Monday sees the start of the public inquiry into the footpaths around the ruins of the old Bayham Abbey. The well-used paths were closed off and ‘keep out’ signs appeared following the sale of the estate by the previous Marquis of Camden in the mid-1970s. Tunbridge Wells Ramblers Group has been campaigning for over 30 years to have two of the historic paths recognised as public footpaths and ensure that this beauty spot is reopened to the public.
Last year the Secretary of State ruled that there was enough evidence to suggest that the footpaths existed, having been used by the public for many years, and that they should therefore be added to the ‘definitive map’ - a legal record of all public footpaths. However, objections from some of the landowners has led to the public inquiry.
It’s been a brilliant effort by Tunbridge Wells Ramblers, who have been working on and off for this since the mid-1970s and who redoubled their efforts in the 1990s by collecting evidence from a great many older local residents of their use of the paths in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. It was thanks to this that we got to where we are now.
I hope the inquiry goes well next week.
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