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PUBLIC access to the Beckhampton Gallops, a popular area for dog walkers, may have to be closed if walkers can't adhere to the rules.

beckhamptonThe privately owned land between the A4 toward Calne and the A361 toward Devizes has been used to train race horses, including the Queen's horses, for 200 years.

It is a popular area to walk dogs but there is a misunderstanding that the land is public. Although locals to the area know they should visit after 12.30 when the training has finished, many others don't - posing a safety risk.

Gallops owner, Roger Charlton has said that the problem is becoming dangerous for his horses and riders. The fear is that a family or dog could run out of the bushes, and startle the horses, flying litter left behind by walkers also poses a real threat to safety.

Race horses are highly-strung animals and even if your dog isn't bothered by horses, it doesn't mean the horses, especially the younger colts won't react, they can easily be startled.

Sadly, unless people start respecting the area and a concerted effort is made to stop the hazards posed by increased footfall, the private land will have to be closed off to the public.

One dog walker told us: "There are some folk who seem to think that walking on the Gallops at Beckhampton is acceptable before 12.30.

"The owners have put up signs advising not to use before that time so please can we respect their wishes?

"I have been told today that if this continues, we will be banned from using it and I, for one, enjoy my walks there."

Photograph from www.hiddenwiltshire.com