IT IS VERY true that we all need to be very vigilant in protecting our ‘rights of way’ in town and countryside (Letters, May 18, 2017).

We in Wiltshire and around, and indeed throughout the country, are able to enjoy a wonderful network of footpaths and tracks, frequently with marvellous scenery, picturesque villages and all types of walking terrain.

Usually these are kept clear and reasonably well maintained, but there is no doubt that from time to time some landowners may try to prevent or restrict access illegally, without proper consultation, or just thoughtlessly graze livestock dangerously. Whilst other anti-social individuals will despoil footpaths with fly-tipping and vandalism.

All walkers can take positive action by promptly reporting such incidents to the council’s Footpath Wardens via the ‘My Wiltshire’ website or by telephone, or by demanding action from their local town and parish councils. Also, footpaths which are not featured on the definitive maps will be lost forever if not registered by 2026. Don’t just whine, do something about it when you come across a problem.

We in The Ramblers do our bit in ‘protecting where we walk’ throughout Britain. In South Wilts we organise three to six walks a week throughout the year, within 20 miles of Salisbury, for all levels of fitness and usually with 20 to 40 ramblers. As a group we are quick to spot infringements and report them to the council’s highways team. We also have two work teams of volunteers, led by our Footpath Secretaries, who liaise with the local Footpath Wardens and support them in their work. Voluntarily, they get out there and help by repairing, replacing, installing or maintaining stiles, kissing gates, footbridges, steps and boardwalks, and clearing undergrowth, to the benefit of all walkers and also to assist the farming community. A number of Parish Councils have also set up their own work teams, some with the help of our own work gangs.

With this in mind, ‘The Ramblers’ association actively lobbies the government to ensure that farmers and other landowners are given incentives to protect the countryside, improve habitats for flora and fauna and, indeed, maintain and protect our rights of way for the general public. These incentives must also be protected in any forthcoming negotiations on the nation’s exit from the EEC. All are welcomed to join local Ramblers’ groups in this endeavour, whilst enjoying healthy exercise, good company, social activities and supporting local hostelries! Our Walks’ Programmes can be found in local libraries, tourist information offices, certain ‘outdoor’ retailers, and on the South Wilts Ramblers website.

John Foskett Chairman, South Wilts Ramblers