Permissive Society and Paths


“Get off my land!”


If you have been reading this blog you will know how much I enjoy a walk or a run in the countryside. In particular, I love woods. So this weekend, my wife, our youngest daughter and myself set off on a walk.

It was raining, miserable, it was England on the first day of October. It was either a walk with the chance of getting sodden or staying in side with the certainty of having our spirits dampened. We chose the walk.

The East Riding of Yorkshire is a wonderful place with lots of hidden walks and pathways to tramp along if tramping is your thing. We decided to tramp on this wet Sunday morning to save us from absolute boredom. No matter what some may tell you, Sunday is not a day of rest, it is a day of unrest. Just around the temporal corner, the beginning of a new week is at hand. It will arrive with the certainty of a steam-train. Actually, steam-trains do not tend to arrive any longer and often ordinary trains are cancelled, but I hope you get my inconclusive drift for the purposes of this piece.

On the topic of sayings, made up or not, an old one goes something like this:

“Every Englishman’s home is his castle.”

I don’t fully agree with this, but I do think that the countryside should not be owned by a few at the expense of the many.  We have this thing called, ‘The Right to Roam’ which is, in  a nutshell, the right to roam or the freedom to walk in open countryside away from any paths. … In Scotland, walkers have a more extensive right to roam compared to England and Wales. In fact, Scotland has some of the best access rights in the world.

Open access symbol

But I live in England!


The English can be bastards when it comes to rights and trespassing. The landed gentry thinks that the country belongs to them. They’re not that wrong as it is thought that well over 90% belongs to less than 3% of the population. And it appears that the descendants of William The Conqueror and his invading mates still own those rights. I am a Robin Hood type of fellow, not through my love of wearing green tights, but though my belief that the rich should not have it all their own way.

“Feared by the rich,

Loved by the good.

Robin Hood,

Robin Hood,

Robing Hood.”   


To cut to the tale.

Some minor landowner, who had just built his new house next to an old pathway used by ramblers and residents of the village in which they lived, had decided that he would lay claim to the said path. He, in his selfish cunning, had discovered that it was not a dedicated ‘Right of Way’ so he just decided to fence it off. A big bloody fence at that. So, my wife, my youngest daughter and myself decided to check his resolve. We approached the said fence as he was approaching us from behind. He didn’t have a gun or a savage dog, but he was a somewhat surly type.

“Your’e on private land,” he announced. “Did you not see the signs?”

” I thought they had been painted by children,” I replied. “Surely, this is a public right of way.”

As it turned out, it was not a designated Public Right of Way, hence his ‘Land-grab’. If this had been in the American West, pre 1896, there would have been a showdown. In East Yorkshire, circa 2017, there wasn’t; just uncomfortable communication.


Robin Hood Prince of Thieves


I dreamt last night of setting fire to that fence.





3 thoughts on “Permissive Society and Paths

Add yours

  1. It happens in Dewsbury. When we emigrated, next door put up a great big gate that blocked our old house’s right of way to the rear of the property.
    I wrote and informed the new owner that it was on the title deeds (the footpath right of way).
    Dunno what the outcome was, not been back since.

    Liked by 1 person

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