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Riverside footpath re-opens

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Villagers are being urged to use a newly-opened section of footpath that was closed to the public for 50 years.

The path alongside the River Trent at North Muskham was unblocked after a ten-year campaign that proved the path was a public right of way.

A section was blocked by two fences that extended to the river either side of Trent Farm, owned by Newark businessman Mr Ryan Parker.

The fences have been removed, allowing people to walk from Muskham Ferry pub to the Lake View development.

A public inquiry confirmed the existence of an old carriage road. The road, Ferry Road, ran beside the river from the old ferry crossing near the Muskham Ferry to Manor House Drive.

Evidence for another road called Trent Ford Road was also confirmed.

It was used as a route across the river to nearby Holme, beginning at the top of Main Street near a house known as The Shades and joining Ferry Road at a ford.

Evidence was presented at the inquiry by Nottinghamshire County Council and Mr Jim Wishart, a North Muskham resident, who represented the village.

Mr Wishart, of Main Street, produced maps and other evidence showing the path had been used as a highway. This included photographs of cars parked on the route as late as the 1980s.

The issue over access was raised when a villager, Mrs Anne Heathcote, applied 12 years ago to claim a public right of way from Muskham Ferry to Cromwell Lock.

It followed an unsuccessful campaign in the 1980s, when Trent Farm was owned by Mr Bob Beard, a former district councillor.

The path was first blocked in 1958 when the Dunn family, who owned Manor House Farm, put up a fence preventing people walking north of Trent Farm on to their land, now the Lake View development.

Seven years before, North Muskham Parish Council had failed to claim the path as a public right of way under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act.

The path should finally be given legal status as a public footpath by Newark Magistrates’ Court next month.

Any valid objections will result in the case being taken to the High Court in London.

The history of the dispute was explained at a public presentation, in the village hall, attended by about 90 residents.

The event was organised by Mr Wishart, who encouraged villagers to walk the path and help to keep it clear.

He also put forward the possibility of a community-based group to research the history of the Muskham Vale area beside the River Trent.

“It would be nice to get more of a community atmosphere and spirit in the village. There were people at the presentation I hadn’t met before and it would be a good way of getting people who are new to the village involved,” Mr Wishart said.

There are also plans to work with landowners north of the village to open the footpath all the way to Cromwell Lock.

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