When is a dog ban not a dog ban?

WestNabMap (1 of 1)
Crow Act sign on West Nab. But is it accurate?

Towards the end of last summer a series of signs appeared around West Nab to highlight the longstanding crow act restrictions on dogs. The restriction has never been signed like this before and more to the point people have enjoyed walking  muts up onto the nab for generations without any challenge from the secretive shooting syndicate.

One Saturday afternoon I was setting off from the layby on Wessenden Head Road when I noticed a young man pull up on  a motor cycle with a rifle (in a case) slung  over his shoulder. Wearing a camouflage jacket and his crash helmet he began to run after me, shouting as he did so.

“Didn’t you see the sign?” he asked.

“Nope” I replied. “Why are you running after me carrying a gun and wearing a crash helmet?”

There followed a conversation in which the young man repeatedly referred to the sign and said he was a gamekeeper. The gist of it all was “You can’t walk here with a dog”

I let him know I’d walked up West Nab regularly for 25 years with a dog (more than one!) and I wasn’t going to be stopping anytime soon. He calmed down at this and let me go on my way.

I took a photo of the sign on my way down and checked it against the official case number and guess what? Someone has added quite a bit of extra red hatching to give the impression of a dog ban over a larger area.

I brought this to the attention of Natural England who advised me as follows

Thanks for your email dated 30 September 2016 (15:29).

The Open Access Contact Centre administers the Countryside and Rights of Way (CRoW) Act of 2000 which established “open access” land and granted a general right of public access to that land for the purposes of open air recreation on foot.

I’ve attached a copy of the PDF produced by this office which shows the extent of the restriction (exclusion of dogs on grouse moor) in accordance with direction notice 2014127481 (Meltham Moor – SE087086). Clearly the sign that has been erected on sight shows an augmented restriction area (in the North West corner of the site map) which is not covered by this particular direction.

It’s only my best guess, but it looks as if somebody has annotated a copy of the site map produced by this office by adding additional hatching lines. It is therefore not accurate and does not represent the dog restriction area, please use the attached PDF to reconcile the correct restriction area.

It is an offence under section 14 of the CROW Act to display any notice which contains false or misleading information, which is likely to deter the public from exercising their right of access under the Act. Signs should not imply that freedom to walk over areas of open access is limited in any way (unless there is a formal restriction in place). I will therefore refer this matter on to a case officer within our national team for consideration and appropriate course of action or indeed if the land owners are aware of the misleading signage.

The sign is still there.


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