Dog walkers unhappy at new rule brought in at Lyme Park
Dog walkers say they have been cancelling their National Trust memberships in response to ‘severe’ rules enforcing dogs to be on leads of most of the site at Lyme Park.
The National Trust has said that between April 12 and July 31, dogs should be kept on a short lead at all times while visiting the estate in Disley, with the exception of Knightslow Wood, where they are permitted to be off lead, under close control.
They said the reason for the change in stance was to protect the wildlife and added: “In 2020 while Lyme was closed to visitors, wildlife was able to thrive. Once we were able to welcome visitors again, we asked for dogs to be kept on leads until the end of the ground nesting bird season.
"The deer will be giving birth soon too, and we’ll have Red Deer calves on the estate once more.
"So we ask you to do your bit for nature and when visiting Lyme with your four-legged friend, please walk only on footpaths and keep your dog on a lead at all times, just until the young birds have taken to the skies and the deer calves have found their feet.”
However, the dog walking community say they are being made to feel unwelcome.
Professional dog walker Lizzy, who didn’t want her full name used, often walks four dogs off the lead at Lyme and says its not the same anymore.
She said: “We had almost no warning about the dogs having to be on leads.
"We as a dog walking community are very careful, we pick up after our dogs we don’t want to harm the wildlife but walking a dog on a lead isn’t why many of us became members.
"The dogs need the space and freedom to explore and Lyme has always been such a wonderful place to take them but everything has changed.”
Dog walking members requested consultation prior to the National Trust announcement so they could have some input but say it has not been given.
Regular dog walkers can now enter Lyme at 8.30am prior to the first bookable slot at 9am but dogs still have to be on leads and the community says this just segregates dog walkers from other park users.
There is currently an active Facebook group who are speaking about about the changes including the increased farming.
Member Lesley Williams said: “Lyme estate has been open to the public since 1946 without any previous need for NT ‘Conservation Focused Grazing’.
"Lyme seems to now be being run as a commercial farm with areas blocked off to allow grazing of cows, sheep, deer and now all other areas restricted due to nesting birds.
"This means walkers have to turn back and can never plan a route with certainty, due to the constantly changing grazing areas.
"Some areas have been closed for almost two years, since the management strategy changed but this is the first year that an 'on lead ban in all areas' has been introduced.”