One of the Green Chain’s undoubted strengths is the ability to follow the route without taking a map along. The signage is excellent and you quickly get used to spotting it in the near distance and soon you’re following it without really looking. This in turn means the walk is ideal for those new to walking who want the confidence to explore more without having to spend money on kit and maps. (It ought to be said that excellent self guide leaflets are available free from a variety of websites and outlets as well.) It is for this reason though that the blocked portion the Walk has had to be removed from the signage. To continue the chain analogy – the Green Chain Walk is only as strong as its weakest link and it is important that trust in the whole route is not damaged. Removing this section from the signs is one thing but as well as being marked on OS Explorer 162 the route appears on AtoZ maps (paper and smart phone app), the Collins London atlas and all other maps of London I’m familiar with.
Technically this part of the route is a permissive path. (This isn’t very complex but follow the link below for more detail on rights of way.) As a result after trying to find another solution that is acceptable to everybody, Inner London Ramblers feels it now has no option but to begin the ponderous process of claiming the path as a public right of way and get this stretch of the route included on Bexley’s Definitive Map. Despite a reputation to the contrary it is rare that we resort to this legal process. Contact has been established with the borough and the Green Chain Walk Users Group and both are very supportive of this action.
Which brings us to the landowner – Woodlands Farm. It’s a trust that receives local authority support and portrays itself as a community farm. Despite accepting the route back in 1977 they now state unequivocally they don’t want the route across the farm. Just how community minded is that? This is a path beloved by locals and joggers as well as walkers from across London. You’ll find a notice board in front of the farm on Shooters Hill but in general the farm doesn’t seem very public facing – as of 2 July 2012 their website had just one page. Contrast this to last year when there was a whole raft of pages about open days and education events available.