With low cloud shrouding the North York Moors I had to dig into my bank of “bad weather” ideas. Earlier this year I recalled seeing a large new sandstone “PRIVATE NO ACCESS” sign which I thought a bit over the top. So I headed for Kempswithen, the site of a 18th-century agricultural experiment but now under intensive management for grouse shooting. But the stone had disappeared, or had my navigation let me down. A hardcore base suggests it could have been here. Instead, there was a new small sign:


Now, no bikes I can understand, no dogs too but no footpath! Technically it’s probably correct but this is Open Access Land over which we have the freedom to roam. Clearly, it is intended to intimidate walkers into keeping away.

On the way back I took in Percy Rigg over Kildale Moor and came across the missing sandstone “PRIVATE NO ACCESS” sign. Or its twin. Maybe I’m not going doolally after all. I just had to take a photo in case it moves again. Way over the top. The siting of this stone is actually on the boundary of Open Access Land which is to the right in the photo below. To its left is a small area of heather moorland which somehow escaped Open Access designation. An anomaly. Either way, the intention is clearly to discourage walkers from enjoying their freedom to roam. They’re a red rag to a bull to me.

No footpath sign, Kildale Moor

Kempswithen map

Lord Stones Country Park

Open access land. Land supposedly designated under the The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 giving the public a right of access to wander. But access at the Lord Stones Country Park is slowly being constricted by a maze of fencing. Large areas have been enclosed with no stiles or gates provided. No explanation given. This gap into the yurts field has been sealed off with a double fence enclosing a hedge.

The park was created in the late 1980s subject to a range of constraints to preserve the beauty and character of the area. Since then commercialisation has slowly wormed into this character. Next month (19 January 2017) there is a presentation to the National Park to further commercialise the site. Camping pods, additional lighting, a hot tub, a mobile kiosk, a tent/canopy for Friday night BBQs, weddings, ‘flexibility’ of restaurant opening hours, car park gates for the public car park and ‘flexibility’ in the sale of goods. All very ominous.