Dartmoor National Park Authority, the UK-based government agency responsible for the administration of Dartmoor National Park in Devon, England, has announced the phasing out of stiles by landowners and farmers in the area.
Dartmoor National Park covers around 363sq miles of moorland with exposed granite hilltops. In a new guidance, the park authority has asked owners of properties in the Dartmoor National Park Area to replace stiles, or traditional wooden steps across boundary walls, with gates and gaps, to provide access for everyone.
A report by the authority stated that ‘Stiles will only be considered in exceptional circumstances, where for example, installing a gate would not be practical or possible due to gradients or ground conditions.’
Dartmoor National Park offers around 450 miles of easy and more adventurous pathways for countryside hikes, which are dotted with stiles to provide access across obstacles.
The new guidance encourages landowners to replace, wherever possible, stiles with more permanent access for walkers travelling the pathways, but gates can still be used where livestock are a factor.
According to the Independent newspaper, the report continues by saying, ‘Many people, such as those with limited mobility and families with pushchairs, find path structures, particularly stiles, a barrier to gaining access to and enjoying the countryside.’
The Dartmoor National Park Authority is partnering with Dartmoor For All, a UK-based non-profit organisation, in offering equal access to the park for people who are disabled, less mobile or have young children.
The Countryside Alliance, which represents the views of country dwellers, has asked that changes be ‘implemented sensibly.’