Maureen calls in Hollywood star in her 11-year fight to preserve centuries old bridleway
Land owners want bridleway closed whole year even though they say danger
for just two-weeks
The Byways and Bridleways Trust says, It is the campers that need avoid the bridleway users - not the other way round, thus it is an inappropriate camp site.
Maureen Comber is bringing in the big guns in her 11-year fight to preserve the centuries-old bridleway at the edge of the Lithuanian-owned Headley Park Hotel, Bordon, Hampshire.
Maureen Comber introduces George Mikell to Flicker, who has not been able to use the bridleway for 11-years.
The big gun is George Mikell, the Lithuanian-born Hollywood star of The Guns of Navarone, The Great Escape, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and a string of other World War II, Cold War and Western films.
Born Jurgis Mikelaitis, he grew up on the family farm in Lithuania with horses and has loved and ridden horses all his life.
"As soon as I heard the problem Maureen was having with the bridleway and the Lithuanian-owned Headley Park Hotel, I wanted to come and see the situation for myself," he says.
Says Maureen Comber, who is also prospective Lib Dem Candidate for the by-election for Hampshire County Council for Grayshott, Headley and Liphook and Bramshott, which will take place approx 15th September, "The problem is simple. The Lithuanians own some woodland through which the bridleway runs. For two-weeks of the year, they have a scout camp in the woodland. For those two-weeks of the year there are guy ropes around the tents. The Lithuanians say the horses might be dangerous to their campers. Therefore, they want the bridleway closed.
"We say if there are guy ropes around the tents for only two weeks of the year, we are quite prepared to say riders will not ride along the bridleway for those two-weeks. But, at least, keep the bridleway open for the other 50 weeks of the year. Another option is to not put the tents so close to the bridleway. They do not dispute the bends in the road which the bridleway avoids, are very dangerous"
Is this space big enough for a horse to get through ? Maureen Comber and George Mikell assess the amount of space a horse has in which to avoid getting tangled up with tents.
Says George, "On the face of it, it all seems so silly. The Lithuanians say the bridleway should not be used if there is a camp in their wood. There is a camp in their wood for two-weeks of the year. Why can't riders use the bridleway the other 50 weeks of the year ?
"I have ridden horses all my life. As soon as I heard of this dispute, I thought I should come and have a look. Both as a rider and as a Lithuanian.
"I am sure that if both sides sit down and talk about it, we can solve the problem over an English cup of tea."
Says Maureen, "The Lithuanians always talk about the safety of the campers, who use the woodland in the last week of July and the first week of August. But if we say riders won't use the bridleway during that time, the safety of the campers is not an issue."
Both sides are hoping that the Hollywood star will come in from the forest and solve the problem of the bridleway.
What the papers said ...