Peak & Northern Footpaths Society (est.1894)

The ‘Inaugural Really Rustic Award’

Andy Leader, Footpath Inspector for Holme Valley in Kirklees

This article is from Signpost 56, February 2018

It gives me no pleasure at all to make the very first Really Rustic Award to the work carried out on Holmfirth Footpath 8.

The lovely Holmfirth Footpath 8 across open fields from Honley to Oldfield has very recently been fenced in by hefty stock fencing which includes barbed wire. Many of the timber posts which are already treated with a preservative have been liberally “painted” with a tar like substance. The grass surface of the footpath appears to have been treated with an herbicide turning the earth to mud. It’s not exactly a joy to behold on a walk over the fields and I wondered if it might be some kind of state funded modern art “installation” until I came across a sign which seemed to have been written by a “guardian” of the countryside explaining that the fence had gone up to protect the grass from being flattened, protect the public from cows and protect cows from neospora, a bacteria that can cause abortions in cattle. Neospora can be found in dog poo so it is imperative that dog owners always clean up after their dogs on farmland. There are no excuses for not doing so or for letting Rover run all over the place. Keep him on a lead.

Farm dogs also carry the bacteria of course along with wild animals such as foxes. Farm hygiene is essential for preventing the disease, especially at calving time when it is crucial to dispose of placental membranes or dead calves before farm dogs or foxes come into contact with them. Storing cattle food away from dogs and foxes is important too. There are several other diseases that cause cattle to abort (e.g. BVD and Leptospirosis) which are not related to dogs. It would be all too easy to blame the public though and I can’t help but feel that’s what’s going on here.

Fencing in a path which has been open for hundreds of years and predates modern agricultural practices and land enclosures seems a churlish thing to do on the face of it. It’s clearly spoilt the public enjoyment and amenity of the path and ruined the surface already. No doubt it will lead to requests from the public for some hard surfacing as it will be a mud bath in winter. Remember the taxpaying public support British farming to the tune of three billion pounds per year. And many of us when we’re not working to pay taxes like a walk in the countryside which we support. Preferably unspoilt by those we fund to farm it.

Andy Leader is a member of the Society and an inspector for Holme Valley in Kirklees. He is also a former Rights of Way Officer. The article below is reproduced from his blog, Pathwatch (, which is well worth a read.

Next: Footpath Protection Can Take Time

Page title:The ‘Inaugural Really Rustic Award’
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