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Protecting our precious places

Allowing access by a stile or kissing gate

By Philip Lissaman

How can we allow public visitors pedestrian access to a covenant area, yet keep out stock and public vehicles?

We all know that normal farm gates can get left open with dire consequences and frustrations for the farmer.

Traditional stile

A simple and cheap option is the traditional stile. This saves wear and tear on the fence (and clothes) and makes the protected area more 'user friendly'.

Able-bodied people can hop over a stile quite easily, but vehicles, stock and horses can't.

The main shortcomings of the stile are:

  • Less-able public visitors may have difficulties
  • Access by the landowner for covenant management purposes is restricted
  • If stock have got into the protected area somehow, it's difficult to get them out again.

Grant Nelson, whose philanthropic organisation The Gama Foundation has covenanted several indigenous forest areas in the Canterbury region, has submitted an alternative idea that he has found successful.

The design cunningly combines a normal farm gate with the long-established 'kissing gate' idea, thus restricting public access but allowing free access by the land manager.

Grant writes: 'We have developed a method of allowing pedestrian access to a covenanted area without risking a farm gate being left open and stock getting in. This involves the use of two and a half fence posts.'

Kissing gate diagram

  1. Attach the half post to the top half of one full fence post using two (100mm) butt hinges.
  2. Hammer two large staples (of the type used to hook gate chains onto) into the hinged posts so that the staples almost touch and can be padlocked together.
  3. Set the full post in the ground about 900mm from the existing gatepost. It needs to be positioned so that when the gate is opened, and the hinged posts are padlocked together, the gate will butt up against the hinged half post. When the padlock is removed, the hinged post should be able to swing out of the way, allowing the gate to open fully.
  4. Kissing gate exampleSet the remaining full post in the ground beside the existing fence, about 1500 from the gatepost.
  5. Erect netting, wire or rails between the two fixed posts to form a triangular, semi-enclosed area into which people walk when they go through the gateway.

This would seem to be a valuable structure for anywhere on a farm where public are allowed access.

Thank you to Grant for this idea.


Open SpaceTM Magazine No.51, April 2001 © QEII National Trust

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