The Previous Week
Bye Bye Coastal Path | Hello Offas Dyke
The last few days on the North Wales Coastal path was easy walking as its mostly flat with lots of cycle paths, and once again its suitable to ride on assuming you can access it on horseback. The Welsh coastal path has plenty of sections safe and suitable for horse riding, if you agree please sign and share our petition for safer off road riding
Until this big walk started I had never given much thought to the reasons why the local authorities and land-owners use barriers like stiles to prevent horse riders accessing rights of way
There are of course, some very reasonable arguments for the use of stiles and kissing gates as opposed to bridle gates, the legal status of the path for one; a footpath is for the use of walkers only. Additionally, gates left open can cause huge problems if livestock get out and there is the issue of motorbikes and quads also being able to access a path if there is a bridle gate in place
But kissing gates also cause problems for other users, this quote is taken from a local paper in the South Wales area
DISABLED access to the new boardwalk and coastal path at Porthcawl is being impeded by the erection of kissing gates, according to a local woman.
Cathryn Russell contacted Porthcawl Town Council to complain about the new path that runs from Rest Bay to Pink Bay.
She said that gates have been erected along the route, which totally block access to the path for many disabled people.
Mrs Russell said that until recently, she was a keen runner and, following the construction of the path last year, ran along it most days.
Owing to illness, she now has to use a mobility scooter and was devastated to find that she can travel no further than the gates by Porthcawl Golf Club at Rest Bay.
She went on: “While I was sitting on my scooter considering how I could possibly access the path, a significant number of passers-by stopped and tried in vain to help. They were all totally appalled by the lack of access for people like me.”
She said that when the pathway was opened, the council stated that the boardwalk had been specifically designed to allow wheelchair users and people with pushchairs to easily access the path.
She pointed out that the nature of her illness makes it impossible for her to propel herself along in a wheelchair. The only way she can get about is by a mobility scooter.
She went on: “With the construction of the new path that will ultimately link Rest Bay with the Promenade, I feel that there will invariably be many more disabled people left feeling humiliated and discriminated against – when simply trying to access the remainder of the coastal path only to find the access totally blocked by a series of gates.”
Councillors were shown copies of a reply to Mrs Russell from Alison Roberts, who is the coastal access officer with BCBC.
She stated in her reply that the path was created as part of the Welsh Assembly’s initiative for an all-Wales coast path with sections suitable for the disabled, families with prams, horse riders and cyclists.
The case for creating safer off road horse riding has to be given more consideration and the all Wales Coastal Path can offer this. When the opportunity presented itself I asked other walkers that we met how they felt about sharing the path with horse riders. The reactions generally were positive, although some expressed concern about horse poo. Personally I would prefer to step in horse poo than dog mess any day, and dog mess is a huge problem on the path and I will never understand the selfishness of some dog owners who fail to clean up after their animals
Twice this week we met the urban rangers, what a great job title, that work for Flintshire Local Authority, they were busy clearing the path cutting back the undergrowth. It was also the first time that I had seen the coastal path logo cemented into the pavement, simple but very effective way-marking through the old dockyards, quays and industrial areas that the path goes through in this area
It was great reaching the end of the path at Chester, past the tethered horses and the Welcome to Wales sign and onto the bus to head back to Prestatyn to start the long distance trail of Offas Dyke. This long established path runs from Prestatyn to Sedbury near Chepstow in South Wales
It follows the border with England and is approximately 177 miles long. The best bit is the fact that 35% of the path is open to horse riders exactly the same amount as that available to cyclists, what an impact it would have if 35% of the Welsh coastal path was open to horse riders
The route crosses the Black Mountains, the Shropshire Hills (including the many ups and downs of the ‘Switchback’, for many walkers, myself included, the hardest part of the walk), the Eglwyseg Mountains Near Llangollen and the Clwydian Range
It passes through, or close to, the towns of Dyserth, Bodfari, Clwyd gate,Llanegla,Llangollen,Montgomery,Knighton,Kington,Hay On Wye, Abergravenny, Monmouth and Chepstow
The half-way point of this walk is marked by the Offa’s Dyke Centre in Knighton, where unfortunately, we had to make an unscheduled stopover of two days as Jaycee was ill after eating a ham bone, poor girl was sick with diarrhoea and too ill to walk
Offas Dyke provides fantastic walking through varied countryside, mountains, moorlands, woods and fields and lots and lots of hills but finding places to free camp with the van was a lot harder than it had been on the coastal path. The logistics of public transport and parking was also difficult so there was more hitch hiking than I would have liked but it was necessary
I also had a really unpleasant experience while parked at a disused quarry near Llanferres, about 9pm one evening I had just taken Jaycee out for her walk before bed when a four wheel drive jeep pulled in, its occupants were five young males, and most were clutching beer cans which immediately worried me. Then four of them came up very close behind me while the fifth was asking me about some horse gear,(he had read the sign writing on the van) he wanted to buy, without warning Jaycee suddenly appeared from no-where barking and snarling at them. Not surprisingly they all backed off, got back in their jeep and took off.
Before they had turned up I had put her back in the van cab but had left the door open and she must have sensed my anxiety, she is such a clever girl and when it comes to defending me from herds of curious cattle or drunken late night visitors,completely fearless too
The next morning, at the same place, I had another unsettling encounter with a bin man collecting rubbish in the area, he made comments that suggested that he knew about the five lads the night before and his general attitude made feel very uneasy so I was glad to leave there
One of the weekly chores was getting water for the van and it was not always straightforward, it often involved an hour spent filling small bottles in public toilets and transferring to the larger containers on the van, the sinks and taps in public toilets are rarely designed to allow anything but a small bottle to be filled up and not many of them have an outside tap. Again, this had been easier to do on the coastal path as there seemed to be more public toilets near the coast, although wherever I did it , I got very strange looks from people
My big walk of 1047 miles around Wales took place because I want to ride a horse along the same route and needed to see how viable it was, what do you think? Contact Me Here