Now Lord Bath bans cyclists from Longleat
First it was the dog walkers banned from strolling through one of the West’s most picturesque estates.
But now cyclists have also been stopped from using the two official cycle routes through Lord Bath’s Longleat estate in Wiltshire, home to the famous safari park.
Staff appear to have taken down the blue signs indicating cycle routes through the estate, and regular cyclists have been told by security guards they can no longer use them. Sustrans, the charity dedicated to sustainable transport, has also confirmed that a legal agreement between the charity and Longleat management appears to have been terminated.
Mike Darville has been cycling through the Wiltshire estate two or three times a week since he moved to Frome, Somerset, more than five years ago. He said: “It is a brilliant route from Frome right the way to Shearwater away from the traffic.”
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However, in the past week he has been stopped and told that he is no longer able to cycle through Longleat.
A ban on cyclists is the latest in the row that has erupted over public access on to the estate. First walkers were told they could not venture onto the estate as they have done for generations without buying a ticket, sparking an appeal from mothers in Frome who want to hold a public meeting to discuss where they can and cannot roam.
Sustrans area manager to Wiltshire, Alistair Millington, confirmed that for many years there had been a legal agreement between Longleat and Sustrans, but although the charity had not been notified it appeared the licence agreement had been terminated and the routes closed.
Mr Millington said: “In theory Longleat is able to give a month’s notice to terminate the agreement but we have not had any notification from them. We are hoping to have discussions with Longleat to find an alternative route but it is an enormous shame that the routes have been closed.”
The two routes were introduced 20 years ago at a launch attended by Lord Bath.
Mr Millington said: “People can remember how enthusiastic Lord Bath was at the time and he even had a go on a bike. He said he was keen to encourage people on to the estate.”
An estate spokesman said a public meeting was being arranged to discuss access but a date has not yet been fixed.