Walkers have been battling for decades to have the route declared a public footpath

Walkers have been battling for decades to have the route declared a public footpath

Walking campaigners are celebrating victory in an 18-year battle over a public footpath.

Suffolk Ramblers have been fighting to reopen a blocked and impassable footpath in Suffolk for almost two decades.

A Government inspector ruled the path, at Cordell Hall and Purton Green Farm, Stansfield, near Sudbury in Suffolk is a right of way despite landowners’ claims it was a private route.

The kilometre-long path passes through attractive countryside between Stansfield and Depden. Landowners applied in 1993 for the path to be deleted from the definitive map, the official record of rights of way, because it had been included in error.

A public inquiry nine years later found in favour of walkers but the owners gathered further evidence and statements from people who considered it was a private track. A second hearing in March this year was ordered, and an inspector has again ruled that the path is a public right of way.

Adrian Morris, Ramblers head of policy said: “We’re glad, though not surprised, that the inspector has found that this path is public despite the owners’ arguments. We see this as a victory for commonsense and we look forward to learning that the county council has taken steps to open up the path.”

The Ramblers said now becomes Suffolk County Council’s duty to assert the public’s right to use the path, which has been obstructed and impassable for many years.

John Andrews, a former Suffolk resident who led the defence of the path throughout the dispute, said:  “Suffolk Ramblers have been engaged since the 1970s in a long, drawn-out struggle to preserve this footpath and to walk along it without being harassed or challenged.

“It is incredible that we have had to wait for so long, but surely we have now seen the last of a wide variety of attempts to prevent the public from making use of it.”

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