Walkers express disappointment as Wigan woodland is blocked off

A landowner is in dispute with local walkers after paths through woodland in Wigan were suddenly blocked off.

Friday, 3rd August 2018, 4:45 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd August 2018, 4:53 pm
Michael Hurst at the section of Porter's Wood which has been fenced off

A gate, barbed wire and notices warning of patrolling protection dogs have appeared in Porter’s Wood in Kitt Green.

Signs explained the private landowner has taken the step to restrict access after Network Rail barred anyone using a level crossing nearby.

Security patrols in the area have been beefed up and it has also been suggested that some angry walkers have tried taking the law into their own hands, with notices warning that damage and vandalism of the fences has already been reported to the police.

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One sign at the location said: “The owners have taken the decision to protect against trespassers by increasing the security protecting the woodland.No public right of way does or has ever existed - Please respect the owners’ legal rights.”

Train bosses have also emphasised the public has no right to get onto the railway line in the green space.

A spokesperson for Network Rail said: “There is no public right of way over the Ackhurst level crossing, as the previous private authorised user’s access rights were terminated in agreement with Network Rail.

“Keeping people safe is our absolute priority. This is why the crossing has been permanently closed unless a user or landowner is able to supply evidence that they have a right to cross at this location.”

However, the move has been greeted with frustration by some of those who frequently visit the area.

Michael Hurst, who lives on Spring Road, said: “The wood is a regular walking venue. It’s been used by the public as a footpath for donkey’s years.

“Lots of people go there and children play over there.”

Residents have contacted Wigan Council but the town hall said it could not get involved as it is private land.