Footpath waymaker swamped by brambles
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Pradoe Footpath – making sure rights of way are safe & accessible

I received a complaint from a resident about accessing the footpath from West Felton to Pradoe Church.

Dear David
I have just completed another walk this afternoon across the Pradoe Farm and am saddened to report that the pathway is totally overgrown from the West Felton end. It was like this for 2019, 2018….  The grass, nettles and thistles are totally invasive and there is no way of easily navigating a safe route to the badly fitting stile into the next wheat field. Again this is partially awkward because the route isn’t safe so I have on a number of occasions had to walk on a tractor track through the wheat.

West Felton Resident

So I walked the footpath to have a look

The undergrowth was chest-high in many places and as the resident experienced, I had to resort to walking in the tractor tracks on several occasions.

The middle section is very clear however that deteriorated towards the southern corner of the field under the oak treas. From there until the style the undergrowth is significant again forcing people to walk in the wheat. The waypoint marker post is buried in the brambles. This is less than clear and would be clearer if it was a small fingerpost. The style itself isn’t the worst I have seen. It isn’t the best either by a long way. It certainly isn’t the best if you have short legs or hip problems. Beyond the style the path is clear.

The contrast between this path and the ones by me in Aston Moors is large. Just before lockdown Shropshire council installed several new kissing gates and fingerposts to improve access to the countryside. These were all adjacent to the highway. A field over in any direction and the adjacent stiles and the picture still isn’t as good as it should be.

Video of my footpath walk

Footpath location map

With more people walking during the coronavirus pandemic the whole footpath network needs to be in decent shape so that everybody can use it with ease. That means ensuring safe access by people of all abilities.

Rights of way – who is responsible for what?

The responsibility for ensuring that paths are safe and convenient for the public to use is shared between Shropshire Council and the landholder.

Shropshire Council Footpath Rights and Responsibilities

If the path was cleared and styles improved like on other paths, then the footpath would be used more and would take less effort to keep clear.

Ensuring that rights of way are free from obstruction and that they can be used by the public safely

Shropshire Council: Our responsabilities

Allow rights of way to become obstructed by overgrowing vegetation from boundary hedges and overhanging trees

Shropshire Council: Land owner responsabilities

Both parties need to make improvements to discharge their responsibilities. I have made representations to that effect to both the landowner and Shropshire Council.