Limited access available to country sites

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The Independent Online

This weekend almost every single footpath in Britain is closed, on the basis that walkers might spread foot and mouth disease.

This weekend almost every single footpath in Britain is closed, on the basis that walkers might spread foot and mouth disease.

Closing footpaths has destroyed the tourist industry and caused untold damage to rural businesses. And yet, astonishingly, there is absolutely no evidence that foot and mouth disease can be spread by walkers. Dr Alex Donaldson, head of the Pirbright Laboratory at the Institute of Animal Health, admitted on Friday that the disease was likely to be spread only by people "who had come into close contact with infected animals" - such as the vets who had been handling them.

Jim Scudamore, the Chief Vet, now admits that the risk that even these vets could spread the disease is "quite remote". Privately the Government now admits there is no prospect of opening footpaths in the foreseeable future. Farmers' Union president Ben Gill has gone further, calling for country lanes to be closed in case car tyres splash the disease into puddles. In the meantime footpaths through woods, miles from the nearest source of infection, remain out of bounds. So do footpaths over golf courses, which remain open for play. Presumably the footwear worn by golfers is foot and mouth proof.

Quite clearly hysteria is prevailing over common sense. Traditionally farmers generally have little time for ramblers. They must not be allowed to dictate to the rest of the country. It's time for self-interest to end. The Government should reopen footpaths as a priority and stop bowing to groups of people who already have been promised compensation. If they do not, rural businesses will continue to collapse.

? English Heritage, the National Trust and the Forestry Commission are reopening a number of properties closed in the initial period of the foot and mouth outbreak. Here is the full list:

English Heritage

The following sites open on 1st April.

East of England

Audley End House Park Berkhamsted Castle Berney Arms Windmill Binham Priory Binham Wayside Cross Blakeney Guildhall Bury St Edmunds Abbey Bury St Edmunds Norman Bushmead Priory Castle Acre Bailey Gate Castle Acre Castle Castle Acre Priory Cow Tower, Norwich Creake Abbey De Grey Mausoleum, Flitton Denny Abbey Duxford Chapel Framlingham Castle Greyfriars' Cloisters, Gt Isleham Priory Landguard Fort Leiston Abbey Longthorpe Tower Mistley Towers Moulton Packhorse Bridge North Elmham Chapel Old Merchant's House, Great Orford Castle Row 111 Houses, Gt Yarmouth Saxtead Green Post Mill St Albans Roman Wall St Botolph's Priory St James's Chapel, Lindsay St John's Abbey Gate Thetford Holy Sepulchre Thetford Priory Thetford Warren Lodge Tilbury Fort Waltham Abbey Gatehouse East Midlands

Kirby Muxloe Castle Lyddington Bede House Rushton Triangular Lodge Sibsey Trader Windmill

North East

HW:Vindolanda Fort Prudhoe Castle North West

Bishop's Waltham Palace Calshot Castle

South East

Farnham Castle Keep Fort Brockhurst Hurst Castle Maison Dieu, Ospringe Medieval Merchants House Milton Chantry, Gravesend Temple Manor Upnor Castle Yarmouth Castle

South West

Alexander Keiller Museum, Berry Pomeroy Castle Cleeve Abbey Hailes Abbey Old Sarum Castle Portland Castle

West Midlands

Boscobel House the Royal Buildwas Abbey Haughmond Abbey Leigh Court Barn Wall Roman Site White Ladies Priory

Yorkshire

Aldborough Roman Site Brodsworth Hall Burton Agnes Manor Byland Abbey Kirkham Priory Roche Abbey

National Trust

Cornwall Glendurgan Garden (24th March) Lanhydrock Garden (24th March) Trelissick Garden (24th March) Trengwainton Garden (25th March) Boscastle (31st March) The Old Forge Information Centre and Shop, (31st March) Lanhydrock House (31st March) Old Post Office, Tintagel, (31st March) Cornish Engines (1st April) Lawrence House (6th April) Levant House (6th April)

East Anglia

Anglesey Abbey, Cambs (28th March) Peckover, Cambs (31st March) Houghton Mill, Cambs (8 April) Coggeshall, Essex (1st April) Paycockes, Essex (1st April) Blakeney, Norfolk (31st March) Blickling, Norfolk (31st March) Horsey, Norfolk (31st March) Oxburgh, Norfolk (31st March) Sheringham, Norfolk (31st March) Dunwich, Suffolk (31st March) Lavenham, Suffolk (31st March) Melford Hall, Suffolk (1st April)

East Midlands

Winster Market House, Derbyshire (31st March) Staunton Harold Church, Leicestershire (31st March) Woolsthorpe, Lincolnshire (31st March) Grantham House, Lincolnshire (4th April) Tattershall Castle, Lincolnshire (1st April) Mr Strawÿs House, Nottinghamshire (31st March)

East Sussex

Alfriston Clergy House (31st March) Lamb House (4th April) Monkÿs House (31st March) Sheffield Park Garden (31st March)

Kent

Chartwell (31st March) Emmets (31st March) Quebec House (1st April) Smallhythe Place (31st March) Sissinghurst (31st March)

London Properties

Ham House (31st March) Carlyleÿs House (31st March) Osterley (31st March) Rainham Hall (1st April)

Mercia

Nether Alderley Mill, Cheshire (1st April) Quarry Bank Mill, Cheshire (24th April) Sunnycroft, Shropshire (1st April) Biddulph Grange, Staffordshire (28th March) Moseley Old Hall, Staffordshire (24th March) 20 Forthlin Road, Liverpool (28th March) Speke (28th March) Formby (28th March)

Northumbria

Cherryburn, Northumberland (31st March) Farne Islands, Northumberland (31st March) Gibside, Tyne Wear (24th March) Souter Lighthouse, Tyne Wear (31st March) Washington Old Hall, Tyne Wear (1st April)

North West

BP Gallery Hawkshead, Cumbria (1st April) Wordsworth House, Cumbria (31st March) Rufford Old Hall, Lancashire (31st March) Heysham, Lancashire (13th April)

Severn

Westbury Court Garden, Gloucestershire (24th March) Middle Littleton Tithe Barn, Worcestershire (1st April) Southern

Sandham Memorial Chapel, Hampshire (7th April) The Vyne, Hampshire (7th April) Mottistone Gardens, Isle of Wight (1st April) Old Town Hall, Newtown, Isle of Wight (1st April) Clandon Park, Surrey (8th April) Hatchlands Park, Surrey (1st April) Shalford Mill, Surrey (1st April) Winkworth Arboretum, Surrey (1st April) Oakhurst Cottage, Surrey (13th April) Dapdune Wharf, River Wey (31st March) Uppark, West Sussex (8th April)

Thames and Chilterns

Basildon, Berkshire (31st March) Cliveden, Buckinghamshire (28th March) Garyÿs Monument, Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire (24th March) Long Crendon Courthouse, Buckinghamshire (31st March) Princes Risborough Manor House, Buckinghamshire (1st April) Waddesdon Manor, Buckinghamshire (24th March)

Wessex

Kingston Lacy, Dorset (31st March) Corfe Castle, Dorset (24th March) Clouds Hill, Dorset (1st April) Max Gate, Dorset (1st April) Brownsea Island, Dorset (31st March) Hardy Monument, Dorset (31st March) Barrington Court (29th March) Clevedon Court (1st April) Coleridge Cottage (1st April) Dunster Castle Garden (7th April) King Johnÿs Hunting Lodge, Axbridge (13th April) Montacute (31st March) Treasurers House Martock (1st April) Horton Court (4th April) Lacock Abbey Garden, Wiltshire (31st March) Fox Talbot Museum, shop and car park, Wiltshire (24th March) Stourhead Garden Shop, Wiltshire (24th March) Stourhead House, Plant Centre, Tea Room Alfredÿs Tower, Wiltshire (31st March) Westwood Manor, Wiltshire (1st April) The Courts Holt, Wiltshire (1st April)

Yorkshire

Nostell Priory (31st March) Nunnington Hall (31st March) Treasurerÿs House, York (31st March) Rievaulx Terrace Temples (31st March)

Wales

Penbryn, Ceredigion (31st March) Aberconwy House, Conwy (31st March) Bodnant, Conwy (24th March) Conwy Suspension Bridge, Conwy (31st March) Llwelyn Cottage, Gwynedd (31st March) Penrhyn Castle, Gwynedd (4th April) Segontium, Gwynedd (22nd March) Portdinllaen, Gwynedd (31st March) Aberdulais Falls, Swansea (31st March) Colby Woodland Garden, Pembrokeshire (1st April) Tudor Merchantÿs House, Pembrokeshire (1st April) Freshwater West, Stackpole Estate (24th March) Lodge Park Wood, Stackpole Estate (24th March) Castle Dock Wood, Stackpole Estate (24th March) Bosherston Lily Ponds, Stackpole Estate (24th March) Stackpole Quay Tearooms car park (1st April) Martinÿs Haven car park (1st April)

Forestry Commission

The following woodlands open 24th March

North Yorks Moors (01751 472 771)

Bishop Wood, North Yorkshire Wykeham Forest, North Yorkshire Sherwood Lincs (01623 822 447)

Wharnecliffe, South Yorkshire Matlock Moors, Derbyshire Whitwell, Derbyshire Sherwood Pines, Notts Thieves Wood, Notts Blidworth Wood, Notts Willingham, Lincs Chambers Wood, Lincs Ostlers Wood, Lincs Stapleford Wood, Lincs

West Midlands (01889 586 593)

Delamare Forest, Cheshire

East Anglia (01842 810 271)

Thetford Forest, Norfolk Northants (01780 444 394)

Bourne Wood, Lincs Clipsham Yew Avenue, Lincs Southey Wood, Cambs South East England (01420 236666)

Hodgemoor, Bucks Crowthorne, Berks Alice Holt Woodland Park, Hampshire Queens Enclosure, Hampshire Tilgate Forest, West Sussex Abbots Wood, East Sussex Harrison Rocks, East Sussex Bedgebury National Pinetum, Kent Parkhurst forest, Isle of Wight Brightstone Forest, Isle of Wight Firestone Copse, Isle of Wight

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