With such a wealth of lovely countryside on our Whitchurch doorstep it is important that Rights of Way are fully respected to avoid any potential conflicts.
One such issue is the important differentiation between footpaths and bridleways and not all uses are always compatible – or indeed legal.
Rights of Way invariably cross private land and the right for passage is defined on the Definitive Maps held and maintained by Hampshire County Council.
Beside the River:
One of the most tranquil and picturesque local walks is along the river between All Hallows and Fulling Mill – a beautiful stretch of the River Test teaming with wildlife, fish and fauna.
This is a footpath over private land which has a public right of passage for walking only. This means no cycling or horse riding. There has been some reported misuse of bicycles using this path and it must be stressed that this is not appropriate or legal.
Dogs can also cause issues here and are not allowed in the river as wildlife is disturbed and the bank eroded. Continuance of such activity may lead to action being taken. Also be aware that loose dogs can upset animals such as sheep which is an offence, a matter that has caused distress in the Hangings area towards Bere Mill.
There are other Rights of Way in the area that ARE open to all walkers, cyclists and horse riders. These are Bridleways and are marked as such on the Definitive Maps. Fitting a bell to a cycle is a good idea, or a polite “excuse me” may also help avoid conflicts. If riding a horse, a little ‘neigh’ may help too! Whitchurch only has one Bridleway within its Parish that goes up Bloswood Drive and out towards Egbury.
Routes may be also designated as Restricted Byways or BOATs (Byways Open to All Traffic) which may not have suitable surfaces for motor vehicles, while Permissive Paths/Cyclways exist too, although on these the rights may be withdrawn at any time. Whitchurch has a welcome new Permissive CycleWay to Wells in the Field, which is also a Footpath.
Our countryside needs respect:
Above all it needs to be remembered that the countryside is also a working environment where landowners and farmers make their living and that all users need to respect the legal status that paths and tracks hold. Our countryside is there for us all to enjoy; we must respect and treasure it.
A brief description of some path types:
Footpath – for walking
Bridleway – for walking, horse riding and cycling
Restricted Byway – for walking, cycling, horse riding and horse drawn carriages (or other non-motorised vehicles)
Byway Open to All Traffic – for walking, cycling, horse riding, horse drawn carriages and motorised vehicles. Most do not have a surface suitable for ordinary motor traffic.
Permissive Path or Cycleway – the use may be withdrawn at any time.
(Note further restrictions may be placed on the above categories so please check carefully before use).
Link to HCC Rights of Way pages:
RIGHTS OF WAY IN HAMPSHIRE