Landowner closes village paths to walkers after dogs scare horses

A sign preventing people accessing a permissive path in Hethersett. Picture: Peter Steward

A sign preventing people accessing a permissive path in Hethersett. Picture: Peter Steward - Credit: Peter Steward

A number of paths around a Norfolk village have been closed by a landowner after problems caused by dogs allowed to roam free.

The permissive paths at Hethersett have been shut to the public after a number of horses were “spooked” by dogs.

The paths in question are off the B1172 and across the fields behind the historic Kett’s Oak.

During much of lockdown ramblers, walkers and dog owners were able to walk around the fields to exit close to Wong Farm on the road between Wymondham and Great Melton.

The fields were also used by horse owners who paid to exercise their animals there.

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In the last month no entry notices have been put up to prevent access to the fields.

Closure notices were also put up but were torn down.

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The documents read: “Regrettably it has become necessary to close public access to these permissive routes.

“This action has been taken in order to ensure the safety of horses and riders from Wong Livery, who as part of their livery subscription pay for the upkeep and ability to ride on the tracks as a safe route away from the busy roads.

“Even from a distance horses are reactive to walkers and walkers with dogs (especially if off the leads); resulting in a serious risk of the horse spooking and potentially bolting in fear.”

MORE: Families enjoy £1.1m cycle route after official openingUntil 2018, the government provided support to help keep permissive paths open but when this ended the paths were kept open with the cost being met by the landowner, in this case the Lombe Estate.

“Unfortunately some local dog walkers ignored requests to keep their pets on leads and out of control dogs caused a number of incidents with horse riders who pay for the right to ride around certain fields,” a spokesman for the Lombe Estate said.

With permissive paths, the landowner(s) can stipulate reasonable conditions and failure to follow these can lead to the closure of the paths.

Permissive paths have been opened on the Wymondham side of Wong Farm along with signs asking people to keep dogs on leads.

Some of these link up with public footpaths.

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