I’ve recently become interested in the disappearance of a number of paths, route, common ‘highways’ in the Wetherby area.

There are 3 inparticular that I am greatly concerned over.

1. The keep out, patrol dogs, barb-wired and an electric gate across a section of Flintmill Lane and Leys Lane route along the river between the Sewerage Works, The Flint Mill and Thorp Arch Park to the East, and downstream of the Wharfe and on the South Bank of the River at The Leys.
2. The disappearence of the footpath that continued west from Saint George’s Field to Linton/Collingham Bridge, to the South of the Linton Golf Course, along the North Bank of the Wharfe.
3. The barrier, padlocked gate at the top of Old Boston Road between Boston Spa, Grange Park, Micklethaite and Wetherby to the South of the original round-about.

I have in the last few weeks begun to ponder how these changes have occurred without local opposition to the alterations of the routes.

I have begun an exhaustive search through archival records, internet sources and used some anacdotal evidence to help me delve deeper.

Most recently I have contacted the Ramblers Association to get some advice as to how footpaths, etc., are regulated. The Campaigns Administrator, Emily Shaw, sent me this reply:

“Dear Daniel,

Thank you for your email.

Firstly, I would suggest going to the rights of way team at the highway
authority (county council or unitary) to see if this path is a public
right of way. This can be done by checking the definitive map which is
the legal record of public rights of way.

If it is then the highway authority would have had to ensure the
footpath is reinstated.

Alternatively, If a path has been used by the public, without
interruption, for 20 years a right of way may well have come into
existence. You can make an application to the highway authority to have
the path added to the definitive map based on user evidence. All you
need is to get at least 7 people (preferably more) who have used the
path during the 20-year period to fill in a ‘user evidence’ form. The
rights of way team at the highway authority should provide all the
information required to make the application. Further information on
this process is also available from the Ramblers website

Please see our website for more information on footpath law.

Kind Regards
Emily Shaw
Campaigns Administrator”

In the Wetherby Library tonight, 22nd Nov, I was looking at some old OS maps to see if there were any clear routes marked in all the cases I am looking into.
Clearly on the maps from the 50’s and the 60’s I found evidence of the raised embanked path that ran along from Saint George’s Field in the bottom south western running to Collingham/Linton Bridge.

From the OS sections 1961(revised) PLAN SE 3847 & SE 3947
PLAN SE 3848 & SE 3948
Sheet SE 44NW from the early 1950’s I can clearly demonstrate the route along the riverside and also closer to date the route is highlighted on the plan from 1980 to develop(open-up) Wetheby for the masses…

Although there maybe was some legitimate process the Golf Course took to change the designation of the strip of path that ran along the bank this is improbable as no one I have so far discussed this with at the Wetherby News have any knowledge this path existed at all.

Living in this town from the sleepy 1970’s until the frantic 2010’s has led to a collosal change in the physical make up of the landscape, but at what cost and to whose benefit?

From the sky, with Google Earth, the full scale of changes to access to the bottom end of Flint Mill Lane on the North Bank and Leys Lane on the South Bank becomes apparent. Also I have tracked down the recent property development records at Leeds City Council( and it seems than there have been no challenges to the changes taking place at that locale. For Instance much of the work on the Flint Mill appears to have been completed and then posumously/retrospectively approved by the planning department…

**Retrospective Listed Building application for alterations to form raised conservatory and balcony over part of side and repositioned entrance doors to front

Ref. No: 08/01412/LI | Status: Application Approved**

**Retrospective application for alterations to form raised conservatory and balcony over part of side and repositioned entrance doors to front

Ref. No: 08/01417/FU | Status: Application Approved**

The most unbelieveable aspect of the property development are the numerous features added without question to the natural river landscape. Now present are a Pond/Lake, a Gazebo and a major bridge over the Wharfe – a bridge referred to as an ‘Agricultural Access Bridge’. The river must be atleast 100yards across at that bend between Wray Wood Farm and the Flint Mill so how did this monster of a bridge get built in the blink of an eye (the one running from Micklethaite to Wetherby took thousands of years and was only made to the current proportions in 1824)?

With all this change to the Flintmill complex(as I am going to call it) there is now no access at all to the path, road, bridleways, etc connecting the back of Thorp Arch Park and Horn Bank along the river. I have again consulted the OS maps in Wetherby Library and it appears that many of the dashed footpath lines used to link up beyond the new gated and obstructed woods that are contained in this ‘secret’ development. A development that has all the hallmarks/feeling of Howard Hughes reclusiveness and I believe that this site was until recently occupied by the deceased multi-millionaire Jimi Heselden. An obituary on the BBC website suggest that he was a great man(…Why would a great man require such secrecy and control of his environment; a great man would share his sanctuary with his other and a great man wouldn’t think of nature’s ‘fish’ as his own unless he controlled the River Wharfe primarily to feed his meglomania?

I hope that I’m not venting too much at the the situation I have found at the bottom of Ley Lane and Flintmill Lane’s

Have we gone privacy potty?

The 'Segway' Secret Garden

As a young boy I used to take my cousins dogs out walking in Boston Spa and we quite often would take them along Old Boston Road and up passed the Gunter Wood, Grange Park and the Wharfe upstream under the fly-over and out past the Police Station on Boston Road. But now, today, we couldn’t approach Grange Park all but had to trundle along a Bridleway(once it used to be for racehorse training) right on top of the current 3 lane A1(M). What ever happened to right to roam and why all these obsticles on what should be a stress free journey from A to B via a spot of quiet and beauty.

Is it time to start challenging these changes to our historic highways and byways ‘Once a highway always a highway’
is a legacy of the United Kingdoms history; fought over from Magna Carte to the Great Reform Act, etc. With the enforcement of the Inclosure Acts amounting to highway class robbery I feel any unjustified control of free space is another modern form of class obstruction.

Tomorrow I speak to the highway authority; I hope I’m not just expanding my spleen…

I traveled through the battering rains and squalid winds at Red Hall to present my concerns to very open and honest and very helpful Leeds City Council: ROWIP depart.

I learnt that I must first read the PIN procedures of the rights of way challenge that was upholder on the side of the Golf Club.

I’ve been considering the reason for a path to exist at all along that fringe. And perhaps from the POV of bringing cattle to market to Wetherby’s weekly cattle market(now vanished) if your farm was in the vicinity of the south shore from Collingham to Harewood the most direct route would take you over the Wharfe by the the ford that once sat where now the bridge(once bridges).

There must’ve existed a route from the time when Wetherby got its market charter in 1250 until I last used it in 1999 when I took Ben Marr to the Windmill, Old Star, Half Moon before coming back. Apart from when the river is in flood, or high, the Wharfe behind Stammersgate is the logical crossing point as it is the point where the ravine drops back from Linton Common and becomes a flat ‘Ings’ for bringing cattle to market.

At some point in history Wetherby race course also was in this vicinity and probably logically for the same reason? Bringing your horses to a central and flat area before the A1 or combustion engines existed.
Why does the railway, Collingham station all congregate in this area?


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