/ Scottish Access Laws
Sorry if this is a long post.
Was hill walking today in eastern Ochils. Drove up single track road until came to a sign near a farm saying "Access Only". I assumed [mistakenly I fear] that this meant road did not go beyond farm. Drove on a couple of hundred metres and found a parking space [not a passing place] totally off the road. Further down the road was a similar parking space with a sign saying it was only for farm vehicles. I would never have parked at second spot or at place I chose if there had been a sign like this.
Road became a wide track, suitable for land rovers etc which went through farm and continued for 2K+ into the hills. Track is well marked on OS map. My pal and followed track and had a fine circuit, arriving back at farm 4/5 hours later. A lady was cutting grass in farmhouse garden but stopped to interrogate us. What were we doing? [Returning from a hill walk.] Why had I parked my car where I did? [It was only place I could find to park.] Did I not know the Scottish Access laws? - In particular, parking where I did and walking through her "steading" earlier. I apologised, said we meant no harm / had done no harm, and promised never to be back near her farm. The lady continued to chastise me. I continued to apologise. Eventually I asked her what more I could do. Parted on fairly amicable terms but when I reached my car a brand new "No Parking" sign had been erected + A note had been left on my windscreen saying, among other things, "Please remove vehicle immediately and refrain from parking here."
I accept that I was wrong to park where I did, although absolutely no harm was done. However, I always thought it was OK in Scotland to walk through a farmyard [steading?], especially on a track which continues for several K. I have done this on countless occasions and never had any problem. Have I been breaking the Scottish Access laws for years?
Surprisingly vague and confusing resource rather reflecting the legislation.
My impression (in Scotland) is of a rise in ‘git orf my land’ types in the last 10 years. My attitude is that if there’s no alternative route signed I’ll go through the yard. If an objector is polite, I’ll explain this to them and the info is usually well received. If the objector is arsey I smile to acknowledge them but otherwise ignore them continuing on my way (they’re usually after an argument). If obstructive I film them on my phone which tends to quieten them down (based on one single experience). Can’t recall any recent issues in England where the law’s much clearer.
Thanks. It would appear that it is not permitted to walk through farm buildings. However, I can assure you that I have walked through farm buildings for years, often exchanging a cheery "Hello" with the farmer. Often the only way to access a hill is through farm buildings. Sometimes farms such as the one at the foot of Ben More direct walkers round the farm. This was not the case today. If my pal and I had not walked through the farm buildings we could not have accessed the hills. This would seem to against the "right to roam" in Scotland. In future I think I'll ask for permission first.
Thanks, Toccata. Good advice.
From the code as opposed to the legislation. Given from your description it was the only way on to the hill and the track carried on you were almost certainly covered by the previous 'customary' access clause.
Right wing landowners are increasingly trying it on, they are no longer scared of the SNP, in fact they have one of thier own in the form of Fergus Ewing as a Rural Economy Minister. They also know councils are too strapped to take issue with more than a handful of cases at best, and most access forums are skewed toward the landed lobby. The later problem is of our own making as very few members of the general public have any interest in taking part.
As regards your car you've got no right to park it on someone's land without permission.
But if you are walking on a path on the O/S map which goes through a farmyard and they've not provided an alternative you're following the code and they shouldn't be hassling you.
"Although access rights do not extend to farmyards, many people take access through farmyards when following paths and tracks.
if a right of way or core path goes through a farmyard, you can follow this at any time
if a reasonable, passable alternative route is signposted around the farmyard and buildings, then you should follow this.
In the absence of a right of way, core path or reasonable, signposted route around the farmyard and buildings, you:
might be able to go through the farmyard if the farmer is content or if access has been taken on a customary basis in the past; or you
could exercise your access rights to go around the farmyard and buildings."
You're right about the public lack of action in such maters.
Many people complain bitterly about things on-line, often following it up with the statement; "Someone should complain".
I often reply with "Who should? or, "Have you?"
> From the code as opposed to the legislation. Given from your description it was the only way on to the hill and the track carried on you were almost certainly covered by the previous 'customary' access clause.
Thanks. Missed this when I read the Access guide. I'm sure that this was the case on my walk.
Thanks. Confirms I was OK to go through farm yard.
I realise that I've no right to park on private property. I'm very careful not to do this. Earlier in the day I'd asked for permission to park next to a building on land which I suspect was not part of the building. Permission was politely refused so I didn't argue and moved on. Yesterday I made a genuine mistake. I didn't realise I was on private property. I avoided parking at a spot a couple of hundred yards away which had a "No parking" sign. The "No parking" sign was screwed into a tree where I parked when I was already up in the hills.
As I approach the age of 70 one of my aims when hill walking is to avoid confrontation. What annoyed me yesterday was that despite apologising several times and promising I'd never do anything like that again in the area the lady wouldn't let it go and kept giving me a ticking off, albeit in a polite manner. This actually made it more annoying.
> You're right about the public lack of action in such maters.
> Many people complain bitterly about things on-line, often following it up with the statement; "Someone should complain".
> I often reply with "Who should? or, "Have you?"
I'll drop a note to my constituency MSP.
The council access officer for the area is the correct person to write to.
Sorry to hear this. I'm pretty sure that Friends of the Ochils would be interested to know about it: https://www.friendsoftheochils.org.uk/
Was it in the Carnbo area? There have been occasional access issues in those parts. The main block of the Ochils, west of the Devon/Eagles road, rarely seems to produce any problems.
Thanks. That's who I'll contact.
Indeed it was, Dave. I'm aware that there have been problems in this area. To be fair, met some farm workers in the hills yesterday who couldn't have been friendlier. I'll contact Friends of the Ochils right now.
Friends of the Ochils contacted. There's a lot to be said for sticking to Ben Cleuch.
> There's a lot to be said for sticking to Ben Cleuch.
Indeed, although those smaller eastern bumps (of which there are lots) are nice in their own way. Re Ben Cleuch, earlier this year I had one of my occasional from-the-north ascents - from Blackford by the Glen Bee pass and sneaking into the Frandy reservoir system at its upper end, then using some of the windfarm tracks to get on to Ben Buck. Along as far as Andrew Gannel, then down to the upper dam (a nice spot) and back out to Blackford from there. Always a nice round, must do it more often - feels quite Borders-like, very different from the regular Hillfoot approaches.
I've never been Cleuch from Blackford. I've always thought of it as a linear walk from Blackford to Hillfoots. I'm going to study this route on map and give it a go soon. Thanks for the tip.
A couple of thoughts about this sort of incident.
As has been said, writing to MSP and Access Officer is about all you can do; don’t expect much of a positive outcome but it is a dripping tap. Whether we can get out into the countryside or not is political and things won’t improve unless politicians have to spend time thinking about it.
The rights of landowners under the Access Code to exclude access for “management” purposes or from curtilages do not extend to Rights of Way. Blocking such a RoW without a path diversion order is an offence of criminal obstruction. One of our biggest problems is discovering where the RoW actually are, as this is not easy to discover due to past lobbying from the landowners.
According to their 2019 Annual Report, Scotways have a maintenance project on the go just now, where they want to check the condition of every RoW. If you contact their office, tell them which part of the country you are interested in, and volunteer to do some checking, they will send you a sketch map showing where the RoW are. Then you can be a bit more certain on whether you have a right to transit a particular curtilage, or not.
Thanks for that. All I have done so far is to contact Friends of the Ochils, a pressure group which deal with issues such as this within the Ochils area. I'm a bit disappointed that they haven't got back to me.
Just one small thing for the avoidance of doubt .
You say through farm buildings. I think you mean between ? I’m sure you do However some dimwhit reading a statement may not
Yes. I should have said "between".
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