Maiden Castle dogwalker raises concerns over signage

Dorset Echo: SIGN OF TIMES: Dr Charles Campion-Smith with Tess walking at Maiden Castle SIGN OF TIMES: Dr Charles Campion-Smith with Tess walking at Maiden Castle

NEW signs could be erected at an ancient Dorchester landmark after concerns were raised by a local dog walker.

Dr Charles Campion-Smith contacted English Heritage after he admitted becoming ‘increasingly frustrated’ by walking his dog on a lead as required by signs at Maiden Castle, only to find whole areas completely free of grazing sheep.

He said that he valued Maiden Castle as a ‘great amenity for local residents and visitors alike’ and respected the fact that grazing of sheep there was long established.

However, Dr Campion-Smith said he was sure he was not the only one who was repeatedly obeying the fixed signs to keep his dog restrained, only to find the areas he was walking in completely free of livestock.

He said: “Each time this happens the likelihood of me heeding the signs in the future lessens.”

Dr Campion-Smith added: “Surely it would be simple to designate the already fenced zones of the monument, and by a board at the major access points indicate the zone – if any – in which sheep are grazing on a particular day.

“Such an arrangement should preserve the right of farmers to have their stock on site without harassment while avoiding the unnecessary restriction of dogs on the areas not being grazed.

“I believe most dog owners would be happy to comply with this.”

He said he had been in correspondence with English Heritage over the issue and had positive feedback, suggesting a scheme similar to the one he proposed could be considered and had worked successfully in other areas, with instances of dog attacks on sheep being reduced.

Dr Campion-Smith now wants other dog walkers who share his views to get in touch with English Heritage to support his calls and show the strength of feeling on the matter.

Estates office manager for English Heritage Helen Allen said: “We welcome Dr Campion-Smith’s suggestions for changes to our on-site signage.

“Maiden Castle is a popular place with dog walkers, and we are now looking into how our signage can improve their experience whilst sheep graze the site.

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