I support the concept of ‘least restrictive access’ defined by British Standard BS5709 which means removing as many obstructions from the rights of way network as possible. Stiles are difficult for many walkers to negotiate deterring them from accessing the countryside safely. CBC adopted a policy which gives more details of BS5709. The landowners in Toddington parish have been really supportive so over 55 stiles have been removed since the mid 1990s, with only a couple left. There is no doubt the removal of stiles has encouraged more walkers to get out and about.
Chalgrave parish has a quarter of the stiles in the whole of Central Bedfordshire Council area – a disproportionally high number – one stile every 440 metres of path! The photo is an example of a double stile in Chalgrave parish. The maintenance of stiles is a continual challenge, as the steps work loose and the frames also rot and break.
How many stiles are there?
The following statistics were provided by CBC to the Joint Local Access Forum in Jan 2021. The numbers of stiles in each local parish is shown.
As of spring 2021 there are active plans to remove the last two remaining stiles in Toddington (TOD33 & TOD61).
|Parish (abbreviation)||Area (Hectares)||Network (km)||Stiles||metres/stile|
|Milton Bryan (MBR)||1,659||18.14||14||1,296|
|Tingrith (TIN)||389||6.39||0||no stiles|