A Right to Roam
A Right to Roam
Published - 1999
Publisher - Oxford University Press
No. Pages - 440
ISBN - 0-19-288016-0
Available in Public Libraries
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The countryside with its mountains and moors, woods, fields and parks, rivers and beaches offers a wealth of opportunities for spiritual refreshment which are not only unique: they are also free. Yet British citizens are barred from enjoying countless harmless pleasures that only the outdoors can bring through our antiquated law of trespass and landowners’ desire to bar people rather than welcome them in. Restrictions on access to the countryside affect not only our freedom to use the outdoors: they also affect our idea of our land and its economic value.
Up until the early years of this century, Lancashire’s vast private grouse moor, the Forestry of Bowland, had been almost all off-limits to ordinary walkers. The Blair government’s ‘right to roam’ legislation, the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, created a legal right for anybody to go there. Now the descendents of people who gazed longingly at Bowland’s magnificent heathery heights can scale them.
But the Blair law confined itself (illogically and mistakenly) to opening up less than 10 per cent of the land of England and Wales – just that consisting of moors, mountains, heaths, down and commons. Why not woods and other types of countryside, as in Scotland?
In A Right to Roam, I work out the extent of access on foot to the countryside of the UK. I examine the arguments put forward by landowners for restricting access and the ways in which access systems operate overseas. I put forward a detailed plan of how a general right of access on foot to the countryside of the UK could work on the ground.
Detailed proposals covering everything from landowners’ liability to ways in which any conflicts between different uses might be reconciled remain as relevant as ever.
This book received the Outdoor Writers and Photographers Guild’s Book of the Year Award in 2000.