The Chapmanslade Parish Council meeting planned for June 9th 2022 has been cancelled. The next meeting of the council will take place on 14th July 2022.
Following several requests regarding the fence that has appeared along the footpath above Black Dog Woods the following from the Chair of the Council explains the situation:
I regret to inform you that the owner of the woods, Longleat Estates, have taken the decision to fence off the route along the public right of way (Chapmanslade footpath 1) but not as yet elsewhere in the woods. They are able to do this as the owners of this private commercial woodland within which there are no recognized rights of way and, which therefore are not subject to any relaxations under the right to roam.
Longleat’s rationale was based around the increased footfall since the COVID lockdowns, and in particular the activities of mountain bikers that have caused some damage to the woodland floor. Nationally human access is considered a spreader of some diseases in trees, and Black Dog Woods are suffering from ash die-back. There will also be some woodland management taking place near the footpath and I’m sure you will have seen the trees marked with red spots which are for clearing; prior to the fence this area was marked with signs which were thrown aside and ignored by walkers and bikers.
Chapmanslade Parish Council discussed the move by Longleat Estate in its May meeting and decided not to challenge what are clearly the legal rights of the landowner. I am unable therefore to offer you advice about alternative access as this would breach the landowner’s rights regarding his property.
As a fellow walker and lover of Black Dog Woods I can only empathise.