Saturday, October 13, 2018

Sunday miscellany

For peace and thoughtfulness?

When I wandered into this temple at Eskdalemuir, it was empty except for a monk sitting in the top chair.  He was so still and silent that I thought he was a mannequin much to Paul's amusement.

Small things please me today, Radio3 interspersing its music with birdsong, my cardigan which I have been knitting for ages is almost done, my son and his friend are coming down from Bath next weekend.  There is one worrying factor on the horizon, but I keep my fingers crossed on that one. So I shall tackle the blog which I took off yesterday for fear of offending people ;)  It is to do with Marion Shoard, long time environmentalist and her crusade on the 'free to roam' campaign.  This is not a polemic against farmers, where would we be without them for goodness sake, but it is a slight diatribe about how the green signs for public right of ways are pulled down and the barbed wire goes up.

In fact, the British landowner's insistence on excluding the rest of us from his property seems to have more to do with a very British passion for possession than with practical realities. He seems to feel there is no point in owning land if you cannot exclude others from it. It is an attitude we can afford to countenance in our back gardens; but does it make sense to allow a single landowner to apply the same attitude to tens of thousands of acres when others want to visit them? Elsewhere in Europe, the British idea that an  individual can own the environment as completely as he owns his 12-bore or his Range Rover is met with disbelief.

So what do we miss,  it is the tracks and paths that went along the fields up by the farmhouses maybe, I can think of one at Bridge Farm for instance
Not just your upland moors, and designated areas, such as stately homes, 'pat the animal' farms, or adventure parks, but those fields round us, so invitingly beckoning, until you come up against the barbed wire.  Scotland is much easier I believe, though you might have an angry gamekeeper breathing down your neck, if you interfere with the shooting of grouse, deer etc.

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code provides detailed guidance on the exercise of the ancient tradition of universal access to land in Scotland, which was formally codified under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003. Under Scots law everyone has the right to be on most land and inland water for recreation, education and going from place to place providing they act responsibly. The basis of access rights in Scotland is one of shared responsibilities, in that those exercising such rights have to act responsibly, whilst landowners and managers have a reciprocal responsibility to respect the interests of those who exercise their rights. The code provides detailed guidance on these responsibilities. 

And yes I know the arguments farmers use to keep us off the land, dogs not under control, spoiling of crops but we do have some guidelines to follow.

  • Be safe - plan ahead and follow any signs
  • Leave gates and property as you find them
  • Protect plants and animals, and take your litter home
  • Keep dogs under close control
  • Consider other people

 Not sure of what triggered thinking about access to the land, perhaps it is the wires I encounter when walking.  One of the arguments farmers use is of course 'you would not like someone walking through your back garden' as most gardens are small and fenced from their neighbours it would hardly be practical anyway and is a silly argument.

As farms enlarge their fields, we are almost talking prairie fields here, the ability to follow a chosen public path becomes a bit of an obstacle, and to be quite honest a rather worthless exercise in dullness so maybe walking in such places would be useless.

Anyway Marion Shoard has turned her thinking to getting old and written a couple of books on that, especially care homes.  Now would you rather go into a care home or live in a commune of elderly residents I wonder?  Her writing on the subject.

Edgelands  How did I get here? by reading the Urban Historian

For Music................
Listen to the gentle Yorkshire voice of  Kate Rusby if you don't want to read ;)


  1. I wondered where your post had gone Thelma when I clicked on to read it and found it not there.
    Interesting topics today.
    First access to land. Luckily our farm had a footpath running right through it so we never had that problem and quite often folk would stray off it and leave by the field gate to make their walk shorter. The farmer enjoyed chatting to them. Also we used to find that once the cows and calves were out for the summer folk tended to avoid those fields as they were wary of the cattle.
    But here I walk Tess across the estate as far as a stile into the fields. Here there is a footpath that provides a good round walk (too far for me to walk) and there is a sign which says folk are welcome to walk at any time but to please keep their dogs on the leash because of the cattle. No-one does - most folk on the estate take off the leash as they get to the stile and the dogs race away, obviously enjoying every minute. Sometimes sheep are worried. So I can see both sides of the argument.
    As to Homes versus Communities when one is old - well communities wins hands down. I play with a ukulele band in a retirement home - one of the best in the area where folk are reputedly very happy. In a couple of weeks (Hallowe'en) I am 86 but I look on the idea of ending up in there with horror and will fight tooth and nail to stay in my own home and pay for care here if it is possible.

  2. We have one round walk here, two fields by the river that are left to grass. And I am sure it is different in many parts of the country, so it is only a general observation.
    I agree wholeheartedly in not ending up in a care home, there are other ways to approach the problem, think I might read Shoard on the subject.


Love having comments!