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August 2020

At Walkingworld we do our utmost to ensure that you can stay 'on the right path' and don't find yourself straying off it. If that sounds vaguely religious then Nick Hayes, whose 'The Book of Trespass' has just been published, would argue that it's no accident. For the Church is just one of the authorities that has aided and abetted the accumulation of much of our land in just a few hands, where it is kept for private use alone.

Nick Hayes is an unapologetic 'right to roam' campaigner so the book pulls no punches and he's not averse to a bit of trespassing to make his point. His illegal forays onto the estates of mostly aristocratic landowners, where he and his friends often light a campfire and bed down for the night, will make some uneasy just in the recounting. But that is partly his point - that the barriers that keep us from crossing onto private land are as much in the mind as real-life fences, gates and 'Keep Out' signs.

The book is a good, and often amusing, overview of the history of land ownership and the various ways it has been 'purloined' and enclosed, from the time of William the Conqueror onwards. Hayes is also a talented illustrator and the pictures which accompany the text are delightful. Whether you agree with his arguments - well that may depend which side of the fence you are on.

The system of designated public rights of way that we have in England and Wales - unlike in Scotland which does have a form of 'right to roam' - does have some advantages, in that there is a clear obligation on the part of landowners to keep those paths open. You can also find them easily on a map. For some that will always be a benefit, possibly overriding the right to wander wherever you want.

Exploring the meadows
If you prefer something less controversial for reading matter, we have been enjoying a book that has been out for a few years now, 'Meadowland' by John Lewis-Stempel. Focusing on a single patch of his own land, and the flowers, grasses, animals and birds that inhabit it, the author describes its transition through each month of the year. In fact it's the sort of book you might want to read month by month, so you keep in time with the changes to the flora and fauna.

Meanwhile if you would like some help identifying the wildflowers in a northern meadow, The Friends of the Lake District have released a short video guide by local cameraman Jon Chappell. The Film Guide to the Wildflowers of the Westmorland Dales covers nineteen of the most common meadow plants found in the north of England; you can either watch the full compilation or pick them out one by one.  

Reporting changes
Talking of keeping paths open, please do take advantage of the 'Report changes' function in the Walkingworld app. There's a discreet link on each waymark at the very bottom of the page. Just select this link and you can take or choose a new picture from your picture library and edit or add notes to the waymark instructions.

We have had hundreds of amendments submitted since the function was added to the app. Sometimes it's just the change of a stile into a gate, the loss of a tree or a path diversion, but it all helps to keep the guides up to date and easier to follow.

Member news

Jim Grindle has been contributing walks to Walkingworld almost from the very beginning. His first walk is ID139. In almost every sense our top contributor Jim has just romped past another milestone, his 600th walk on Walkingworld. Those who have followed his routes will appreciate the care with which they are put together and maintained. Other contributors, however, have been known to complain that they have been 'grindled' - the official term for thinking of a really good walk to submit, only to discover that Jim has already done it. They may curse us for saying it, but long may such grindling continue.