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Concern over Cumbria millionaire’s woodland path restrictions

Residents have organised a meeting to discuss restrictions imposed on footpaths through Hayton Wood, near Brampton.

Philip Day photo
Philip Day

Artist and photographer Tricia Meynell, who has walked in the woods for years, has written a letter which has been circulated to homes in Hayton this week.

The ancient woodland is owned by Philip Day, who lives at Edmond Castle and is chairman and chief executive of the Edinburgh Woollen Mill. He says the closure of the footpaths is to allow the replanting of ancient woodland species in place of non-indigenous species and to accommodate shooting.

The woodland is part of a silvicultural management programme – the science of cultivating forest crops based on the study of the history and general characteristics of trees – assisted by the Forestry Commission.

Ms Meynell said: “it's been used for years by dog walkers, runners, walkers and bird watchers.

“I only found out about the footpath closures after a chance meeting with a gamekeeper.

“The work seems to be moving at a great pace. Over the last few days Mr Day has constructed at least three large pheasant-rearing pens surrounded by electric fencing, at various locations within the woods. The pens are already populated with young birds. Between Sunday and Tuesday of this week some hand written notices have gone up in the woods advising that pheasants have been released and that walkers are requested to use other footpaths.”

Mr Day said: “The components that have not had a chance to succeed, and to some degree have been stunted, are the iconic ground flora species associated with ancient woodland sites.

“These include wood anemone and wood sorrel, both of which have been severely impeded due to the high frequency of pedestrian traffic over the majority of the area. There are also areas where young trees are being inadvertently trampled and these are vital to ensuring that the native woodland species are present to create a woodland element in the landscape for future generations.

"Where fences have not been maintained and have been in poor repair, these will be put back into place to ensure the crop is secure. It is the intention to shoot on the whole estate and, on particular dates, certain walks will be closed due to health and safety reasons.”

Mr Day said he will work with Hayton parish council to make sure that the correct information is being given to all residents.

A meeting takes place in Hayton Reading Rooms at 7pm on Wednesday. To express an opinion email Ken Hind, Hayton parish council clerk on and Don Jackson, chairman, on

Have your say

Just though that we would take a walk on a lovely Autumn day, all we can hear is the sound of shotguns blasting right across the valley by the Gelt River... how is this o.k?

Posted by Lewis Grey on 19 November 2010 at 11:05

I love it when land owners wax lyrical about the 'wood sorrel and wood anenome'. It's like the Somme in some parts of the wood now that the tracks have been widened and the machines have had their way. Poor little wood sorrel didn't stand a chance. I think Mr Day will have to try much harder to establish his environmental credentials. PS. Well done, you've managed to alienate a whole community in a few short weeks.

Posted by Steve Martin on 16 November 2010 at 18:50

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