We are not a charity primarily concerned with seeking access to the countryside. Generally we support the policies of the Ramblers (the “Ramblers’ Association”), and greatly appreciate the efforts of that and related organisations which have resulted in a secure network of rights of way and a right of access to open country.
We believe that people have a right to access and enjoy the countryside. The rights of way network and the right to walk in open country are essential to an experience of the Dales, and bring physical and spiritual benefits to both residents and visitors. The rights of way network is also an important aspect of the history and cultural heritage of the Dales.
We also believe that in order to access the countryside, it is essential that people both within and from outside the Dales should be able to travel to and around the area. Our policies on transport and especially public transport therefore link closely to those on access.
- We recognise the importance of observing the Countryside Code.
- We support the maintenance and enhancement of the rights of way network in the Dales.
- We support the availability of access to land classed as open countryside.
- We support a policy of “quiet enjoyment” of the countryside. This means that we advocate access on foot, by cycle and on horseback. We recognise that there are rights for motorised users on some unsurfaced routes, but we believe that the abuse of such rights should lead to their reduction or loss.
- We believe the rights of way network should be accessible to a wide range of users. To facilitate this, “barriers” to less able users should be reduced wherever possible: stiles should be replaced by stock-proof gates except where the former are part of the vernacular heritage of the area.
- We believe that adequate waymarking of routes across “improved” land will both increase the confidence of less experienced walkers and reduce the likelihood of trespass with consequent annoyance and inconvenience to landowners.
- We recognise that many people enjoy the company of dogs, and encourage responsible ownership and control of dogs in the countryside. The use of leads at appropriate times is encouraged in order to ensure the safety of livestock and ground-nesting birds.
- We recognise the demand from charities to organise challenging walks to raise funds, but encourage them to minimise the impact of traffic and parking, and to promote a greater understanding amongst participants of the nature of the land they walk through, and the need to ensure responsible levels of use.
- We recognise the need for wider safe access for cyclists, but do not support the use of bikes on footpaths.
What we will do
- We will encourage people of all backgrounds to access and enjoy the countryside in a responsible way.
- We will urge Access Authorities to fulfil their statutory responsibilities regarding access and to provide adequate resources for their countryside services in order to ensure the resolution of issues and difficulties.
- We will support the National Park Authority in policies which keep the maintenance and enhancement of rights of way as one of its highest priorities.
- We will support user organisations in their efforts to ensure that the rights of way network is protected and enhanced, and that access to open countryside is not diminished.