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Newtown St. Boswells Scotland

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Information on the village of Newtown St. Boswells in Scotland.

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click to enlarge Do you want to have River bank path access between Newtown - Leaderfoot bridge ?, Scottish Borders
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Do you want to have River bank path access between Newtown - Leaderfoot bridge ?

Omission of river bank path Monksford to Leaderfoot Bridge form Core Path Plan - Objection 125(2)

The local community object that this route is not included in the draft Core Path plan for following reasons :-

Local people have walked along the river bank through Ravenswood Estate for many generations however in recent years the path section from Monksford House to Old Melrose (approx. 0.25 mile) has suffered from a lack of maintenance and is blocked with fallen trees and two small bridges which need restoring/replacing. As the path has deteriorated an alternative route immediately on the river bank has been used but a short distance (approximately 25yds) is now extremely difficult to pass since the bank has been eroded by the river and is also badly over grown. This situation has resulted in preventing most people walking the river bank to Old Melrose, Leaderfoot Bridge and on further to Melrose. The path in question has been shown on OS maps for many years, see attachment CC1.

For at least five years local people living in the Boswells have requested assistance from the landowner and SBC to improve this short distance of path and various attempts were made to open discussion with the landowner in 2004 but it was soon clear that the owner had no wish to improve access or give permission for the path to be restored.

A meeting took place in 2005 (Scottish Borders Council Access Officer & Roger French) with the landowner, William Younger, who confirmed he did not wish path to be restored and gave the reason that it would interfere with the fishing business and it was possible that a new house might be built at Old Melrose so that he did not wish to encourage more people to walk in the area.

However subsequently it was seen that the house, measured from OS map, was over 500 ft from the river bank and stands well back on top of a high bank behind trees and cannot be seen.

With respect to possible disturbance of fishing the Bemersyde river bank opposite is also a prime fishing site but the owner, the late Earl Haig, has allowed full access to the public for many years and has also provided footpaths. Similarly on the neighbouring Monksford and Mertoun Estates the public has full access to the river bank paths and other prime fishing stretches on the Tweed river such as the famous ‘junction pool’ at Kelso are not disturbed by the public having close access.

The community submitted three suggested alternative path routes to SBC but were advised that the request for better access would be put ‘on ice’ until the Core Path network plan was compiled because of no agreement with landowner. However some three years later when the first draft Core Path Network plan was seen the path was shown as an ‘aspirational path’ which is unclear since local people have been asking the SBC for help to restore the path for many years. After such a long time expectations were that it should be well pass an ‘aspirational.’ stage and would seriously be considered to become a part of the Core Path network. However when the final draft Core Path plan was published the path had been removed completely and a reason given was because of the amount of work could not be completed in the time available etc. The community had been waiting over five years for SBC and landowners help with this path but to no avail.

Frustratingly no information about meetings with landowner, surveys, work assessment, costs or have been provided by SBC and it is difficult to understand how the path can be left out of the Core Path Plan due to :- “must be completed in two years, satisfactory survey, landowner agreement, available resources and feasibility of construction works, see copy of SBC letter attachment CC5.

On the question of resources the amount of work involved would obviously depend on the path route ultimately chosen however it is estimated that it could be measured in weeks or months not years to complete. If sufficient funds are not available the community would be keen to apply for a Lottery or similar type grant to complete the work.

From the community point of view little appears to have been done by SBC in gaining an agreement with landowner so that the three suggested, or other path routes, could be investigated further. It is thought that this is why during the later stage of the Core Path consultation the community were advised by the landowner that he believed that SBC had ’ no inclination to assist local people with access ‘.

Local people are aware that the landowner has gained planning approval for a major house extension at Old Melrose which is now completed and there is concern that this may strengthen his wish not encourage public access. However it is felt that bearing in mind the distance from the river bank to the house there is ample space for a discreet path without encroachment of the house privacy in any way.

It was understood that a priority in forming the Core Path network was to take into account the wishes of the local community and this objection is because for more than five years neither the landowner or the SBC seem not to have listened or taken action to meet the community wishes.

The local community is keen to have further discussions with the landowner but it is felt that SBC support is also crucial and the Core path classification is important on this highly valued path.

Collection of Community views

People’s views have been collected at Village Community Council meetings, by Community Council members during day to day contact with villagers, during community open days and walk-in surgeries, during village development consultation sessions, collected during the 3 year Core Path consultation period and from Path Group walks and meetings. The Village Community Council also carries out path maintenance and this is a good source of comments/views from local people using the paths.

People and their families want to have the ability to walk along side the river through Ravenswood and on to the viewing point at Learderfoot Railway Viaduct and also to the Trimontium area. Others wish to walk further on along the river to Melrose and then over the Eildon Hills and back to the Boswells.

As well as using the path to get from A to B some simply wish to visit the area for it’s scenic beauty passing beneath Scott’s View, on opposite side of the river, with it’s interesting selection of matured trees, many varieties of wild flowers and in the winter outstanding banks of snowdrops which are treasured by all who pass through.

People wish to have access since it is one of the few, or only, length of river bank without public access between the river source at Tweeds Well to where the river leaves the Borders Region in Coldstream. It has also been mentioned that there is no other way to walk up the river bank since the cliffs on the opposite side of river are both impassable at river level and also over the top of cliff at Scott’s View.

Lastly, many ‘non walking’ local people felt strongly about having access along the river bank in question so that it could be used by their children/grand children and future generations

Submitted to Core Path Hearing by Roger French on behalf of Community Council & local community - 2009-08-06

Please contact me if you support this case and any info. about past usage of path through Ravenswood would be helpful - my address Email - Roger@rgfrench.plus.com

Do you want to have River bank path access between Newtown - Leaderfoot bridge ?, Scotland