Confusion over access to a popular path has increased as members of the public have been shut out by the landowner.

Last week, the News & Mail reported that signs had appeared at the entrance to the Blackwater Valley path, at North Camp station, stating that cyclists were prohibited from using the path between the station and Hollybush Hill.

The signs have now been removed, however, metal gates have been erected in their place and padlocked, denying all members of the public use of that section of the path.

Families, mountain bikers and commuters who have used the Blackwater Valley Path for years have been "shocked" by the decision.

Alan Hilliar, former Ash Parish and Guildford Borough councillor, from Ash, uses the path regularly to cycle from his home to Farnborough, but came to the path on Monday only to find he could not get through.

He said: “There are dozens if not hundreds of walkers and cyclists each week for whom this is an essential route, for work or for leisure.

"In the 10 minutes or so I was at the new gates, two other cyclists came along expecting to be able to use the path.

“To avoid the blocked off section, we have to either cycle an additional two miles via Ash Vale or take our lives in our hands by using the cycle track along the A331.

"I’ve certainly had a nasty accident on my bike along that section of the A331 caused by the poor maintenance of that section.”

It is thought the decision could be linked to previous plans to develop on the site.

The land, containing the section of the path, was purchased by George Boulden, director of Car and Metal Recyclers in Aldershot, in 2011 and it was brought to Rushmoor Borough Council’s attention in 2012 that he had been using the site on an unauthorised basis for the storage of scrap metal vehicles.

A planning application was later submitted to redevelop the site and turn it into a metal recycling facility, however, it was refused in January.

On a forum on Single Track, a website for cyclists, one resident said: “Landowner is in dispute with the council so he is taking it out on all local authorities by removing co-operation.”

Mr Boulden declined to comment.