Fencing work to enclose the footpath across Feathercombe farmland between Hambledon Church and the woods below Hydon’s Ball has been completed.
The new owners of the farm, who consulted with Hambledon Parish Council over the proposal, have installed oak posts and wire fencing and allowed a width of more than two metres. This is considerably wider than the minimum of 1.75 metres requested by Surrey County Council, which is responsible for public rights of way.
The parish council asked if the path could be kept as wide as possible, having first established that it did not require planning permission. It asked the owners to consult with SCC, which they did. The county council raised no objection and nor did the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
It was acknowledged that many land owners fence their fields and have a right to do so, to protect crops or animals, and to prevent trespass. The parish council publicised the proposal on the village website and parish magazine and only one objection was raised.
In the past two days several villagers expressed pleasure to councillors at finding the fencing was erected at a generous width. Indeed, it is wider than most other footpaths in the area and the owners have undertaken to ensure that it is maintained to prevent it becoming overgrown.
Public Right of Way 118 crosses what is known as 14-acre Copse, from the kissing gate close to the old lime kiln near the church to another kissing gate at a mid-point in the field and then over to a third kissing gate where it enters the wood. It is a popular and scenic walk for locals and visitors and, until recently, was unfenced.
The new owners of Feathercombe Farm, the Trinity Partnership, have ended arable use of the field and instead will use it for grazing polo ponies, turning it into high-quality grassland.
Earlier this month, Alice Servaes, on behalf of the partnership, offered a site visit for Hambledon Parish councillors to explain the need to fence both sides of the path to ensure the welfare of the ponies, to prevent trespass and to keep dogs from straying.
Councillors were shown dog mess deposited many yards away from the path, a health hazard to grazing animals, and clear evidence that some dog walkers were allowing their animals to run over private land.
A parish council inspection the day after work was completed found that dog mess was evident inside the new fencing, a worrying sign that some inconsiderate dog walkers are letting their pets foul the path without clearing up after them.
PLEASE take dog waste bags with you to ensure the path remains a pleasure to walk for all.