NEWS: Vixen Tor for all to enjoy

Ecovillage Network UK office at
Wed Sep 28 11:00:52 BST 2005

Vixen Tor for all to enjoy

A successful mass trespass was staged at Vixen Tor, Dartmoor on Saturday.

British Mountaineering Council

A total of around 80 climbers, walkers and local people protested the 
loss of access to the Tor, which was closed to the public in 2003. The 
protest was conducted peacefully, and witnessed by police, press, radio 
and TV. Several routes were climbed, and protesters unfurled a banner 
reading “Vixen Tor for all to enjoy” on top of the Tor.

Steve Findlay, who organised the protest said, “Eventually we want 
access to Vixen Tor for walkers, climbers and anybody who wants to use 
the land in a responsible way. Thanks very much to those who made the 
effort on Saturday. I hope it will be worth it in the long run. One 
things for sure, if we do nothing, nothing will happen. We intend to 
start a petition soon, on paper and on the web.”

In a press statement released on the day, BMC Chief Executive Dave 
Turnbull said, “It is important to appreciate that Vixen Tor is so 
important - to the general public and to climbers - that people are 
likely to continue visiting the crag - irrespective of whether an access 
agreement is reached or not. The BMC suggests that it is in the 
interests of all parties to wipe the slate clean and find a practical 
way of allowing people to continue enjoying this special corner of 
Dartmoor in a responsible, harmonious way.”

Campaigners stage trespass at tor

Several protesters scaled the tor at Merrivale
Campaigners protesting over access to a closed Dartmoor tor staged a 
mass trespass on Saturday.

About 40 climbers and ramblers from across the country ignored "do not 
trespass" signs, barbed wire and tarred boulders at Vixen Tor.

The tor, at Merrivale, has been the subject of controversy since it was 
closed to the public in 2003 by its owner Mary Alford.

Once inside they unfurled a banner reading "Vixen Tor for all to enjoy".

Civil matter

Then some of them scaled the tor - known as the Sphinx of Dartmoor - 
unfurled the banner on the summit, and picnicked.

Sergeant Bob Hughes of Devon and Cornwall police, one of three officers 
at the scene, said: "The issue of private land is one of civil trespass 
which is not a police matter.

"We are just here to make sure emotions do not get out of hand, and 
everybody stays within the confines of the law that is applicable to the 
police service."

The protesters were led by 30-year-old Steve Finley, the south west 
representative of the British Mountaineering Council.

"Eventually we want access to Vixen Tor for walkers, climbers and 
families anybody who wants to use the land in a responsible way," said 
Mr Finley, from Bristol.

Mrs Alford put up barbed wire fences and Keep Out signs on the land 
after 30 years of public access.

It was then listed for public access under the Right to Roam 
legislation, but the owner appealed against that and won.

Mrs Alford has issued a statement via her lawyers calling on the 
protesters not to trespass on her land.

'Voluntary basis'

"I would ask the organisers to ensure that no trespass or other breach 
of the law takes place," the statement said.

The chief executive of the Dartmoor National Park Authority Dr Nick 
Atkinson said: "We are still seeking to re-establish access to Vixen Tor 
on a voluntary basis.

"We have had discussion with the owners and they are continuing, and we 
hope a voluntary agreement will be concluded.

"In the meantime, walkers and climbers are asked to respect the current 

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