Riders and dog owners clash over woodland access

The sign bearing the graffiti highlights the ill-feeling at the community woodland near Ellon.
The sign bearing the graffiti highlights the ill-feeling at the community woodland near Ellon.

POLICE have been asked to investigate vandalism in a clash between horse riders and dog walkers over the use of a pathway near Ellon.

Feelings are running high and a sign in the community woodland at Waulkmill has been daubed with the message “No dogs, horses only”.

Now the owner of the land at Lochills Woods has written to Grampian Police urging them to investigate the vandalism. He is also trying to enlist the help of local politicians to resolve the problem.

Stephen Strathdee, chairman/director of Strathdee Properties, said in his letter he feels that the riders are not acting in a “reasonable manner” over access and have been “terrorising” walkers on his land.

He told the Times: “I feel sorry for the walkers. They are welcome on my land. What the horse riders are doing is not fair.”

Mr Strathdee believes the riders should be banned under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act, adding: “The access rights laws are a complete mess and these need to be revised by the Government and a more enforceable act introduced.”

A Grampian Police spokesman confirmed they had received Mr Strathdee’s letter and the vandalism would be investigated.

One dog walker, who did not want to be named, said there had been a number of unpleasant incidents involving the riders. He claimed that some mothers and children had been frightened by their “aggressive” nature.

The issue was discussed at Monday night’s meeting of Ythan Community Council.

Members agreed to urge all users of the woodland to be vigilant for anti-social behaviour on the part of any other users, and to report details of such behaviour to the police at the earliest opportunity.