Alternative Route

Published 9 September 2011

Sign saying alternative path available avoiding garden

Over the summer I did a day walk in Kent and Surrey, with the walk being taken from The Time Out Book of Country Walks volume 2 – a tome (along with the first volume) I must blog about at some point) and it led me past a the sign above. “Alternative Path Available – Avoiding Garden”

I’m always suspicious of signs like this usually because the motives seem to be more about making people do a huge detour just to stop someone exercising their legal right to walk 200m near someone’s kitchen window.

But the legal right of way here really did go through someone’s garden – it was a lovely looking cobbled path surrounded by roses and a neatly clipped lawn. And the legal right of way went right through it.

It’s probably because the garden in question was attached to a converted barn and the footpath had never been redirected. The alternative the owners had provided just ran a few metres away on the other side of a fence, so no long detour needed. I suspect if the owners had gone to the council and asked to get the path re-routed to the alternative they’d provided, the right of way would be changed.

I was partially tempted just to follow the legal right of way but decided to use the alternative cos I’m actually a nice guy, they’d put up a relatively friendly sign and it was a simple route with few diversions.

Sign for an alternative route avoiding a farmyard

I suspect the reason I’m suspicious of such alternative routes, and tend to avoid using them, is because of an experience whilst walking the Coast to Coast. We arrived at Greenriggs Farm outside Kirkby Stephen where we were greeted with a barrage of directional arrows. Four pointed left to an “alternative route avoiding farmyard”. The fourth pointed to the right and was the “official” Coast to Coast route as defined by Wainwright (and a legal right of way.)

We opted for the alternative route on that occasion given someone seemed quite keen we took it. Well we ended up walking on a huge detour, slipping and sliding through some truly awful mud. All to avoid a farmyard.

I have some sympathy for someone who doesn’t want thousands of Coast to Coast walkers going right past their property everyday but that’s the look of the draw. If you want to provide an alternative route, great. But make it a nice one at least.

Your Comments