LONGLEAT has confirmed that walkers and cyclists are not allowed onto the central parts of the estate – the house, courtyards, and surrounding grounds – unless they purchase a ticket.
This comes despite the fact that national cycle routes run through these areas, with a contract in place to allow cyclists to use them.
Routes 24 and 25 of the National Cycle Network run through the estate and converge outside the house, as agreed in a contract between Longleat and the sustainable travel group, Sustrans. While Longleat is able to terminate the contract, they are required to give a month notice, which has not been received by Sustrans.
The Wiltshire Cycleway also runs through the central part of the estate, but Wiltshire Council say they have not had any communication from Longleat with regards to changing the route. Longleat says they are “currently looking into all access areas including the cycleway.”
Readers contacted the Frome Times last month after being told by security personnel that changes were to be made. Longleat has now confirmed that a review of their access policy will close the central areas to the general public unless they buy a ticket, but will allow unlimited access for walkers, dogs, and cyclists in the other areas of the 8,000 acres of the “wider estate”.
Longleat issued a statement to confirm the outcome of their access review. The statement says, “Longleat is a private estate, and as such it is the duty of the management and trustees to protect all aspects of the whole estate and buildings. Due to some recent serious security and health and safety issues including robbery, as well as other abuse and damage to the estate, we have reviewed the access policy at Longleat. This has also been done with input from both the police and insurers of the estate.
“The policy regarding access to the Longleat estate is as follows:
“The House and associated courtyards, formal grounds, landscaped gardens, Pleasure Walk and the Longleat Safari and Adventure Park are closed to the general public. During our open season people will be able to purchase tickets and have full access to the above areas. This policy is in line with many other leading UK attractions and estates. Unlimited access is permitted for walkers, their dogs and cyclists in other areas of the wider estate (over 8,000 acres), excluding the above-mentioned areas.
“We sympathise fully with anyone who feels they have been adversely affected by this review. However Longleat is, and always has been a private estate and has always endeavoured to allow as much access to the public as is practical. Nevertheless the general public needs to understand and respect that we are a major UK tourist attraction with over one million visitors a year during our open season. We have an obligation to ensure both the enjoyment and safety of all our visitors who pay for the facilities we offer at Longleat. This also includes the safety and welfare of our extensive world-leading animal collection. Recent events at Longleat have necessitated that we review and tighten our access procedures.”