Ged wants walkers in North Willingham to make sure they respect his public right of way

Ged Houlton is urging walkers in North Willingham to take care when using the footpath which runs through his six acre paddock. He is pictured  with his Cocker and Springer spaniels. EMN-170427-112901001
Ged Houlton is urging walkers in North Willingham to take care when using the footpath which runs through his six acre paddock. He is pictured with his Cocker and Springer spaniels. EMN-170427-112901001

A North Willingham man is concerned for the safety of his property after claiming walkers using a public right of way in his paddock are ‘straying from the path’.

Ged Houlton also said that he often finds the gate left open by walkers wanting to use the public foothpath.

The paddock, in which Mr Houlton has kept livestock and uses to exercise his Springer spaniel, has been specially fenced to keep sheep and his dog in – which is ‘fruitless’ should the gate be left open.

While Mr Houlton says that public footpaths are ‘wonderful’, he has urged walkers to be careful after displaying signage reminding them to keep the gate shut.

Mr Houlton said: “I have six acres of land, and a public foothpath runs diagonally through it.

“Most walkers are good and friendly – but they can be a source of rural crime.”

Mr Houlton also alledges he has had items taken in the past, as well as finding people on his private property.

He added: “There’s a lake with a bridge to a private summer house in my paddock and I’ve found people in there before!

“People wouldn’t like it if I trespassed into their back garden and that’s what the paddock is to me - my big back garden.”

According to Mr Houlton, the problem also lies with groups of walkers who hold the gate for one another.

He said: “People hold the gate for walkers straggling behind as it’s the polite thing to do.

“All it takes is for someone to jam it open, and then it gets left like that.

“If my Springer gets out, she’s been known to go for days!”

And Mr Houlton says that he can turn cyclists away from the path.

He added: “You don’t have to give full access to cycles.

Chris Miller, team leader – countryside services at Lincolnshire County Council, explained: “This particular right of way is a footpath and can only be used by those on foot – cyclists would be trespassing.

“Access is limited to the footpath itself – the right of way does not cover the rest of the paddock.”

NFU’s county adviser for Lincolnshire, Andrew Wilson said: “One of the issues farmers often tell us about is that gates get left open and livestock are then put in danger.

“Walking in Lincolnshire’s beautiful countryside is a wonderful pastime but it brings responsibilities and one of those is to ensure that you always leave gates as you find them.

“Please, follow the Countryside Code and always leave gates as you find them.”

Mr Houlton said:“It’s a pleasure to see people walking in the countryside - but it must be done responsibly.”