RAMBLERS Scotland wants urgent action to re-open an important path linking two Cowdenbeath and Lochgelly that has been blocked using locks, fencing, anti-theft paint and four-inch nails.
Fife Council has designated the route as a ‘core path’ – meaning it is one the area’s most important routes; open to all walkers, runners, cyclists and horse-riders.
Yet since last summer, a gate has been locked where the track passes near to Newton farm, southwest of Lochgelly – contravening Scottish access rights.
The blockage has since been further reinforced using high wooden fencing, black anti-theft paint and nails.
Several local Ramblers Scotland groups regularly use the path and have reported the issue to Fife Council, which is trying to resolve the problem. Meanwhile, the path remains blocked.
Elaine Collins, a member of Kirkcaldy Ramblers, said: “It’s an obvious, useful route between two communities and walkers have always gone that way, so it was a shock when we first discovered it had been blocked last summer.
“We want urgent action to fix the problem, which is making it harder for people to get out and about in our area on foot – and enjoy all the health and social benefits that brings.”
Chris Mercer, from Cardenden, had a bad fall while crossing fences to get around the blockade while out walking last summer.
Mrs Mercer said: “I landed awkwardly. I was in agony and couldn't continue on our planned walk, so I ended up hobbling to the bus stop about 20 minutes away.
“I visited my doctor after the fall and in February this year I needed to have a hip replacement. I might have needed a hip replacement at some point anyway, but I feel this incident could have been avoided and that it accelerated the need to operate.”
Brendan Paddy, Ramblers Scotland director, said: “Core paths offer vital links between communities across Scotland, so it is imperative that they are kept open for all to enjoy.
“We hope that whoever created the barricade will realise that they are breaking the law, and will remove the obstruction.
“The issue has dragged on for too long, and we support Fife Council in any action it can take to fix the problem as soon as possible. It’s a great shame that public resources and legal action are required, simply to uphold Scottish access legislation.”