Freedom to Roam?

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Freedom to Roam

The freedom to roam, or everyman’s right is the general public’s right to access certain public or privately owned land for recreation and exercise. The right is sometimes called the right of public access to the wilderness or the right to roam read more

I have noticed recently that there are a number of developing issues that could fundamentally change the way we access the great outdoors.

Most are not monumental in themselves, some are very regional but overall they collectively represent something that may be of great concern.

Having lived and worked in many countries where access is restricted to outdoor recreation areas for walkers and climbers and to coastal and inland waterways. This has a fundamental effect on the way people recreate and maybe their long-term health. Walking is done on roads, albeit the byways and highways but roads never the less. It is accepted that this is how you walk and guess what you can wear white trainers to do it. It’s a whole different mindset. Why do you need walking boots to walk on tarmacadam or concrete. What you need more is high vis vests and be able to dive into the hedge at a moments notice.

Hill walking is often something that is done on mass in the few areas that have waymarked paths. It is not a tranquil uplifting experience. Although it is social!

The kit you need for this is often your road kit because after all its all walking isn’t it.

Cycling well it’s the road again and you need to be very road savvy, even on country lanes because the car is bigger and faster than you and lets not talk about the tractor. This means that children don’t access the joys of peddling at a young age, most of their sport experience is team games because at least they have access to a field. Mountain Biking, unless there is a dedicated area, doesn’t get a look in. Access to water often means big drives and when you arrive, guess what, lots of barbed wire and a big sign greet you no access private land.

This is outdoor life in a world where right to roam has no place.

Below are  a  selection of  issues that have come to my noticed in the last few weeks and links to further information.

If you know of others please add them in the comments below.

1. Ramblers access to outdoors. Ramblers also expressed a vision of a continuous English coastal path – of a route which would take in exhilarating cliff-top walks, breathtaking shorelines, an abundance of wildlife and millions of years of the earth’s history, as well as breathing new life to our coastal villages and seaside towns. This vision led to the groundbreaking Marine and Coastal Access Act. However, Ramblers reported we could be about to lose this magnificent path before any of us have even set foot on it. read more

2. Climbers’ rights at risk in first coastal path hearing. The British Mountaineering Council is fighting moves to ban climbers from sea cliffs and coastal routes in Dorset which would see rights granted under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act lost under new legislation. read more

3. Could the recent Draft National Planning Policy Framework result in another government U-turn similar to the Forestry? read more

Maybe this is a good time to shout out for the fantastic work done to preserve our right to roam in the UK to name a few The John Muir Trust, National Trails, Natural England, English Heritage and the National Trust there are of course many more.

That’s a lot of watchful eyes I feel better already.

Sarah Howcroft

Gift Your Gear BANSept16

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