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Author Topic: British Isles Trails  (Read 1018 times)

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Trekker Forrest

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British Isles Trails
« on: January 24, 2013, 03:21:08 PM »

I've been reading about hiking and backpacking in the British Isles.  This particular article begins by focusing on The Dales Way, a 76 mile trail through the Yorkshires in England, but it expands to talk about all 720 long distance trails, totalling 150,000 miles, and the laws protecting them.  Most of the trails were built by the Romans to allow their soldiers to move around and farmers to bring produce to market. Eventually, "Right To Roam" laws were passed guaranteeing permanent rights of way for the public.  Under Richard the Lionheart in 1190 the Footpaths Act was passed governing the right of the public to walk across private land.  In 1826 the Law for the Preservation of Ancient Footpaths was passed to guide courts in judging cases.  It binds both parties.  Landowners must not park wagons or vehicles, build brushpiles, tether horses or otherwise block public paths.  They must clear downed trees or rockslides and not allow livestock or dogs onto the paths to harass walkers.  Meanwhile, walkers may not litter, leave the trails, bring unleashed dogs or other animals, camp, build fires or shout or make other unnecessary noise.  The Crown, through its designated local trail councils, owns the treadway two spades deep.  It is responsible for maintaining bridges, gates, steps and staircases.  The Access to Countryside Act in 1945 further codified walkers' rights, especially where trails passed through towns and directly adjacent to homes, farm buildings and modern developments.  Occasionally, property owners have challenged these laws.  Madonna, who for some reason bought an estate in England, sued, arguing that walkers represented a threat to her personal security and demanded restrictions on access rights.  The Court ruled against her, saying that the public right of way across her property was 1000 years old and was clearly stated in the covenant included in her deed; if her real estate agent had not made her aware of it she should take her grievance to him but not bother the Court with it.  One interesting passage : "In America, the hiker's biggest problem is generally isolation.  It can be a week between towns on such trails as their Appalachian, so travellers need a week's worth of food, water and equipment, requiring a pack of between 30-60 pounds, quite a load to haul up and down hills.  The British hiker, by contrast, is rarely far from a bed and breakfast where sweaty clothes can be shed, showers taken, and full dinners and breakfasts provided.  No wonder Walking is the most popular leisure activity in Britain, with 46% of the population engaging in it each week, whereas in America only 18% partake of it on a weekly basis."  The article mentions an E6 Trail, which runs from Finland down through Eastern Europe to the shores of the Aegean Sea in Greece .  It is maintained by the European Ramblers Association.  It also mentions Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, who is an avid hiker and spends her weekends and Summer vacations hiking.  Lots of food for thought here.
« Last Edit: January 24, 2013, 03:23:48 PM by Trekker Forrest »
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Re: British Isles Trails
« Reply #1 on: January 25, 2013, 01:21:22 PM »

Yes. Good stuff. Visited Scotland, England, and Wales many years back and spent a fair amount of time talking (mostly with the Scots) about right to roam. It's definitely a part of the culture.  Love it.
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