Last Sunday I went for a walk to Cod Wood to see how the wild daffodils were doing. I parked up at Steps Bridge and took the permissive path along the river to Cod Wood.
This is not the first time that this situation has arisen. The Dartmoor National Park Authority pay the landowner to allow access through the woods so that the National Trust and Woodland Trust woods beyond can be reached. This sign appears to suggest that no agreement for the future has yet been reached and therefore the gate will be locked on April Fool’s Day.
In the times of austerity the DNPA has a lot less money than it used to have and therefore reaching agreements like this and being able to pay for them is much more difficult.
UPDATE: I have now been contacted by three reader of my blog who have told me that the reason that the access agreement is ending is not as a result of financial wranglings between the owner and the DNPA. Apparently the owner is fed up with anti-social behaviour by a minority of people using the permissive path (e.g. dog fouling, littering, abusive comments etc). As a result he has had enough and who can blame him.
I wonder whether there might be another solution.
The area hatched in red is the piece of woodland where the access agreement is in place – beyond the red area the woods are owned by the National Trust. The National Trust also owns the woodland to the north of the River Teign – marked as ‘Meadhaydown Wood (Nature Reserve)’ and known as Dunsford Nature Reserve. It leases this to the Devon Wildlife Trust. There is a well used track through the nature reserve by the river. Perhaps a long term solution might be to build a footbridge across the Teign from the Dunsford Nature Reserve into Cod Wood? It would be expensive in the short term but would solve the access problem once and for all. There of course might be very good reasons why this is a bad idea (e.g. impact on wildlife, impact on Dunsford Nature Reserve and aesthetics) but perhaps it is worth exploring.