Letter: Nowhere to roam

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The Independent Culture
Sir: Most of us live miles away from the areas of heath, moor or downland which are the subject of the Government's "right to roam" proposals. Yet more and more of us want to go for a country walk.

In lowland areas of intensive farming, rights of way often run right across what is now featureless arable land, stripped of hedges and trees and unsuitable for any sort of recreational use. These rights of way are a nuisance to the farmer and not much fun for the walker - particularly where farmers repeatedly remove waymarks and refuse to mark the path after ploughing and sowing.

These archaic footpaths should be rerouted to reflect contemporary needs. Given the popularity of walking, new footpaths should be created too. Of course the machinery exists, at local level through the parish council, but the problem seems to be just that: at local level in rural England power still usually remains vested in the landowners.

Lowland farmers might be keen to divert walkers away from the middle of arable land, but they certainly don't want to divert them on to their own amenity land - shooting terrain: pheasants and partridge or wildfowling land along the edge of rivers. The high cost of a gun is quite a spur when it comes to lobbying to keep the walker out of woods and pleasant meadow grassland; there is an even greater cost if they happen to shoot a rambler instead of a pheasant.

These matters need addressing. Lowland walkers are still stuck.