A PICTURESQUE path alongside the River Thames that has been used by residents and boaters for decades could soon be closed.

A notice was placed at the entry to the Thames Path in Abingdon, which runs along Wilsham Road, warning that gates will be fitted at either end to prevent access to the general public, residents said.

The popular stretch, which is used by hundreds for their daily walk, is owned by the Vale of White Horse District Council.

The local authority also manage the moorings there.

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If a gate is erected, the path would then only be used by boaters with a mooring licence.

One Abingdon local, Peter Gardner, who is an avid boater himself and owns five single canoes and a paddleboard, said he was prepared to consult with lawyers to stop the closure of the riverside stretch.

Speaking about the devastating loss of local amenity, the 77-year-old, who is a former national canoe champion, commented: “The Thames Path has been an established right of way for more than 100 years.

“We should really stop this before installation of the gates starts.

“There are no safety issues here, contrary to what those with a mooring licence claim.

“They believe they have got exclusivity of the path and the waters because they pay something like £10 a week, and I do not believe that is right.

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“I am so annoyed about this – I discovered temporary barriers placed there and I instantly tore them down.”

Mr Gardner also pointed out that in the course of a month there are only about 20 boats that use the stretch.

He commented: “This means you have just a few people stopping hundreds of others using the path every day.

“The Thames River is not just for the few, we should want everyone to be enjoying and using the waters.

“This is part of our freedoms.

“I do not understand why they would want to do this as it is so lovely to look out the window and see parents and their children having a nice walk during the weekends.”

But the angry local is not the only one prepared to take ‘real action’ against the proposal.

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He claimed that an elderly neighbour of his – a nearly 90-year-old woman, who has used the patch for more than 50 years of her life, has vowed to chain herself to the proposed gates in protest.

Mr Gardner’s interest does not only stem from local pride.

Spending most of his life in the river, he recognises the benefits of the riverside stretch can have on people.

Even more, the 77-year-old modified canoes and rowing boats to allow the inclusion of people with disabilities in the boating community, and he still spends the majority of his time in coaching others.

Currently, he is working on developing a paddleboard that can be used by people with multiple sclerosis.

It is still unclear why the restrictions to the Thames river path were proposed and whether it poses any dangers to locals using it for a walk.

Vale of White Horse District Council has been contacted for a comment on the plan.