Archive for July 30th, 2012

July 30, 2012

Get off my access land

by backpackingbongos

Up until the encounter it had been one of my favourite days in the hills so far this year.  I was wandering the unfrequented tracks of the little known Radnorshire hills in Wales, enjoying the warm sun on my skin.  The track onto the moorland plateau of Llanfihangel / Colva hill was a grassy sheep nibbled pleasure.  The view across the hidden moorland bowl gave a real remote feel, especially considering the English border was only a few miles away.

On the edge of the plateau four figures were watching me approach with interest, their response to my breezy hello as I passed not as warm as hoped.  I continued on the track before leaving it to bash through the heather towards the trig point that marks the summit of the hill.  On my ascent I heard shouting and turned round to see that it was being directed at me with a flurry of waves.  A couple of gunshots from an unknown direction then went off, perhaps they were warning me of shooting taking place?

The trig point was now less than fifty metres away so I decided to continue.  I spent a pleasant ten minutes at the summit taking in the extensive views.  It was just as I was about to leave when a Landrover pulled up nearby and a man got out and approached me with what can only be described as ‘purpose’.

“I have just been told that you have been walking across the heather”, was his opening statement.

“Yes I was”, was my reply.

“You’re not allowed”.

“Yes I am it’s access land, look here on the map”.

I then received a ten minute lecture informing me that you are only allowed to walk across access land if you are on a right of way.  I tried to explain that he was wrong in this matter.  He helpfully informed me that this is the case on all access land and that any gamekeeper on the moors would tell you the same thing.  There was really no point in arguing the point with this chap as he was completely convinced he was correct in this matter.  He was clearly pissed off that the area was becoming increasing popular with tourists and that they were getting the overspill from the nearby Brecon Beacons.  In his opinion tourism was clearly a very bad thing.

With the right of way I needed to get to being a few miles away he reluctantly ‘let’ me continue on my way.  He said that he has to work weekends so that he can ‘educate’ walkers on the moors.  Thankfully I did not have Reuben with me as there is in his opinion only one thing worse than walkers and that is walkers with dogs.

I was under strict instructions not to disturb any grouse and give them right of way.  He then drove back the way he had come, yes drove, obviously driving a huge vehicle across the heather causes much less disturbance than walking………..

I have to admit that I am not one for confrontation and remained polite throughout the whole situation.  Now I am bloody cross and wish I had been more argumentative and stood up for my rights.  Some access land can be excluded or closed for certain periods and I was not 100 percent sure if this was the case or not in this instance.  Therefore as soon as I got back I was straight onto the Countryside Council for Wales website to check out the mapping.

It showed exactly as I thought, no restrictions to access.

The good thing with the mapping on this website is that it will show if there are any specific restrictions in place, the dates and the reason for the restriction.  A good example is given below of some nearby hills.

I do wish I had checked before setting off as I would have been in a better position to argue my case.  Basically he had no right to tell me that I should not be there.  It’s the first time this has happened to me in twenty years walking the UK hills.  I wonder how often he is up there hassling legitimate users of the access land?

Anyone know who is the best person / authority to report the incident to.  You can report a blocked right of way but can you report similar issues with access land?