Get off my access land – an update

by backpackingbongos

Last night I wrote a letter and emailed it to Powys County Council, the BMC, the Ramblers and the Countryside Council for Wales.  I am very happy to report that I have had a response from all of them!

First off the block was Elfyn who is the Access and Conservation officer for the BMC in Wales.  He confirmed that I had a right to walk on this particular bit of access land.  He very clearly and succinctly conveyed my rights in a couple of paragraphs.  Thanks Elfyn, your response has ensured that I will continue renewing my BMC membership each year!

I then received a response from the Rights of Way and Access Officer from Powys County Council.  He confirmed that he and his colleagues will be investigating and will let me know the outcome.

The Ramblers are going to contact and inform their local group.

I also received a good response from the Access and Recreation Advisor from the Countryside Council for Wales.  He also confirmed the right to access on this hill and forwarded my email to Powys County Council.

All very positive and at least now people know where to report such matters, go direct to the Rights of Way and Access Officer of the relevant local authority.

On a less positive note it appears that a fellow blogger had a very unpleasant and potentially dangerous / lethal experience on the same hill earlier that morning.  Have a read of Moments of Madness on Dawns blog.  This shows that mine was not an isolated experience.

I’ll let you know the outcome when the local authority have investigated.


29 Comments to “Get off my access land – an update”

  1. Excellent!!! 🙂 Who says social media is a load of crap eh?

  2. Wow. I’m just getting caught up on all of this. This is nothing others haven’t already said, but the use of a gun is absolutely no light matter and the immaturity and callous disregard for safety by the user is shocking and alarming to me. I do hope these people you’ve contacted are able to do something about it.

    That said, I’ll be in the area starting around Sept 6th, and totally up for some camping or mass hiking if you don’t mind a new person tagging along a time. Strength in numbers right? I love dogs, too. Good luck.

    • Hi there, you moving to Edinburgh in September then? Excellent, you will love it! I’ll let you know if a mass walk gets organised.

  3. James, good to see you had a positive response to this. I have read on various forums some similar issues to you in the English /Welsh borders. My only meet with a gamekeeper when out walking was a rather positive one. Having strayed due to my poor map reading onto I think private land I met a gamekeeper and I asked him to confirm my position. After apologising, he said no problem, carry on down the track and you will get to where you were going – he even offered to give me a lift in his Landrover. Just goes to show there is good & bad in all walks of life.

  4. Well done that man – hopefully this will teach this numpty a lesson. I’m well up for a bit of protest walking especially when it’s protecting my local hills.
    “We will fight them at the Trig Pillars…….”

    • Cheers Andy, if something gets organised I will let you know. You are lucky to have such fine hills right on your doorstep!

  5. Brilliant work, James – and, to be fair, an excellent response so far from the various authorities. Let’s hope the situation can be resolved quickly and safely, and that no one else needs to be frightened by such unwarranted (and plainly wrong) agression.

    Please keep us all posted of any developments. I’m sure you will, and you can know we are all 100% behind your efforts.

    • Jules I was very pleased to get such prompt responses to the emails that I sent out. Of course I will post a response once I get one.

  6. Good work James. Obviously some education needed here for the gamekeeper who was clearly wrong either through ignorance or by intention. It is never pleasant to be confronted in such a way and thankfully not common, but you responded admirably. Hopefully this will be the one and only occasion you have to experience such actions.

    • It’s the first time that I have been challenged Paul in over 20 years tramping the hills so I do realise that it is uncommon. Hopefully something that will not happen again.

  7. Have I missed something in the last two posts? There seems to be several comments giving the impression that the shooters were putting you in danger or posed a threat to you. I have read the posts a couple of times and I do not get this impression at all. In fact I get the impression that they may have actually been warning you that shooting was taking place. As someone who lives in the countryside I can certainly appreciate guns going off nearby can be intimidating, but I would be very surprised if they were shooting without regard for anybodies safety. I am not sticking up for the landowner or the shooters here in any way, but it does bother me that it is becoming fact that they placed you in danger or showed some form of aggression when they may not have done. Could you perhaps clarify if they were pointing the guns in your general direction or you simply heard them being discharged nearby.

    FWIW James I think the way you have handled this is spot on and reporting the attempt to restrict access to the various organisations is the right way to deal with this. In the end this may simply be a case of a landowner or one of their representatives simply not being aware of access law – I hope so anyway.

    • I think you’re right that the gun aspect may be being overblown, but in conjunction with Dawn’s blog post it’s certainly a little concerning. Nobody (AFAIK) is accused of “waving guns around” . There wouldn’t be organised shoots going on at this time of year, but a keeper could certainly be out doing vermin control. This from the BASC code of conduct: “Shoot managers and Guns must ensure that shooting does not obstruct, cause danger or alarm to users of the public highway, including roads, bridleways, footpaths and other rights of way.” While this doesn’t specifically mention access land, I think the key phrase is “cause alarm”. James may not have been alarmed, but it sounds like Dawn was.

      • Hi Roddy, I agree that from Dawns blog that her experience was rather concerning. As I wrote in response to David I have been very careful in my description of gunshots being fired. I feel that it is important to be accurate in such instances.

    • Hi David, I was very carefull in the wording of my post as I was unsure of the intentions of the people waving to me and where the gunshots came from. All I can say that is they were very close by. I was also very careful in my wording on the emails I sent, I wrote the following, “There were then a couple of gunshots at what sounded like close proximity. I am unable to ascertain whether they were for my benefit or it was due to coincidence, but they were certainly very loud and close by”. At no point have I said that I actually saw a gun either in my posts or in any correspondence. If a gun had of been pointed in my direction I would have immediately phoned the Police.

  8. Never commented before… But welcome to the club! At least one meeting with a Gamekeeper is inevitable sadly. Don’t worry about the guns. The traffics more dangerous. Green tents rule!!

    Thanks for several good hours reading!

  9. Actually; one meeting with a bad gamekeeper is inevitble. Some just try to pinch your breakfast! Or can’t find you all night! But I was younger then.

  10. Thinking back over the incident, it is easy to draw conclusions. However, what I fail to understand is not actually seeing anyone. Why the concealment?It could be that someone was in some form of hide and grew impatient when i sat down by the trig point and let off a shot as a means of scaring me off? Certainly the shot was extremely close. Also,there where more distance shots. so there where people plural, with guns on that hill that day.

    • As you say Dawn, it is easy to draw conclusions but the fact of the matter is that we both had guns fired in close proximity to us on the same day. The facts are the main thing to remember.

  11. I admit to not knowing the laws regarding access land and whether firearms are permitted on such (other than the quoted BASC code above), or what the vermin control duties of a keeper entail, but you’d think that common sense dictates that you should not be firing guns in a place called “access land” where someone could be walking, unseen. The fact that someone was, to me, means they were disregarding the safety of others. And the fact that they were nearby is certainly dangerous.

    James was very objective in describing the situation and did not accuse anyone of anything, but honestly the guy’s unwelcoming demeanor does not help his case.

    • Thanks Carli. Often in the UK if you mention that you are anti shooting / hunting then you are accused of being a ‘townie’ who does not understand the countryside. I’m personally anti hunting myself but spent the first 20 years of my life living in a very rural area before living in the city the past 20 years. I just don’t like guns full stop. I do however understand that shooting can be an important way of controlling vermin and that grouse shooting brings in important revenue to the rural economy. I’m just not keen to have a gun discharged in close proximity to me!

      • Yes and in the states if you don’t like guns, you are accused of being an “anti freedom,” unconstitutional liberal. I guess I just don’t think it matters when someone ends up hurt or worse. But to each their own I suppose.

  12. Since that incident I have been attempting to find out if legal shooting will be taking place when the season starts. Mike and I are heading over that way on the thirteenth. It is one of the hills on Mike’s little list. If there is shooting then obviously we will respect that and avoid the area. With well over twenty years of walking under my belt, this is only the second time I have experienced problems involving firearms.

    • Dawn, you may want to avoid the grouse moors on the 13th. The grouse season traditionally starts on the 12th but that is a Sunday, therefore the 13th will be the first day of shooting!

      • ,Hi, thanks, Mike is actually checking to see if there is shooting in that area on the Monday. If so I have an alternative route worked out. Mind, we could do it at night? However, common sense will prevail.

  13. Maybe the states is the only place with crazies who like to shoot places up and people down. Maybe there really was nothing to worry about in your case.

    • You don’t have the monopoly on shootings in the States. Unfortunately a young lad was shot dead a few months ago in my city. Nottingham once had the nickname Shottingham due to the gun crime. Thankfully things are improving.

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