Residents whose homes are located alongside the picturesque Lade Braes in St Andrews are up in arms over an alarming incident at the weekend when two horses and their riders accessed the walkway.
The pair were spotted by one householder on Saturday afternoon riding along the footpath between the Argyle Street car park and Melbourne Place and then going off in the direction of Bridge Street, a busy main route into the university town.
Householder Frances Humphries, who contacted the Citizen to voice her concern, said: ”I just couldn’t believe it at first. I was in a neighbour’s house when I saw them passing by initially.
“A short time later they returned and within a matter of seconds I heard the sound of raised voices and someone screaming. Two ladies were walking along the path and they shouted at the riders to dismount. It was quite clear to me that one of the ladies was very frightened and she was screaming and upset.”
Miss Humphries said that, thankfully, the riders did heed the plea by the two pedestrians to dismount and they walked away leading the horses by their reins.
However, she added,”These were not ponies, but full grown horses. I hate to think what might have happened if they had come across elderly people, young children, mothers with prams or pet animals on this narrow section of the footpath.”
The pathway can be used by cyclists - the bye law banning cycling was repealed some years ago - and Miss Humphries said that, too, can often be a problem for pedestrians and those residents whose garden gates border it.
She concluded: ”I have been struck twice by speeding cyclists when accessing the footpath from my home. There would have been a real problem if any cyclist had come across these two horses at this narrow section, which is dangerous at the best of time.”
Responding to the concerns, Peter Howden, development manager, parks and countryside with Fife Council, said: ”While that area of the core path network is not classified for use by horse riders, people on horses do have access rights under the Land Reform Act if the area of ground is suitable for that activity.
“We haven’t received any formal complaints about this and would have to make a judgement if this part of Lade Braes is suitable for horse riding.” He has asked that anyone concerned should contact the local authority department (tel 08451 555555, ext 440618).
The Lade Braes stretches from the edges of St Andrews at Bogward into the town centre and, in addition to pedestrians and cyclists, is a popular course for joggers. Various paths lead off the walkway including to Cockshaugh Park, Hallow Hill and the Law Mill duck pond.
The beauty spot also features the Boase Wood at the western end of the Lade Braes, which was bequeathed to St Andrews Preservation Trust in 1963 and is maintained by the organisation to provide a habitat for birds and small animals.