Newsletter > Newsletter archive > March 2012

March 2012

The right way forward?
Bridleway signThe Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has just published its views on public footpaths and public access to land. The long-windedly titled ‘The Right Way Forward: The CLA’s common sense approach to access in the countryside’ makes fascinating reading for any student of the history of our landscape. The tone of the report, which veers between the hectoring and the plaintive, does its arguments no favours. Rather unsuprisingly, the Ramblers and other environmental groups have denounced it roundly, saying that it goes back on previous agreements over improvements to rights of way legislation.

The sense of injustice that seeps out of every page reminds one that, only a little over a century ago, landowners literally ran the country. In that relatively short period of time, the landowning class has suffered a massive pegging back of its fortunes. It’s interesting then, that the report harks back just 12 years to the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW) as marking “a watershed in the balance between public and private rights”. According to the CLA the “Act granted the public a right of access to certain areas of land but did not make provision for compensation for any losses incurred by the owner of that land as a result of that provision. A core tenet of private property rights had been broken.”

Of course the real watershed between public and private rights occurred 200 or more years ago, when huge areas of common land were enclosed and effectively privatised. Enclosures brought with them much more narrowly defined rights of way, many of which went from homestead to homestead and hence took travellers right into and through farmyards and settlements. These are the very pathways that the CLA would now like the ‘right’ to divert, as and when the landowner wishes.

Actually many walkers would rather not traipse through mucky yards dodging tractors and animals, and would much prefer to take a less intrusive way round on a pleasant field path. The vast majority of landowners, likewise, have perfectly reasonable desires to make the paths through their property safe and enjoyable for the public. Unfortunately there will always be a few whose motives are less benign, and for that simple reason such diversions have to be the outcome of negotiation and not of right. On one thing the CLA is correct and that is that this process relies on well-staffed footpaths teams in our local councils. There’s a risk then that their call to cut back on ‘red tape’ will chime with Government thinking; for that reason alone we should take note of what they are demanding.

Great walking on Alderney
Alderney Cliff WalkWith over 50 miles of walks and paths taking you across commons, beaches, along the cliffs and around town, the best way to discover Alderney is on foot. The south coast is mainly dramatic cliff walks, dotted with Victorian and German fortifications and the northwest coastline (towards the bird sanctuary island of Burhou) is designated a RAMSAR site. Along the north and east coast can be found golden beaches interspersed with picturesque Victorian forts and the occasional reminder of the German occupation during WWII.

You can join one of the many interesting guided walks - ranging from town walks, history, heritage and bird watching tours to nocturnal bat walks which are organised by the Alderney Wildlife Trust.

Alderney Visitor Information Centre tel. 01481 823737 or 822333, email. info@visitalderney.com
Alderney Wildlife Trust tel. 01481 822935, email: info@alderneywildlife.org

Win a fabulous walking holiday in Portugal
Zambujeira beachInntravel is offering you and a friend the chance to win a fabulous self-guided walking holiday that explores the wild and unspoiled coastal landscapes of south-west Portugal’s little-known Costa Vicentina. On this spectacular walk, the beauty of Europe’s largest coastal natural park is revealed – virgin beaches backed by dunes and rugged cliffs, washed by dramatic seas. The sunsets over the Atlantic are simply glorious, and by day the plentiful sunshine shows the colours of the landscape to best effect: the white-and-blue houses, turquoise sea, honey-coloured cliffs, red fishing boats, golden sands, green cliff-tops…

With no group to hold you back and no luggage to weigh you down, you can explore at your own pace and discover places others won’t. If this sounds like your kind of holiday, all you have to do is click here to enter the competition for a chance to win this fantastic prize. Full terms and conditions can be found on the Inntravel website, www.inntravel.co.uk.

Village to Village walking in the Pyrenees
Pyrenees sceneThis superb itinerary from Hike Pyrenees explores the tranquil villages of the Spanish Pyrenees. Each day’s walk features fantastic views and you get a real sense of journey as you head up the valley and into the higher mountains. You’ll stay at charming family run hotels with great food in small traditional Pyrenean villages with narrow winding streets centred around medieval churches.

There are plenty of options with several days having a choice of an easier or harder route. Maps and detailed route descriptions are provided and they transport your luggage each day meaning you just have to walk with a small daypack. Hike Pyrenees offer this itinerary as either a guided or as a self guided holiday.

Visit the Hike Pyrenees website - www.hikepyrenees.co.uk - to find out more or give them a call on 0208 123 5049.

New Scafell Pike Five Peaks Challenge for Marie Curie
Marie Curie walkersAfter 22 years of successfully climbing the Yorkshire Three Peaks, Marie Curie Cancer Care has a brand new mountain challenge event for 2012 that will push your limits even further. In one day, participants will hike through 11.5 miles of rugged terrain to scale five of the Lake District’s highest mountains, including England’s tallest mountain, Scafell Pike. As a true test for any walker, why not challenge yourself to take part in the event and raise money to support Marie Curie Nurses in your area. For more information or to register today, visit the website or call 08700 340 040.

40% off maps
With the onset of some glorious weather & Easter just round the corner, Above and Beyond bring Walkingworld’s outdoor enthusiasts another great saving: 40% off all Ordnance Survey maps until the 15th April. This offer extends right across the range of OS’s leisure maps including paper and weatherproof versions of the Explorers and Landrangers as well as Road and Tour titles. To use the discount please redeem coupon code OS40 at checkout – just visit www.aboveandbeyond.co.uk

New West Highland Way website
The Milngavie Tourist Information Office has created a website specially dedicated to all things West Highland Way. The website (www.westhighlandwayinfo.com) provides extensive information on Scotland’s most popular long-distance route plus accommodation and baggage transfer packages with West Highland Way Holidays. The newest feature is the West Highland Way Forum which invites new and experienced wayfarers to share their thoughts, experiences and knowledge of this long distance route.

Charity challenges
The Bala Challenge Charity Walk (12th May) has as its major beneficiaries the North Wales Air Ambulance, Mountain Rescue Service and other local good causes. More details

Gerard Varin hopes to raise 20k with an epic walk all the way to Switzerland. 275 miles in England, 448 in France and 16 in Switzerland, over the course of a month. He aims to raise the money for the Breast Cancer Campaign. www.anglo-suisse.net

Christian Aid are seeking funds to help people in Ethiopia who are forced to use water sources that are a huge health risk. Women are mainly responsible for collecting water, and some spend up to 12 hours a day doing so. The Hadrian’s Wall Weekend Trek (29th June - 1st July) is a 2 day trek from Lanercost Priory and runs 25 miles along the only remaining section of the wall. The Holy Island Night Hike (23rd-24th June) is a true test of stamina walking 26 miles through the night along St Cuthbert’s way. This is a historic Pilgrimage path that links where St Cuthbert started and finished his Ministry. More information

Member news
Last September Roger Mechan walked the 480 mile Camino Frances or the Way of St James across Northern Spain. If you have ever contemplated this route you can can get a flavour by flicking through his online book.

Peter Wright’s book ‘Ribbon of Wildness - Discovering the Watershed of Scotland’ continues to attract plaudits. The recent review in Undiscovered Scotland has generated a lot of interest, and brought this very original book to the attention of ever wider audiences. The free talks programme that Peter delivers has been picked up by well over 100 groups and organisations throughout Scotland - from Langholm to Lairg, and Wigtown to Wick.