Sunday, 27 April 2008

Dartmoor: Fight for Freedom on Vixen Tor

Vixen Tor. Lonely in the mist.
Vixen Tor. Lonely in the mist
Excellent turnout for the Vixen Tor Demo; over 200 ramblers packed the Pork Hill car park in Dartmoor National Park. There was a short speech from Kate Ashbrook of the Ramblers Association, thanking everyone for coming and outlining where the fight to restore access lies. Then, we headed off, into the mist, to the boundary walls of the field where Vixen Tor sits.

The crowd approach Vixen Tor to protest in April 2008
The crowd approach Vixen Tor to protest in April 2008
No Public Access to Vixen Tor.
No Public Access to Vixen Tor
A great shame we cannot wander around this imposing tor, once a great place for climbers to hone their skills. There was a mention of trespassing, which raised my hopes, but it wasn't taken seriously, the mood was peaceful and the crowd were more likely to break out the jam and scones than break into the enclosure!

Vixen Tor. Forbidden
Vixen Tor. Forbidden.
Good spirited crowd, but the show of strength did little to change the situation.
Good spirited crowd, but the show of strength did little to change the situation.
The latest on the battle is that the Ramblers have lodged a series of Rights of Way claims, presented to Devon County Council, last week. The council have promised to look into it, but an outcome wouldn't be expected for at least 12 months. We'll just have to wait!

The crowd gather for speeches by the Ramblers Association
The crowd gathered for speeches.
Would have loved to have stayed to do one of the many walks on offer once the point had been made, but unfortunately, I had a long drive home!

Vixen Tor, surrounded by barbed wire.
Surrounded by barbed wire
A good crowd for the protest calling for Vixen Tor access
A good crowd
UPDATE
In March 2009, we all had high hopes a corner was turned when Devon County Council recommended two rights of way across the land. However, it could not be proved that the paths had been used frequently, despite 59 people supplying evidence, and the decision went in favour of the landowner in September 2011.

Since the decision, all has gone quiet on the matter. I hope the fight hasn't been lost, and that work is afoot behind the scenes, but it does seem as though no further action is being taken. For more information on the history of Vixen Tor, and some details of the dodgy evidence that went against the campaign, visit Legendary Dartmoor.

For more on the demo, go to the BBC website here.