How has Clarkson caused offence this time? With a fence...

The Top Gear presenter is at war with neighbours over ancient rights of way bordering his Isle of Man home. Tom Peck on a six-year feud

Barbed wire, dead sheep, militant dog walkers and Jeremy Clarkson. Together these elements form the biggest brouhaha on the otherwise tranquil Isle of Man since the days when a young Nigel Mansell patrolled the cliff tops in his Special Constable's uniform.

The news that wire fencing and gate posts have been uprooted from the perimeter of Jeremy Clarkson's holiday home on the Langness Peninsula, and unceremoniously hurled into the sea, is merely the latest agitation in a lengthy battle that has pitched the Isle of Man's rambling community against the Top Gear presenter – a man not celebrated for his love of walking.

"Mindless bloody idiots," is what Mr Clarkson's wife, Frances, has branded those who uprooted the fence, who remain at large.

The row centres on a 230-metre stretch of footpath past the Clarkson's estate, which the couple have on several occasions attempted to fence off since they purchased the holiday home in 2005.

Some claim the footpath is a public right of way. Enter Prowl, or "Public Rights of Way – Langness", a pressure group on the island who have campaigned for access to the pathway to be reopened, affording passers-by an unrestricted view into the Clarkson kitchen and, as the presenter has complained, the opportunity to "actually see me standing in my garden and point at me".

It may be that the opportunity to do just that is in fact boosting tourism on the island. Ian Costain, a spokesman for Prowl, said: "If he weren't such a key personality the matter would have been solved some years ago, but some people are uncertain about upsetting him."

Upset, however, he most certainly is. "The whole point of buying a house on the end of a peninsula is so that you get five minutes not being bothered. When you are in the public eye it's very easy to be portrayed as a villain. Actually, in this case, I'm not," Mr Clarkson said in 2008.

The couple released a statement yesterday which said: "We have been shocked and greatly saddened by the recent acts of criminal damage on our land. Whoever ripped up the fence posts and gate protecting the cliff edge ... clearly had no thought for the safety of others.

"We don't want to comment on the ongoing court case. But we would say to those who have again targeted our home at beautiful Langness: please, just stop this right now."

Last year, an inquiry concluded that the presenter had been wrong to reroute the footpath. Despite not being a legal right of way, previous landowners had historically granted "permissive rights" to walkers. It was during the course of this inquiry that Mr Clarkson branded Prowl and its supporters "very unpleasant militant dog walkers" who thought they had "a god-given right to trample on somebody's garden wherever they want".

Mrs Clarkson said the couple were appealing against the ruling. But according to Prowl, the case is open and closed, and its impending day in the High Court merely concerns the publication of the new definitive map of footpaths. "As the deemster [Manx for judge] concluded at the time, 'there will be no second bite at the evidential cherry'," the group said.

A police spokesperson, however, said that "no final decisions in relation to access rights have currently been made." A spokseman for the Clarksons also said the matter remains before the High Court.

Should the footpath be reopened it might also be bad news for the Langness Peninsula's unfortunate sheep, some of which Mr Clarkson claims have been chased into the sea by unleashed dogs.

Should the High Court force the Clarksons to reopen the footpath, Mr Costain says the presenter will have to "take down the barbed wire and replace the kissing gates that were removed".

However, Mr Clarkson has promised to sell the property if he is forced to remove the fencing and gates, and many on the island would be sorry to see him go. "There are plenty of people here who have a lot of time for him, and who would take his side," Mr Costain says.

Other celebrity land disputes

* The torching of a pleasure boat belonging to Cameron Mackintosh in February marked a flamboyant escalation in a 13-year dispute over land rights on the theatre impresario's 14,000-acre estate in the Scottish Highlands. Mr Mackintosh wants to build holiday homes and a woodland project on a 25-acre sliver of the property, but one of his elderly tenants, an 87-year-old crofter, uses the land for grazing animals. "I may have been in dispute with the man, but I have not been burning his boat," the tenant said.

* Two prize stags were shot dead and left on the doorstep of entrepreneur and restaurateur Richard Caring's private Exmoor lodge, a few weeks before someone took a pot shot at the letterbox of Daily Mail columnist Liz Jones.

* Film director Guy Ritchie recently had his £6m Fitzroy Square home in London taken over by squatters. "Legal warning. Take notice... that we live in this house, it is our home and we intend to stay here," the group, who called themselves The Really Free School, posted in a note on the door. Despite taking their case to court, they were evicted after four days.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?