home owners now have stress related health issues and one had to give up work as become insomniac and felt no longer able to work properly due to being tired during day.
•    Have no privacy in their own home and their Human Rights have been violated.
•    Men have been witnessed walking through their garden wearing ski masks at 3a.m.
•    Men have walked through garden with guns.  Police called and took details.  One week later men with guns held up a shop in the area.
•    Home owners suffer verbal abuse almost daily from users walking through their home.  Owner aged 68 and loath to tackle any one.
•    Do not get the occasional walker, it starts at 5am with dog walkers and continues until late at night, 24/7 365 days a year.
•    No chance of dogs being on leads or under control they run around fouling where ever they please, the owners look on.   Dogs have entered house and barked making home owner terrified.
•    People have urinated (and worse) in garden.   
•    Dream home has become a nightmare.

12. Somerset
•    Council made application for new BOAT
•    Motorcyclists went up and down the track with no silencers on a Sunday afternoon
•    Several people swore blind that they regularly rode along tracks.
•    Locals born and lived in the area said this not true
•    Blatantly false evidence, Inspector adamant and believed the applicants

13. Monmouthshire
•    Footpath runs down our drive and ends at our house
•    Council advised could apply for closure, said just a formality
•    Refused because one person objected, told that “anybody could object for whatever reason, even if he or she didn’t use the right of way”.
•    That effectively means that it would be virtually impossible to get the right of way removed as some busybody would see the application and for no reason other than bloody-mindedness, object to it.
•    Council stated letter to our MP that there was no right of appeal against their decision.
•    People appear out of nowhere near our house, it usually ends up in a dispute with the walker
•    From my experience, the process in attempting to get a right removed is so undemocratic and is loaded against the landowner.

14. Suffolk
•    My footpath goes right up my private drive and through my front garden, washing line included.
•    There are thousands of people who are or have been affected by a local authority where they have made a public right of way across someone’s front garden like mine. 
•    Council did not comply with the legislation they did not serve the notices required by LAW, we did not know of a public footpath until the police and asked me to keep my dog on a lead in my own land!!!
•    Council made me take down gates that have been there for over 12 years to protect my livestock, I have been bullied into taking them down.
•    impact of footpath can be summarised as: 
Threats of physical violence
Threat of returning with a gun
Verbal abuse sneers and vitriol comments
Pictures taken of 15 year old daughter in a bikini in the garden
Children suffered verbal abuse from walkers who quote ‘your mum is a loser’
Golf balls thrown in swimming pool
Fences kicked in over 20 times
Loss of child minding business because cannot secure children in garden
Been off work for over year because of stress and worry of the path
Not had a family holiday together as a unit, because someone has to stay home to secure the house
Husband lives away during the week as he can’s stand the footpath and the verbal abuse from walkers
Cars vandalised, nails put under tyres, car Ariel broken off
Rocks thrown at ponies all suffering facial damage
Eggs stolen, and thrown at barn
Horse lorry scratched down one side
Old boots and a camera lens thrown at geese
Chickens shredded and attacked by loose dogs
Goslings stolen
Horses let out
Caught a man in my feed room, who claimed he was lost
My sons football goal net smashed to bits between 19.00 and 21.30
Men at night shining torches at the house 
Pebbles thrown at bedroom window at 04:10 hours
Council Health & Safety officers saying risk to public unacceptable but if path fenced would block any access to home   
•    Written to David Cameron, Defra and the Planning Inspectorate not one have come back with any sensible answers. 
•    Council admitted in writing they didn’t comply with the law when making the footpath, they falsified their certificate to state that all requirements were met under the Act, yet they are allowed to get away with daylight robbery of my land. 
•    It is a horrible situation to be in, have suffered the injustice and failings of council, received verbal abuse from walkers, people wandering around my house at all hours.  The anguish I have suffered in unimaginable.

15. Carmarthenshire
•    Footpath runs up drive past the kitchen/lounge windows through our garden and my elderly neighbour’s garden
•    We are in our 70s and have several dogs, we decided to try to get this path closed by the correct channels – what a mistake
•    Individuals, many of whom are not even walkers objected. I might understand their position a little better if this path actually went somewhere or was an important link, but it is neither.
•    Proximity to our house will compromise our privacy and threaten our security as anyone passing can look straight in – it also goes right by our pond, fruit and veg garden and across the front of our summerhouse where we like to sit in the good weather.
•    Cannot secure our property if we are away
•    Have we any rights at all in this

16. Gloucestershire (Stroud)
•    request to move the style to the end of driveway to protect our four children aged between 3 and 9 years.     Concerns over safety and security of family.
•    Fortunately the footpath that goes through family home is rarely used with only a handful of people using it each week.    We have asked walkers if they would consider an option of a short alternative route and without exception everybody said they understand our concerns and would prefer our suggested alternative route. 
•    Worried about the isolated random walker or temperamental dog that may cause some reason to be concerned. Even though it is unlikely that any of these people or dogs would harm our children it is of course a risk we would prefer not to take.

17. Devon
•    Parish Council decide to add a footpath spur in 1950 between a cottage and its pig house.   The County Council admit in 2009 they have no evidence of this footpath spur yet they allow it.  We decide to get this footpath spur closed by the correct channels – what a mistake.
•    The public right of way over the original footpath cannot be extinguished by neglect of duty arising from an administration error in 1950.
•    A judgement in Simms & Burrows 1981 made it clear the s53 of the WCA 1981 allowed both for the addition or upgrading of rights of way on the discovery of new evidence, and for the downgrading or deletion.  This judgement stated that there was no provision in the 1981 Act specifically empowering the local authority to create a right of way by continuing to show it on the map, after proof had become available that it never existed.
•    Devon County Council are seeking to enforce their order for costs by way of a charge and the sale of the cottage.   We have appealed for a Direction to DEFRA for the second time. 

18. Surrey
•    The local Council decided 10 years ago that they put the footpaths and bridle way in the wrong place (according to their maps) 25 years ago when the motorway went through the middle of our family farm and home.
•    They say the bridleway should go through our private gated courtyard/garden, through a building that was there from 1800-1990, and up a steep slope.  They also say the footpaths should go on the new concrete farm roads and our main drive and not on the edge of the fields where they put it with signage.
•    They have almost agreed to change the maps to what they say is the “incorrect” routes put in 25 years ago but only if we agree to the footpaths being 2M wide and the bridleway 4M wide, which is far wider that stated in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.  They also want all the stiles removed and wide gates put in.
•    The bridleway currently goes through a very busy farmyard and next to buildings, with lots of machinery and vehicle movement.  We have asked to divert this away through the field for safety and security; this is currently being rejected as they say this will make the route slightly longer and through pasture.  The objection being that the new route would be 17Meters longer and the track surface through a field rather than through our concrete farm yard.  
•    The Council tried to remove a locked gate on our boundary to the motorway saying that it is obstructing walkers…but the Council put in the stile next to the gate over 25years ago for walkers.  The locked gate is needed for security of the perimeter of the farm (and containing livestock).
•    We have various security issues with people found wandering about in our farm yard, and barns saying they are “lost”.  Recently a group of people arrived taking photographs of our vehicles, buildings, farm machinery in the farm yard implying they were going to post them online for the public to see, and we cannot do anything to stop them.  They even took pictures of our son’s play area.
•    Children woken by walkers and runners shouting late at night, frightened.

19. Essex
•    Footpath comes in front drive and through garden between the family home and garage.  It comes within 3 feet of the house, as one might expect from a footpath which was obviously originally created for the benefit of residents and visitors to the house enabling access to the village, school, church, shops etc and neighbouring farms.  
•    Despite the fact that there has been an entrance gate separating the house and garden from what was once the farmyard for considerably longer than the 28 years we have lived here, the council officers are insisting that the gate is an obstruction and should be removed.  Without a gate, effectively this means we cannot allow our family dogs out in to our own garden as they would quickly run off to explore the countryside.  
•    It also means that our young grandchildren cannot be left alone in the garden for fear of wandering off or abduction.  
•    There is no scope for diversion as the neighbouring farmer does not want a diversion on his land.  In law the council have the power to divert the footpath anyway but their preferred method is to tell us that the gate must be removed and dogs locked up 24/7. 
•    I’ve received letters from the council threatening that failure to remove the gate can incur fines of £250 per day, the council can then remove the gate and recover the costs from us.  Additionally the family dogs can be destroyed and I can be fined £5,000 or sentenced to six months in prison.   
•    As we are in an out of the way spot the footpath is actually used extremely infrequently (less than 6 times per year), walkers are invariably polite (often uncomfortable about coming through our garden) and access is freely available, yet still the council officers insist on persecuting us.  
•    The costs of legal advice around this complex, arcane and outdated area of the law is crucifying. The worry, stress and damage to health that this causes is incalculable.  
•    The damage to one’s life and the removal of the ability to live normally in one’s own home is a draconian abuse of power by council officers seemingly unable to employ common sense and is something nobody should have to go through.  
•    It doesn’t feel as though we live in England, it feels more like Russia where our home could be confiscated at any moment. 

20. Worcestershire
•    The bridle-path runs up our drive and straight past our house, then through our outbuildings/garage/barn.   Despite what we were told when be bought the property, there are plenty of people who use this path, walkers, riders, cyclists.  I personally think it is an odd mentality of anyone who wants to use a footpath that is right through someone’s house/garden, either nosey or inconsiderate but I guess that is subjective.
•    We have had people lean over fences into patches of woodland and leave piles of bottles and cans.  We have had people sit on the wall outside the house to look around/ have a drink etc.  We have had people sitting on benches in areas near to but not on the footpath, to have a picnic.  
•    People often stare into our house and always look into the outbuildings. We live on a farm so have tractors, machinery etc.  This means that anyone wanting to see what there is to pinch can come up, walk through, have a good look and return at their leisure.  In fact we even saw someone go into one of our barns once and when we asked them what they were doing they of course said nothing (very aggressively) and went off.  It is a major security issue.  
•    We have had people walking at night – and we cannot challenge them about what they are doing around our house in the dark as it is perfectly legal!
•    We have problems with gates being left open and livestock getting out, people who refuse to put their dogs on a lead, people whose dogs foul outside our house but because it is a footpath it seems to be totally acceptable to leave it there.  We have two sets of neighbours who use our drive for their dogs to foul rather than do it on their own and we can do nothing.  When challenged about putting their dog on a lead we have never had anyone react positively and apologise even!  We have even had people picking flowers and fruit as they come through! 
•    It is not that we are unfriendly or aggressive to people, we are always polite but the attitude seems to be that it is a public bridle-path so the rights of those using it are more important than the people who own the land.
•    I was told that many of the footpaths used to be old postman paths – why does that automatically mean that they become public?  The postman was delivering a service, if every drive that was used to deliver a service by postmen, deliveries etc became a footpath then every house in the land would have a footpath up to its door!
•    We were told we would have to demolish our garage as according to the map the footpath ran right through the middle – we ignored that! 
•    The law should be changed and be clear so that people’s privacy is respected and footpaths moved.
•    Who in their right mind wants to walk through someone’s property?  Surely most empathetic people would be more comfortable being less intrusive?

Application for diversion initially accepted, contracts for maintenance signed, letters stating SCC would support application. Only one rambler who advises SCC PROW who never came to my farm and looked at an old map stated he would make objection. He maintained that the path was not so close to buildings to be intrusive it is 5ft from my front door and as close to my animal buildings and goes through a busy farmyard. 
‘U’ turn done by Officer who was rude did not follow the policies or took into consideration my needs as the owner of the land she ignored health & safety and safety/security of property/farm machinery etc. “Why do you want the path so far away from your house Mrs Hopkins”. This Officer manipulated management when sever complaint was made and went on to lie blatantly to my MP and OMBUDSMAN in a report, the OMBUDSMAN said he had no reason to question the word of an Officer when she told him further objections would be made if the Order was put through. Under the FOI some years later I found ALL were in favour of the diversion but she went on to lie even more.
Misleading Councillors by not providing evidence or withholding evidence so Councillors can make fair and just decisions. Non legally trained Officers giving ‘legal’ advice such as it is not illegal to ride a horse on a footpath, it is not illegal per se to use a vehicle on a footpath evidence used in my case to support the upgrade to restricted byway. 
Refusing to provide us with copy letters stating they could not under the data protection, under the FOI we found they had again lied and no letters had been sent. Conflict of interest this neighbour worked for the Council and I believe knew the enforcement Officer. Conflict of interest Officers who undertook the diversion and I made severe complaint about worked on the modification and upgrade of land despite my protestations. 
Major ill health and stress issues due to the constant worry, reduction in the price of my property and no compensation.

22. Worcestershire
Footpaths through our property are old postman paths – I cannot fathom why that therefore makes them public rights of way as they were for tradesmen.
I have measured the width of a footpath line on an OS map of 1:25000 scale, and worked out the footpath could be anywhere in a 12-18 metre range!  When the man from the Council argued that I should have put a gate 2m to the left I argued this point to him which he conceded.  I think this is an important point when Councils are being pedantic on exactly where these paths lie.  They say that ours past the house runs through the middle of our garage according to the map and the garage (an old farm building dating back many, many decades) and the building may have to be destroyed!
We have a bridleway right past our kitchen/sitting room windows, through the farm yard.  There is an unofficial bridleway in the field in front of the house but away from the house that locals use.  Previous owners applied to have the bridleway officially moved to here.  The Council said no.  When we first moved in a man from the Council came to check our paths and indicated that the path could be moved for a sufficient back-hander.  Obviously we didn’t pursue this!
There is a wall that goes around the house and people sit on it to have a rest and stare in our windows.  This is a farm up a half mile track, totally isolated – how on earth can people think that this is acceptable?
We have had walkers up here at night (we live in total countryside, nothing vaguely around us to go to, no pubs nothing) but we cannot challenge them.  Many people seem to misunderstand where the footpath goes through the wood and manage to ‘accidentally’ go past the barns where we store tractors and equipment.  A thief’s heaven as they can check out what is there.  Things often just “disappear”.
Walkers frequently leave gates open so the sheep end up destroying our garden.  Litter is often dropped, in fields we have cans, crisp packets etc – a danger to the livestock.
People have sat on benches in our garden (not even on the footpath) to have their lunch!
We cannot let our dogs loose in case walkers come through with their dogs not on a lead.  When challenged, people resent having to put their dogs on leads.  It seems in the country dogs should go free – even in fields of sheep and lambs!
We have running clubs coming through, dogs loose, kicking our chickens to get them out of the way so they can get through gates.
Walkers seem to think that their dogs fouling in our garden is totally acceptable and refuse to clear up – it is the countryside, a footpath, so why should their dogs not foul where they like seems to be the attitude?  If someone walked their dog past the gate of a house in the town and the dog fouled the house owners would complain and the complaint would be seem as valid.  Not so in the country.
It seems that the walkers have rights, the owners of the land none.  How can this be right?  People have to live and make a living, surely that should morally come above recreation?  What about our human rights?

23. Powys
Path goes up driveway, over lawn into field via gate, it exists only on a map, there is no actual footpath on the ground (approx 30 yards long).  Unused for first 8 years of living here (and before having talked to locals).  Last 5 years usage by walkers has started and slowly increasing. 
Garage burgled since footpath use started (can’t be seen from road, yet thieves came equipped with a trailer to take lawn tractor) in total £10k worth of property stolen.  
Unknown car parked on drive for several hours.
Wife was shouted at by walkers to put our dog on lead as he was not in “close control on a footpath” ie our garden. (Labrador so not aggressive).  Now feel worried leaving him outside. 
Reported to council by walkers who felt gate latch inadequate, its basic but functional. (Owner of field next door also reported).  
Unable to secure property.  One Sunday morning found man asleep under bush in garden/on footpath (Was very obviously still drunk from night before) Not legally allowed to remove him?
Walkers found wandering around garden.
Gate to field left open on several occasions.  Have had both sheep and cows in garden and on one occasion walkers left both gates open and sheep ended up on lane. 

In theory we cannot leave our cars on one part of drive as it would block footpath.

24. Leeds 
We are a semi-rural end terrace house and have a public right of way running through our garden entering at the front running across the front of our property about 5m from the front door, outside our immediate garden hedge, it goes round the side of our house, past a lane to the back of our terraced row and straight up into a field. 
There are only 4 houses in the row and no other homes for a good 200-300 meters over a bridge and behind a woodland.   These are just single houses dotted about. Our right of way is on an access road / path about 12 feet wide affording us and our neighbours access to the rear of our houses through our garden. 
Speaking with the council I was hoping to fence a portion of it off to keep public users on the other side of a boundary. This I am not permitted to do as the new path will need to be 3 meters wide and will then encroach on our drive. A path about 1.5 meters wide would suffice but the council are working to a set of guidelines and say 3m is the min between 2 boundaries for alterations to a rights of way. 

This all on land I am paying a mortgage on. Who are we to expect that needs a 3 meter wide path? In our garden we have had a number of instances that make us concerned about the safety of our children, pets and the security of our home. There are many dog walkers in the area, of which we are one. The dog walkers who use my garden for access to the fields and right of way point blank refuse to keep their dogs on the lead in our garden, “it’s a right of way” I have had shouted at me many a time. We have dogs chasing our cats and only last year had a cat literally torn to pieces by a pack of uncontrolled dogs. We believe they were hunting dogs but never the less this occurred on my neighbours back step in-front of their children 2 days after Christmas. The cat had her skin torn off. The hunters use our garden “right of way” to access the fields as deer roam free and they like hunting deer. They will not put their dogs on leads. We have seen in the news the consequence of such dogs and their impact on children and other animals and have now had 1st hand experience. The police in this issue cannot do a thing without catching them red handed so to speak. We have contacted the local dog warden who cannot enforce any kind of rule to “keep dog on lead” or “Dog Exclusion Order” such as in a school playground, since the right of way is on private land.  The right of way can enforce us to keep our dog tied up, to keep the public users free to use the right of way without being bothered by my dog, but they take no responsibility to get the users of the right of way to keep their dogs on a lead in my garden, to prevent my children and pets being attacked by uncontrolled dogs. Invariably the dogs we get along our right of way are brought here because they are not the dogs they want in the local parks, i.e. they are nasty big Alsatians and Rottweiler’s.  To further this we have many poo bags left in our garden, if we’re lucky. I have had to stop my little girls playing in the leaves under our beautiful garden oak tree since there is no way for them to differentiate between the leaves and poo, needless to say it’s been messy and exceptionally unhygienic.
To add pain to this there is a 500 house development being built near ¼ mile away. Apparently 31% of UK homes own a dog so the number of instances of dog issues is sure to increase to the point where something nasty is going to happen over the next 2 or 3 years to my children, my dog or my remaining cats. My wife is ever so concerned over this and I would say her concern is more akin to a suffering and an unhealthy level of anxiety, especially when the kids are out playing… nothing else gets done as we feel the need to protect. We have moved at great expense into a lovely semi-rural location which when the right of way was mentioned, only came with a few walkers. The reality is much worse and the control over who uses it and when they use it is beyond our comprehension. 

We have people in our back garden looking through our garage windows who are “lost”.   We have recently had 3 attempted break-ins into our garage, the access to our property definitely being the right of way, coming down from a crematorium car park along the right of way and into the garden. It’s dark and quiet, perfect for a ne’er-do-well to snoop about. 
I have seen walkers pulling leaves and tugging branches off an apple tree I planted with my dad’s ashes underneath. People I am ashamed to say old enough to know better.
I have seen walkers scraping dog excrement off their boots on my garden steps and on grass I cut twice a week in summer, so obviously not scrub land, again with no thought to anything other than their unrestricted right to treat my garden as theirs. Once I have had a woman and her son (about 17 years old) setting up a pick nick blanket in our garden with a load of shopping bags and beers, she was on the phone telling her friends to come on down… She did move when asked, under duress, but had we not have been there who knows what would have happened.
Although we have gate posts on our land our neighbours are opposed to us have gates on them as this will push the public right of way users across to use a pedestrian entrance adjacent to their property which my neighbours will not accept, subsequently we have cars driving in our garden at 2am, there’s lots of sexual encounters going on and fly tipping, drug dealing and drug taking. The police are regular visitors. Again another reason the right of way stops us enjoying our rural life. When I work away, this causes further anxiety to my wife at home alone with two young girls and druggies in our garden. 
Running parallel and starting within 100 meters of our right of way is another right of way that comes out on the same road about 400 meters away from where our right of way comes out. This parallel right of way runs through no gardens so is a clear alternative to my right of way. 

25. Northumberland

The restricted byway is intrusive in that walkers can look in through our windows and sometimes stand in our yard gazing at the house
Farm machinery is used in the yard and could be a danger to walkers
Cattle and sheep  are often brought into the handling pens  at the bottom of the yard through which the byway passes and walkers can often upset the work and spook the cattle which tend to be wild and are then difficult to handle
The byway exits onto a blind bend on a road with no footpath causing a hazard to road users and pedestrians
The byway becomes extremely muddy in the winter and is unsuitable for walkers
The byway merely joins two Council roads and is not on a particular walking route

26.  South Cumbria
Four examples here:
A spurious Bridleway based on a mapping error in 1911. The bridleway started from a road, went up the drive to pass within a few feet of the front door, then across a lawn to a narrow stile in the boundary wall of the back garden, up the hill to a limestone quarry where it was obstructed by the quarry face and a high stone wall dating from 1801 with no stile over or gateway through it. 
At an inquiry regarding an application to upgrade a footpath to a bridleway, the Inspector writes, ‘With regard to the section of the Order route that is currently not recorded as a right of way of any sort, the requirement of Section 53 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (the 1981 Act) is that the evidence discovered by the surveying authority, when considered with all other relevant evidence available, should show that a right of way that is not shown on the Definitive Map and Statement subsists along the Order route.’
‘Although the Inclosure Award describes Hampsfield Road as a ‘private carriage and drift way’, it was argued on behalf of the OMA that this did not necessarily mean that the public did not have the right to use it.’
‘Overall, it is my view that it cannot be assumed that the Order route, or a route similar to it, was part of Hampsfield Road , awarded as a private carriage and drift way in the 1809 Inclosure Award. Furthermore, even if Hampsfield Road did include the route similar to the Order route that is shown on the Award Plan, the Award does not indicate the existence of public rights over it.’ In section 34, he continues, ‘However, it is my view, for the reasons expressed in connection with each of the various documents referred to, that neither the Inclosure Award nor subsequent documents show that public rights of any sort subsist over the route.’
Thereafter, only user evidence was considered in accordance with the ‘20-year rule’. The statements made by the horse riders 
were palpably false in that they claimed never to have seen the notices with ‘No Horses’ written on them 
nor encountered gates chained with padlocks which could be opened only sufficiently to allow pedestrians access.  
riders had obviously never ridden along this route; 
Despite all these flawed statements, the Inspector was able to sum up. ‘ In the circumstances, it is my view that there is not sufficient evidence of action taken by landowners to indicate there was no intention during the relevant 20 year period to dedicate the Order route as a public bridleway to negate the presumption that it was so dedicated.’   The Inspector was therefore able to conclude,  ‘The Order route can be presumed to have been dedicated as a public bridleway in accordance with the provisions of the 1980 Act as a result of public use in the period from September 1973 to September 1993.’, and 54. ‘Having regard to these and all other matters arising, I conclude that the Order should be confirmed.’
3. At an Inquiry concerning a proposal to add a bridleway to the Definitive Map the Inspector had to agree that there was no documentary evidence to show that this route was anything more than a footpath with footbridges and a stile for walkers; he had therefore to rely on statements of usage by horse riders.
‘Much of the evidence in this case relates to usage of the route. In respect of this, the requirements of Section 31 of the Highways Act 1980 (the 1980 Act) are relevant. This states that where it can be shown that a way over land has been enjoyed by the public as of right and without interruption for a full period of 20 years, the way is deemed to have been dedicated as a highway unless there is sufficient evidence that there was no intention during that period to dedicate it.’
 ‘In this case, there is evidence of public use of the Order route. It also seems that the landowners have constructed and improved the ford across Muddy Pool but that this was not for the purpose of facilitating public access but to enable the route to be used by agricultural vehicles. On balance, I do not think that dedication of the route as a public bridleway can reasonably be inferred at common law. However, in view of my conclusion regarding the presumption of dedication in accordance with the provisions of the 1980 Act, this does not affect the confirmation of the Order.’
After the Inspector was shown a copy of the 1969 OS 25-inch map – published to correct all the errors in the earlier maps and showing the whole route as a ‘Footpath’– he agreed that, An Ordnance Survey (OS) 1:2500 map of 1969 shows the route marked ‘Path’ and crossing Muddy Pool at a ‘Foot Bridge’, but continued, ‘However, it is not the case that all available maps show similar information, an OS 6” map of 1892 and the 3rd edition 1:2500 map (c. 1913) both show the route annotated ‘B.R.’ (Bridle Road), albeit crossing Muddy Pool by way of a ‘Foot Bridge’. Although the annotation ‘B.R.’ does not appear on the section of the route shown in the Order, it appears further to the east on the 1892 map and further to the west on the 1913 map. This suggests to me that there was then a Bridle Road which ran through from Greenbank Lane to Aynsome Lane, although not necessarily one with public rights over it.’
The Inspector went on to write in 22. ‘As the Definitive Map is the formal record of rights of way, there must inevitably be an initial presumption that a right of way shown on it does in fact exist. The standard of proof required to show that the inclusion of a bridleway on the map was incorrect is the balance of probability, however, evidence of some substance must be put into the balance if it is to outweigh the initial presumption that it was correctly included. In this case, I have not seen such evidence. I therefore propose to modify the Order to omit references to the downgrading of the section of the current definitive bridleway between Points A and C.’, the footbridge; thus producing two bridleways crossing the Muddy Pool  beck, one, a slate footbridge too narrow to ride horses, the other using the new ford .
4. This concerns an alleged footpath through some forestry but there never has been a path, being only the edge of a limestone pavement it can never be made into a path. When questioned on the subject of accuracy in mapping the Ordnance Survey wrote: ‘The alignments of Bridleway 506007 and Footpath 506022, as highlighted in red and green respectively on the attached map, were obtained from the Definitive Map copy supplied to Ordnance Survey by Cumbria County Council in August 1991. As Cumbria County Council are the defining authority for public rights of way it is this information which Ordnance Survey must use in its map depiction.’   As a result routes have been put on Definitive Maps as public rights of way without first having been checked by a qualified surveyor, causing confusion and difficulties for both the landowners and the public.

Survey of Family Homes with a Footpath
Today the footpath network is being put to a different use it is increasingly used by the general public accessing the countryside for leisure purposes, this can cause difficulties where footpaths pass through family homes.

Promotion of these little used footpaths to recreational routes may give pleasure to some but it is at the expense of many other family home owners whose privacy and security is now of great concern and worry because they are subjected to this very significant upgrade.   This is an increasing problem across the country.

The purpose of footpaths is for the benefit of walkers to enjoy the countryside.  It is not for the purpose of destroying the peace and tranquillity of people’s homes. The reasonable solution is to agree diversion round the homes and farmyards.   This will enable all people to enjoy their lives in peace.    

A survey of families with a footpath through their home shows the degree of suffering experienced which is shocking.   Follow the link below to view the results of the survey.  

It is apparent that there are some fundamental flaws in parts of the Right of Way legislation, the family home seems to have no place and ordinary families are ignored.  It is difficult to believe that the political parties agree with the message that the family home does not matter.   The solution lies in redirecting these footpaths away from family homes.

There is a strong case for an inquiry into this whole process.   Hopefully the Draft Deregulation Bill can bring some sense to all this.