Author Topic: DOLFOR Should I complain to the Powys CC  (Read 1545 times)

barewirewalker

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DOLFOR Should I complain to the Powys CC
« on: 12:56:48, 23/06/19 »
Yesterdays walk, a circular from Dolfor, just a few miles out of Newtown, Powys was spectacular but difficult. Difficult to navigate, almost impossible to execute and potentially fraught with some danger.

Why put this post in General Discussion and not the Welsh section? Because we were visitors to Wales, and the problems arising are probably caused as much by British influences as being endemically Welsh.

The reasons I will not complain on the standard ramblers grounds;

Nettles, Brambles and Briars across the way in abundance.
Broken walk furniture. There was none.
No Fingerposts, they probably have yet to be put up in that area.
No WAY MARKS, again as above.
Locked and obstructed gates on the right of way. Too many to be bothered to identify.
Fallen trees across RoW. again as above.
Privacy notices, deliberately positioned to discourage use of RoW.

Powys is a huge administrative area, most of the money they have available goes into more obvious areas such as Brecon and the obvious tourist locations. So why do I raise the question?
This walk would be graded as one to be included in the best in the country IMO, I would give it ***** rating out of 5, if the way was possible and the features recognized and better managed to attract notice. But it is not its own, there are dozens of mini areas that could be describes as AONBs, within mid Wales that provide exceptional short walks or highlights for high grade longer walks.

What I would be complaining about would be the ignorance of the occupiers of that part of the country on the asset that is theirs. Take one example; The Dolfor Inn has been closed for many years, I thought it had been permanently shut after a GE drive by, but we only learnt that it had been re-opened recently, by talking to a property owner on out way around the walk, when we had to pass through his new build that had no waymarks.

His attitude was disbelief that anyone should want walk the way we intended to go. We met him and his wife at the pub a few hours later, we were able to tell them of one of the highlights of our walk was in Wennault Wood, though getting there and out was no mean feat.

Despite being friendly this person had an underlying disposition to discourage us, this was also matched by another local person, a farmers sister, she had just returned from a 26 mile walk/run from Staylittle that day. But could not fully value the reasons why we were walking on her family farm. Again reasons to avoid walking their fields were stressed. An age old reason for going into fields shut off for hay, which probably date back to scythe cutting, was bought up, despite a RoW going across the field being recognized, and over emphasizing a track as 'private', despite a RoW clearly being marked on the map. This encounter was quite friendly, but I but there may have been some hidden guilt as she took our map off to show a brother, that showed we had made a very difficult crossing of a stream in a ravine to access their land, where there should have been some direction, even on H&S grounds.

Anyway we did take this lady's advice about a change to my planned route. It was both good and bad, it did lead us to a beautiful ravine side track, however we then ran into the most impossible obstructions across the rightful way, though there was a far easier route. This would not be on the Definitive Map AND access to it discouraged by enthusiastic use of barbed wire despite the fact it could have provided an alternative to the impossible section of righteous way!

Should I complain? Should I draw attention to a walk that we, despite out trials and tribulations, thoroughly enjoyed. The Dolfor Inn was enjoying a full booking for evening meals, so we missed out, but should their local attraction add covers for those nights when custom is harder to come by?


Does a local community see within it's identity a 'hospitality suite', and not recognize within that community lack of hospitality in the countryside as a contra influence.

Thanks Dolfor, we had a great day out, a superb adventure. But I have a deep rooted desire to go out and buy a joint of NEW ZEALAND lamb as a protest.
« Last Edit: 13:00:45, 23/06/19 by barewirewalker »
BWW
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Jac

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Re: DOLFOR Should I complain to the Powys CC
« Reply #1 on: 18:01:49, 23/06/19 »
If your route was on PRoWs then yes, COMPLAIN
So many paths, so little time

barewirewalker

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Re: DOLFOR Should I complain to the Powys CC
« Reply #2 on: 10:05:46, 24/06/19 »
The obvious answer  :) and thanks, but I wrote the piece with a 'why should I bother' attitude for a reason in para.4. And partially with 'tongue in cheek'.
I was on one occasion privileged to sit in on a Powys LAF meeting and I am more than certain that the obstructions and difficulty experience in this area are not due to bureaucratic indifference. The malaise within land management is probably more due to the reluctance of the landowner element to move from the 18th century to the 21st and this has left the farmers in that area ignorant of certain social responsibilities.
BWW
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Dyffryn Ardudwy

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Re: DOLFOR Should I complain to the Powys CC
« Reply #3 on: 10:55:41, 24/06/19 »
Its easier said than done, especially with cutbacks to council funding.
Its important that you bring these issues to the Councils attention, as its quite possible they are unaware of the problems you encountered.

Powys unfortunately has one of the wildest and remotest areas of Wales under its jurisdiction, and with a very small rural population, council funding and revenue will be an issue.

I agree though, that unless visitors inform those involved in the countryside management of Powys, things will not get done.

I totally agree with bureaucratic indifference statement, with so few staff to cover such a vast area, that has one of the smallest rural populations in the whole of Wales.

It all comes down to funding and available revenue.

The County of Powys covers a vast area of Central Wales, starting from the junction near Cemmaes Road, almost on the southern edge of the Snowdonia National Park, right down to the outer edges of the Brecon Beacons national park, near the Garwnant visitor centre, only a few miles from Merhyr Tydfil, an absolute vast area of mostly desolate farming country.

That's a distance of 84miles, all with a tiny population, and a fairly small budget, to cover everything.


No doubt there are many such blocked rights of way, in Central Wales, but with so few staff to cover a huge area, its a difficult task, but its worth bringing it to their attention.
« Last Edit: 11:02:54, 24/06/19 by Dyffryn Ardudwy »

barewirewalker

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Re: DOLFOR Should I complain to the Powys CC
« Reply #4 on: 14:20:03, 24/06/19 »
Thanks for your response DA, with good observations.

I think one of the pointers in this area, is the lack of Fingerposts. From my time on a LAF, I understand that this part of walk furniture is the first to be introduced to an area, so the absence of these, I assumed that I was walking into an area that would be difficult.


I link some of my thinking to a walk we did in the Dolanog area.


Although the fingerposts we all in place many of the footpaths were not waymarked or or furnished. We were able to walk the route through field gates until we came to holding (farm) boundaries. Now these ways were subsidiary to the major routes, such as Glyndwrs Way and the Anne Griffiths Walk, and even the secondary Vyrnwy riverside paths, but they were important strategically for make circular walks for a deeper exploration of that countryside.


The farmer we talked to seemed to have the mindset that they were discontinued and likely to fall off the DM if unused. This in the are where the local pub is struggling to stay open. That may be due to the circumstances of the present owner, what if that owner stays in that pub till after 2026. My guess is that there will be a major move by the CLA for path closures after 2026, this will fall on fertile ground amongst a farming community brainwashed into thinking that access has no part to play in the rural community.

Charging bullocks come to a halt and just giving us the stare.

hereford bullocks by Barewirewalker, on Flickr

But one of the highspots was the yellow floor to Wennault Wood, a place a local property owner thought we would not want to walk to.
P1050446 by Barewirewalker, on Flickr
I think the photo needs some touchup, the yellow does not come out like the real thing.
BWW
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harland

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Re: DOLFOR Should I complain to the Powys CC
« Reply #5 on: 14:47:43, 24/06/19 »
Having just walked the Camino Frances my experience there was totally the opposite.  They obviously realise that walkers/pilgrims actually bring income and employment to the hamlets/villages. 

In addition in the 500 miles of the journey it would be nearly impossible to get lost unless you were not paying attention.  At every junction there were yellow arrows or markers showing the path to take, these markers were frequently painted on the nearest building whether that be someone's home, a church etc, nobody seemed upset by the markers on their buildings.  In this country without encouraging employment in rural areas the youngsters will migrate to the major cities and the villages turn into expensive retirement homes.

jimbob

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Re: DOLFOR Should I complain to the Powys CC
« Reply #6 on: 17:02:25, 24/06/19 »
Having just walked the Camino Frances my experience there was totally the opposite.  They obviously realise that walkers/pilgrims actually bring income and employment to the hamlets/villages. 
In addition in the 500 miles of the journey it would be nearly impossible to get lost unless you were not paying attention.  At every junction there were yellow arrows or markers showing the path to take, these markers were frequently painted on the nearest building whether that be someone's home, a church etc, nobody seemed upset by the markers on their buildings.  In this country without encouraging employment in rural areas the youngsters will migrate to the major cities and the villages turn into expensive retirement homes.
Yes a very different experience on all the camino routes as well as on most French/Spanish GR routes.

As for the migration from villages , this has already happened and statistically is in decline for the simple reason that there is no one really left in villages who can leave. Schools closed,  shops closed, churches closed, zero public  transport., no pub, village halls sold off, even farriers and smithies have disappeared.
As for BWW's query, then absolutely yes, report to the local authority. Then when his pet subjects state the paths are not used,  the councils will have proof that they are, even if they cannot afford to maintain or force maintenance as they should.
We need a movement to take on the right to roam again. But we also need to accept that many idiots misuse the countryside to the detriment of the silent, unnoticed majority of users who do no damage and leave no trace of their passing.
Dogs killing lambs and causing ewes to miscarry will always hit more headlines than "walkers shut gates behind them and kept dogs on leads"
Too little, too late, too bad......

barewirewalker

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Re: DOLFOR Should I complain to the Powys CC
« Reply #7 on: 06:41:54, 25/06/19 »
Thanks Harland and Jimbob for your contributions, a useful comparison and judging by the references on this forum alone British make a very useful contribution to the French rural economy.

I know Jimbob thinks I have a fixation, but it is not easy to avoid referring to the germ that infects a body, when discussing a disease. If I love the body, our countryside, I recognize the symptoms of the disease, it is not unnatural to wonder if there is a cure. How does finding a cure start. Through study on a part of that body.
Thanks to your contributions in open discussion, I have made a couple of small steps forward, combined with the conversations with the occupiers of that part of the countryside.

When I first read the Landowners 'Common Sense' policy on Access I knew it was flawed, but how? Very difficult to pinpoint in logic. Reading the articles published leading up to this document made me suspect that landowners are scared of "Rights of Way" and they are terrified of the Scottish Land Reform Act. Politically Wales is very much closer to achieving this, than England.

But the Scottish Land Reform Act came in primarily because Scotland has too few rights of way courtesy of English style absentee landlords.

A freedom to roam, was the basis that created Rights of Way.

Landowners claim that our access network is made of old shortcuts and redundant ways to work, in these reasons incorporates the understanding that the landowner allowed access with his consent. They are frightened to admit that ways of old crossed boundaries of ownership.

(Should we be looking for more ways that demonstrate this?)

Within the Dolfor area is a hint that a drovers way passed through it. A local told me that his footpath led down to Newtown, but could not equate to the extension of that way going in the other direction. All this wrapped up in arguments designed to discourage exploration.

Is there more to learn from the Anthropology of walking? Should we be learning more from our countryside than those current occupiers, who want to keep us out, so that we can learn from the little evidence that is still there.

Somewhere in these examples is the proof/precedents in common law that we should have the right to roam and there are examples out there that it is for the common good. I just hope I can trigger off others to look deeper as well.


« Last Edit: 06:49:19, 25/06/19 by barewirewalker »
BWW
Their Land is in Our Country.

barewirewalker

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Re: DOLFOR Should I complain to the Powys CC
« Reply #8 on: 11:18:26, 28/06/19 »
As a side issue to my own post, an interesting point has emerged.
Recognizing the symptoms of the current landowners policy of eroding the age old tradition of hospitality in rural areas, is only part, seeing the obverse is perhaps more interesting and important.
A knoll with pine trees was observed on our walk. A drovers waymark?

This link may be of interest; http://www.localdroveroads.co.uk/recognising-the-routes/ I stumbled on it by accident, looking for illustrations of Scot's Pine Trees, because I realised that this location is in line with the Kerry Ridgeway and I single massive Scot's Pine above the west facing slope of a ridge, between Bishops Castle and Craven Arms. All in a line going east. Unfortunately this Pine tree was blown down and when I walked there some years ago all that was remaining was the upended root.

The page I stumbled across;
Quote
These waymarkers were used by drovers to guide them to a favourite inn, or a safe river-crossing, in dead ground.
The Scots Pines in question fit this bill perfectly, being at the south end of a ravine, that would be a dangerous feature for cattle to be driven into. Though the watercourse is more brook than river.

« Last Edit: 11:33:27, 28/06/19 by barewirewalker »
BWW
Their Land is in Our Country.

barewirewalker

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Re: DOLFOR Should I complain to the Powys CC
« Reply #9 on: 12:07:12, 29/06/19 »
So does this Lone Pine have a tale to tell?
P1050389 by Barewirewalker, on Flickr
As we walked by, those are the words I said to my partner. More in jest than seriousness.
But the website link in the previous post and other memories from other walks, suggest it is significant.

3Dmap-pinetree by Barewirewalker, on Flickr
Not only is the pine situated on a knoll, a significant map reading feature, it is also a spot height. Enough to draw the attention of the OS surveyors, perhaps the location had come to the attention of earlier generations seeking cross country guidance.
Why spend on such speculation? There are two obvious reasons why an area should be important to 'walking', (a growing national interest).
1. Terrain of interest for quality circular routes.
2. Being part of a linear route.

So, are there grounds here to say that barriers to access are both detrimental to visitors and the local economy.
P1050381 by Barewirewalker, on Flickr

Two new...ish gates! the gate on the right has seen some use, the gate on the left is blocked by more than overgrowth, I could not get to it, though I think that is the gate the footpath RoW should go through. No Fingerpost, so area low on the list of importance but what is happening in the absence of rights of way activity?
gate_RoW by Barewirewalker, on Flickr
If you go through the only accessible gate and are committed to this route, you are met with a conundrum.
Is my interpretation of the map correct and therefore as confusing to all others? An expensive sign, how many more? (One at least we found)
So why not put it on the road gate? :crazy2:
BWW
Their Land is in Our Country.