Landowner's anger at motorists getting stuck on his property due to sat nav error

A landowner has voiced his frustration at motorists getting stuck on his property as a result of dodgy sat nav directions

James Cookson, owner of Meldon Park near Morpeth, Northumberland, who is annoyed that sat navs keep sending drivers down a dirt track near Temple Thornton, and the farmer has to keep pulling them out
James Cookson, owner of Meldon Park near Morpeth, Northumberland, who is annoyed that sat navs keep sending drivers down a dirt track near Temple Thornton, and the farmer has to keep pulling them out

A Northumberland landowner has voiced his frustration at motorists who are getting stuck on his property due to an apparent sat nav error.

A number of vehicles, including lorries, have driven down a “rutted” narrow country lane at Meldon Park Estate near Morpeth, despite a sign warning that it is unsuitable for vehicles.

They have tried to negotiate the dirt track and become stuck, having to be rescued by a neighbouring farmer in his tractor.

Drivers have told estate owner James Cookson their sat navs have directed them down the lane.

The landowner has likened the situation to that at Holy Island where motorists ignore signs warning them not to cross its causeway outside of safe times, and said he is considering imposing a £500 charge on anyone who has to be rescued in future.

The lane, at the estate west of Morpeth, adjoins the B6343 road and passes near its Kitchen Garden cafe.

It was designated a byway open to all traffic (BOAT) around 18 months ago.

Since then, Mr Cookson claims there have been incidents around once a fortnight in which vehicles have turned onto the lane, despite the “unsuitable for motor vehicles” sign, including delivery wagons and fuel tankers.

On one recent occasion, the motorist opened a gate along the lane and failed to shut it, allowing horses to escape from a field.

Mr Cookson said: “I could understand it if it looked pretty accessible. But the farmers do not use the track with their tractor for the simple reason it is a bit too narrow.

“If you are not using it with your tractor how are you going to get a seven-and-a-half tonne wagon down it? It is one of these tracks where you are going to think twice, it is not tarmaced. It is rutted. It is quite rough.

“Surely when you go down there you just think this can not be right. They deserve a medal for getting down there. How they get down there I do not know.”

He likened the situation to that at Holy Island, where motorists regularly ignore signs warning them not to cross its causeway outside safe times.

“There is a sign up which clearly says not suitable for motor vehicles, but they do not read that. Either they can not read or they choose not to.

“It is exactly the same as the crossing to Holy Island.”

The landowner said he may put an additional sign to get the message across to drivers with the following message: “If you get stuck it is £500 to get pulled out.”

Mr Cookson is the seventh generation of his family to live at the estate, after it was bought by an ancestor in 1832 from the Greenwich Hospital Trust.

The estate, which boasts a walled garden open to the public in addition to the cafe, boasts 15 miles of public rights of way. The 3,852 acre estate is managed by Mr Cookson.

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