Destruction in the countryside

They come at the dead of night, creeping in on big fat tyres via a feeder lane, far from sleeping ears.

They rip down the fence, ignore polite signage and then open up the throttle. They’re going for it. The more the mud the merrier.

Oh what larks, churning up the wide banks of an ancient trackway. What fun they have, roaring up and down in the middle of nowhere for an hour or so and then heading back to Salway Ash and other places not far from here. Their vehicles give them away, parked brazenly at the side of the roads in front of their houses, the earth from Common Water Lane dripping from their wheel arches.

This is part of the pre-Roman Wessex Ridgeway, a route used for centuries by a variety of users. It’s still a highway: unclassified but still a highway. It’s used by farmers going to and from their fields. It’s a favourite of walkers and riders and, increasingly, the 4×4 brigade who get a thrill out of destroying would-be plants and flowers, that are now terrified to emerge.

You can listen to the Ridgeway’s stories here.

But not for this part of the route campions, ox-eye daisies and dead nettles in the months to come. Spring will find it hard to get a foothold in these deep fissures.

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  1. So good that you’ve highlighted this problem. It is ruining these ancient tracks and it seems impossible to sort the situation out. Could you send this to the Rights of Way department in Dorchester and I’ll ring the British Horse Society and ask for their advice, I’ll also ask their West Dorset representative. I know the track from Coltleigh to the Hook road and the old track from Loscombe to Poorton suffers from this, but which are the ones near you that are being damaged? I feel a mission coming on!


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