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  • The Trespasser’s Companion – A field guide to reclaiming what is already ours
  • Premier Icon stwhannah
    Full Member

    TLDR: I love this book, and I want you to read it. ‘The Trespasser’s Companion – A field guide to reclaiming what is already ours’, is a call to recon …

    By stwhannah

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    The Trespasser’s Companion – A field guide to reclaiming what is already ours

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    Premier Icon jeffl
    Full Member

    Recently read the author’s previous effort, The Book of Trespass. Not read the latest one yet. Previous book was an interesting read, feel sorry for canoeists as they have even less access rights than MTBers.

    Quite a lot of hippy stuff in which I’ll be honest I skipped over as I wasn’t stoned or drunk, but maybe that’s just me.

    As Hannah says it’s definitely aimed at walkers, be interesting to see what the Author’s thoughts are on riding bikes on footpaths.

    Following the lockdowns and riding local I’ve definitely taken to riding more footpaths when it’s suitable to do so. Only bother I’ve ever had was someone telling me that I couldn’t ride my bike down a gravel road, whch was a footpath, and leads to a bunch of houses. The irony that she was driving a sodding car down it was somewhat lost on her 😂

    Premier Icon gazzab1955
    Full Member

    @jeffl very similar to your “lady in car” story …..
    While on my MTB ride this morning I came across two ladies riding horses towards me on a Bridleway in Moreton Forest, I politely pulled off the track so that they could get past and said good morning.
    1st lady (in a very posh voice) “you shouldn’t be riding a bike on this bridleway”
    me “it’s a bridleway so actually I can ride on it”
    1st lady “well you shouldn’t be”
    me “well if I can’t ride my bike on it then you shouldn’t be riding your horses on it either”
    1st lady “ummm, errr, well, errrrr, ummmmmm …. well I don’t think you should be”
    2nd lady (even posher voice) “well lets just agree to disagree shall we”
    We went our separate ways with me wondering what time portal I had slipped thru to be in a Jane Austen novel where only the landed gentry are allowed to use the bridleways on their horses.

    Premier Icon matt_outandabout
    Full Member

    You English are weird…
    😉

    Premier Icon nickc
    Full Member

    Yep.

    Premier Icon binman
    Full Member

    You English are weird…

    Even the ones that live in Scotland 😜

    You forgot about Wales….. 😬

    It is very weird country when it comes to inherited landowners… yet it seems to be accepted. Especially the tax breaks for access….

    Premier Icon kayak23
    Full Member

    Really interested in this. As a long time kayaker, access has been a conversation since forever.

    I’ve been chased down a Welsh river by an irate farmer and more recently in This thread on stw I was physically barged and jostled by three female farmers from pushing my bike along a footpath.

    Makes me so angry that there is so much of this country I cannot access because of rich landowners.

    Mind you, you’ve kind of put me off buying this book if I’m honest 😂
    I agree, it looks as if it’s just preaching to the converted.

    Premier Icon Spin
    Free Member

    You English are weird

    This. Or at least the access laws are. What’s even weirder is how many people will leap to the defence of such an outmoded and restrictive system.

    Premier Icon dovebiker
    Free Member

    While on my MTB ride this morning I came across two ladies riding horses towards me on a Bridleway in Moreton Forest, I politely pulled off the track so that they could get past and said good morning…

    Obviously, you didn’t doff your cap/ tug your forelock get down on your knees to show your appreciation for your betters…/sarcasm

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Full Member

    The sad thing is that access is better here than in some other places.

    One thing I like about South East Wales is that no-one really cares down here. The ‘mountains’ between the Valleys are seen as public domain even if they aren’t.

    Premier Icon Blackflag
    Free Member

    that horse story has just put me in a bad mood.

    Premier Icon DickBarton
    Full Member

    That horse story has made me laugh out loud…mainly due to the thinking…very amusing. However, it is a really daft thought process…

    Premier Icon thegeneralist
    Full Member

    Great that you’re reviewing stuff like this Hannah. So much more interesting than the “look I found this £4,000 chainset in rainbow colours” tat that we’ve seen recently.

    Alas I gotta partly agree with kayak23 when he says

    Mind you, you’ve kind of put me off buying this book if I’m honest 😂

    The hippy, lefty, flowery bit sounds a bit much!

    And of course the title…. why would you write a book that pedants can’t buy…. can I borrow yours?
    🤔

    Premier Icon stwhannah
    Full Member

    @kayak23 and @thegeneralist Don’t let me put you off! I think there’s enough fact and history stuff in there that you can skip over the flowery bits and still have plenty to read. I definitely learnt a lot and thought a lot about stuff from different perspectives, and it’s not like access is a new subject for me.

    Premier Icon stwhannah
    Full Member

    @kayak23 and @thegeneralist Don’t let me put you off! I think there’s enough fact and history stuff in there that you can skip over the flowery bits and still have plenty to read. I definitely learnt a lot and thought a lot about stuff from different perspectives, and it’s not like access is a new subject for me.

    Premier Icon bearGrease
    Free Member

    @kayak23 I’m with you there. I’ve been a paddler since I was a wee boy and been chased off rivers all over the UK. The Seoint trespass was nearly forty years ago and we still have campaigns like PeakPaddle fighting to get our fair share. Cyclists don’t know how lucky they are wrt access.

    Premier Icon IdleJon
    Full Member

    From the article:

    Is walking – or canoeing – the only permissible fun, because they’re the only activities that leave no trace?

    We really need to stop buying into that, because, just like us bikers, when more than one or two walkers start walking through an area they start leaving a trace on the ground. Normally, a very obvious track which is then followed by other people. The non-biking trails through the countryside didn’t appear by magic.

    Premier Icon esselgruntfuttock
    Free Member

    We’ve had the ‘you shouldn’t be on here’ on the Helvellyn ridge but with redsocks. ‘you shouldn’t be on here’, ‘its a bridleway, we’re perfectly entitled to be here’, ‘well you shouldn’t be’. Etc etc, for about 15 minutes.

    Premier Icon thegeneralist
    Full Member

    I’ve been a paddler since I was a wee boy and been chased off rivers all over the UK. The Seoint trespass was nearly forty years ago and we still have campaigns like PeakPaddle fighting to get our fair share. Cyclists don’t know how lucky they are wrt access.

    Interesting. Whilst that was true about 20 years ago, hasn’t it moved on a bit in the kayaking world? In a way very similar to what I am doing WRT mountain biking.

    I recall when paddlers would police each other on the Dart, and give grief if people didn’t have passes. Then sense prevailed and people just paddled stuff when it was up and they were free.

    All the ” No canoeing ” stuff was essentially ignored.

    Having said which, I stopped paddling soon after so am not up to date.

    Have paddlers effectively set aside the rules/restrictions or am I imagining it?

    Premier Icon sl2000
    Full Member

    What’s even weirder is how many people will leap to the defence of such an outmoded and restrictive system.

    This! What’s with the “you wouldn’t want someone walking through your garden” crowd?

    Premier Icon kelvin
    Full Member

    My stock answer is yes. Yes, they’re welcome to walk through my garden… there’s only one place to go… straight up to my front door to knock on it or post something through it.

    Premier Icon feed
    Full Member

    I was away in Madeira recently and mountain biking with a group of English lads.

    Out for beers one night and I raised the topic of access rights and how compliant English mountain bikers are with the “rules” re where it’s permitted to ride.

    in Ireland most land is privately owned, owned by semi-state forestry companies, or national parklands. Until recently (10-15 yrs ago) there was nowhere that bikes could be “officially” ridden off road. We all just completely ignored the rules \ regulations and cycled\built trails wherever we wanted.

    But in England most mountain bikers are so compliant, the argument seems to be that you need to work with governing bodies etc. to improve the situation or else current permissions might be revoked. But if you don’t care about what “permissions” you’re “granted” then it doesn’t matter what’s revoked. Just a different attitude I suppose.

    The other interesting point was what happens when you get in to a “confrontation” with other trail user groups. English lads were explaining how they’d discuss the situation with the other party etc.

    We’d (well I’m worse than most others) would normally just tell the angry other to get the f*ck out of my way and I’d carry on. My point being, that you’re never going to change someone else’s entrenched opinion (they won’t change mine and I won’t change theirs) so a discussion is pointless. Also, the person who stops you to give out is looking for something to be angry about so I’ve made them happier by giving them something to complain about later to anyone willing to waste their time listening 🙂

    Just to clarify, I’m very polite with other trail user groups, pulling over to let horses, walkers, runners pass, it’s only if someone is looking for an argument that above attitude kicks in.

    Premier Icon nickjb
    Free Member

    What’s even weirder is how many people will leap to the defence of such an outmoded and restrictive system.

    I wouldn’t say I’m leaping to defend the system but it’s mostly fine. I ride footpaths, forest tracks, animal trails, anything really. Have done for 30+ years and had ‘trouble’ a handful of times, and by trouble that’s someone saying I shouldn’t be there and me riding away. Yes I’d like more legitimate access, but also the law is pretty toothless on this matter. A reasonable status quo.

    Premier Icon MrAgreeable
    Full Member

    I’ve just got started on this, but I loved his previous book and I think Hannah is being a tad unfair on this one.

    There’s a whole load of people out there on all sides of the political spectrum who just accept English and Welsh access law for what it is – they want to preserve the countryside, they see access as part of that, and the idea that it upholds vested interests and contributes to social inequality isn’t really on their radar. If you go along to a rights of way or parish council meeting, you’ll meet loads of people like this – folk who are often dissatisfied with their access to the countryside, but view the current system as a necessary evil.

    What this book does is try and unpick that (the author calls it “unspelling”) with a view to reforming it. So I don’t think it’s as redundant as all that.

    Regarding the impact of mountain biking, yes, we have some, but there’s no evidence to suggest we are any worse than other users of the countryside. You’re basically rolling around the hills on a pair of soft rubber cushions, not chewing through them like an open-cast mining machine.

    Illegal trail building is bad in the wrong place, but in others it’s a valid response to a lack of legitimate places to ride. This makes for interesting reading: https://www.bikecorris.co.uk/journal/2021/5/7/wild-trails-in-wales

    Premier Icon BadlyWiredDog
    Full Member

    But in England most mountain bikers are so compliant, the argument seems to be that you need to work with governing bodies

    I’m not entirely convinced this is the case. The reality, is that you can ride mostly where you want – at least as far as footpaths are concerned – as long as you’re considerate about it and don’t provoke confrontation.

    It’s a bit like smoking weed these days – as far as I can tell – you technically shouldn’t do it, but in reality, no-one gives a stuff.

    Finally, the idea that walkers ‘leave no trace’ is laughable, as the endless slabbed sections of the Pennine Way and massive Lake District erosion scars evidence.

    Premier Icon dyna-ti
    Free Member

    Finally, the idea that walkers ‘leave no trace’ is laughable, as the endless slabbed sections of the Pennine Way and massive Lake District erosion scars evidence.

    Yeah, walking footpaths that are two miles wide.

    Premier Icon eddd
    Free Member

    Clearly an important issue, looks worth a read. I will say that access in the UK does seem better than Quebec (everything is rigorously controlled, especially national parks) and France (far more conflict, especially with hinters who are a real problem).

    I’m not so keen on the tone of the article, Hannah seems to be doing her best to alienate the people she claims to want to bring on board.

    Premier Icon kayak23
    Full Member

    Well, I’ve actually ordered the first one, ‘The Book of Trespass’ so we’ll see how that one is.
    Some of the reviews on Amazon very much echo what Hannah infers in the article 😅

    Fascinating, informative & passionate -despite being rather over written.
    Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 30 August 2020
    The book is about far more than the title might suggest. The idea and activity of trespass are no more than a frame within which the author explores England’s long history of theft of common land – the rightful property of the 99% – by monarchs, aristocrats and the super rich. It is a process that began with William the Conqueror and continues to the present day. As the author takes us through the history, he also takes us with him as he trespasses on vast country estates to explore and to reveal something of what we the people have lost. The material is well researched and full of insights and telling detail of a kind that certainly raised the temperature of my indignation at how, over the centuries, the elite have stolen land and riverine access from the people of England and of other countries. Passages dealing with wealth & aristocratic titles built on colonialism and slavery are integral to the theme. So far so good. The book has significant faults, however, which is why I have only given it three stars. Perhaps the worst of these is that it is over written – full of purple passages”about landscapes, full moons and camp fires that are both repetitive and much less poetic than perhaps the author believes. They distract from the book’s theme and direction of travel, and quickly become tedious. There are also irritating excursions into languages the author clearly doesn’t speak with the aim of providing etymologies the reader doesn’t need, An example of the latter is that we are told the word “madrugada” is of Portuguese origin. Well that’s partly true, but it is equally a Spanish word and has the same root as the English verb ” to mature” (“madurar” in Spanish, “amadurar” in Portuguese). Similarly there are some ad hoc references intended apparently to display the author’s learning which are irritatingly misconceived: “Hamlet’s teenage nihilism” merely suggests that the author has no idea what that Shakespearean masterpiece is about, and there’s a reference to Rousseau’s “Discours sur l’Origine et les fondements de l’Inégalité parmi les hommes” which shows that he either hasn’t read the text or hasn’t understood it. In summary, the book is strongest when it concentrates on its main subject, weakest when it meanders into literary excursions and ill-advised attempts to display erudtion. Worth adding that towards the end of the book there are passages of questionable coherence that make one think they might have been composed under the influence of weed – a far-from fanciful impression given that the author refers to preparing and smoking “joints” round the camp fire. I think the book would have benefitted from the work of an editor with a vigorous red pencil. Finally, a word about what I feel is missing – which is a discussion of the tendency of the English (in particular) to fly-tip, and to leave rubbish strewn over those parts of the countryside to which they have access. Any argument in favour of strong “right ot roam” legislation on the Scottish model, for example, will doubtless encounter the objection that the English are too filthy to deserve such a right and that the 1% are the guardians of a countryside that would otherwise be despoiled by feckless barbarians.

    Premier Icon neilthewheel
    Full Member

    ^ That review is spot on. I noticed in the Trespasser’s Handbook that he plays down the litter issue and says it’s a consequence of there not being enough bins.

    Premier Icon joshvegas
    Free Member

    but there’s no evidence to suggest we are any worse than other users of the countryside

    I mean there is in certain conditions… but I know what you mean.

    As for walking and canoeing being “leave no trace” it rather depends how good you are with the old biosecurity. Which is everybodies responsibility but watercourse in particular are phenominal spreaders of nasties and non native invasive species.

    Free responsible access for all! And tell the miserable sods to **** off! works for me

    Premier Icon robertajobb
    Full Member

    Yes..horse riders do seem to be a particularly patronising group of ****.

    Premier Icon joshvegas
    Free Member

    Yes..horse riders do seem to be a particularly patronising group of ****.

    and all bike riders jump red lights.

    I’ve had some pretty patronising cyclists while walking along the tweed bike path where do they sit on the scale?

    Premier Icon martymac
    Full Member

    Yeah, every group will have a percentage of di**heads.
    I have met a few of them over the decades, they all get the same response, “phone the police”
    Nobody ever has.
    No point discussing anything with a halfwit.
    And, if they start a conversation with “you can’t/shouldn’t” etc, they’re probably a halfwit.
    Telling them to call the police really takes the wind out of their sails, because it’s not the response they expect.

    Premier Icon fasgadh
    Free Member

    I have been bothered once, but have done little paddling outwith Scotland. Was very amusing given that it after a morning stacking hay bales in the field behind the idiot. My dad was the riparian landowner.

    Been challenged on our farm for walking too. There are a lot of busybodies out there only too willing to enforce the crap access laws on behalf of others.

    We would not have challenged in either case had we encountered a walker or paddler in those situations. Sadly the river has been sold on and is in the hands of a neighbour who constantly moaned at us for allowing access.

    Mad country, Glad I got out.

    Premier Icon paton
    Free Member

    Trespass, there are laws against that aren’t there?

    https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Vict/28-29/56

    Can someone recommend a book on smuggling?
    Suggest a book about speeding?

    Is there a shop lifters guide?
    How about a poachers pamphlet?

    Premier Icon Spin
    Free Member

    Trespass, there are laws against that aren’t there?

    That’s the problem.

    Premier Icon Spin
    Free Member

    https://www.nfumutual.co.uk/farming/ruralcrime/

    Hard to see how that relates to access.

    Premier Icon jeffl
    Full Member

    @paton, I’d suggest you read this book and it’s predecessor. Also a few points. 1 not all land is owned by farmers, book one gives a good breakdown. 2 me walking round the edge of a field doesn’t cause any loss of earnings or such that would require an insurance payout.

    We really need to adopt the Scottish access laws here in England.

    Premier Icon argee
    Full Member

    Had my first discussion with someone about rights of way for a long time last week, as is always the case for me, it was a pensioner bemoaning bikes being used on ‘footpaths’, when showing that it wasn’t a footpath it was then because of wild flowers and erosion, as it was a forest track this was a bit of a lost argument, then it was because ‘the Duke wouldn’t like bikers on his land’, even though there are bridleways either side of this short track!

    My biggest gripe with rights of way is the amount of times you follow a bridleway and it suddenly turns into a footpath or ‘disappears’ for a couple of hundred metres or so, so you can’t get to the next one, there’s a lot of badly thought out routes unfortunately.

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