CHALET owners have stepped up their opposition to walkers and cyclists accessing a £637,000 recreational trail between Dunster and Blue Anchor via a path across their land.
An area around their properties has been fenced off and signs erected asking people to use a path across the beach instead.
The first 1.5km section of the Steam Coast Trail (SCT), which will eventually run from Minehead to Williton, was planned to pass along a path running through the 18-chalet Blue Anchor site before joining the B3191 road outside the West Somerset Railway station.
But Blue Anchor Chalet Owners’ Association (BOCAO) has now fenced off the path and directed walkers and cyclists down a steep pebble bank onto the beach, which protesters have labelled as “positively dangerous”.
This week an email petition was set up seeking support for a legal bid to have the footpath – claimed by local residents to be a traditional right of way – reinstated.
Problems between the chalet owners and SCT have also meant that some 500m of track leading to Blue Anchor, which is also owned by BACOA, has not been surfaced and is difficult for walking and cycling.
Dr Harry Singer, chairman of the Friends of Steam Coast Trail team, which is masterminding the project, said: “The Blue Anchor chalet owners have understandably struggled with the increased footfall caused by the success of the project.
“We have had numerous consultations and we intend to revisit the situation in future when, hopefully, the chalet owners will recognise what a great asset the path has become and we can come to some mutually agreed solution.
“In the meantime, we are advising people, at their own risk, to use the beach footpath for the final part of the route.”
This week the Free Press was unable to contact a BACOA spokesman, but a chalet resident who asked not to be named said: “We come here for peace and quiet. This has always been private land and we just hope people will respect that.”