New stile for footpath 230 – after 50 years wait

AS the saying goes, ‘Good things come to those who wait’ – and that was certainly the case for footpath 230.

For half a century, the legal line of the footpath was blocked off by a barbed wire fence, meaning walkers had to take a slight detour through Fern Lea Farm.

However, after help from Oldham Ramblers, Councillor Graham Sheldon and the farming family, the path has been restored and a new stile provided so walkers can follow the true route once more.

Fern Lea stile

John Walton, who stepped down as Oldham Ramblers’ Footpath Secretary in October after five years, explained how the success came about.

“Footpath 230 must be one of the longest paths in Saddleworth. It starts in Tanners Yard, goes uphill to Fern Lea Farm, across the fields to White Lea crossing Intake Lane, through Lane Head terminating on Shadworth Lane – 3.2km long,” he said.

“Part of the Oldham Way follows path 230 from White Lea to Fern Lea through the farmyard to Intake Lane and on its way to Dovestones.

“The true line of footpath 230 did not go through the yard but went slightly north – but a barbed wire fence had blocked this route for almost 50 years.

“The barbed wire blockage had been reported many times to the various Rights of Way (ROW) Officers but no action had been take to rectify the situation.

“So in June I once again reported the blockage to the present ROW Officer but she commented it was the landowners’ responsibility and she did not want to get involved.

“I contacted Cllr Sheldon to see if he could arrange a meeting with the farmers to see if they would like to have a new stile installed.

“I then contacted the Manchester RA to see if they would fund this new stile and the answer was yes. The monies would come from a Legacy Fund that had built up over many years.

“A new stile has now been installed by Redfox Countryside Services and new Oldham Way waymarker discs have been added to direct walkers away from the yard of Fern Lea.

“After 50 years the legal line of footpath 230 has been restored, a new stile has been provided from the RA at no charge to the landowners and the 40-mile Oldham Way walk has only had a minor change to its route!”

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