Author Topic: Footpaths ploughed and sown  (Read 1311 times)

cpjmathieson

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 458
Footpaths ploughed and sown
« on: 10:11:59, 05/05/20 »
Hi,
I had a recent discussion and I wondered what everyone's thoughts are. Just recently on my walks I come across footpaths that go straight across a field are being ploughed and sown. Now do you follow the footpath straight across or follow the fields edge to avoid walking through the field? I nearly always follow where the path should be, as the farmer should maintain the path and following the field edge adds distance to the walk.


Whats your thoughts?

cpjmathieson

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 458
Re: Footpaths ploughed and sown
« Reply #1 on: 10:23:15, 05/05/20 »
The majority of farms have some form of public right of way across them, whether it is a footpath, bridleway or byway. But when walkers are heading for your crops, what are your rights and responsibilities?

We look into the rules of farming near footpaths for landowners and arable farmers.

Who looks after public rights of way?


In England and Wales, responsibility for maintaining footpaths, bridleways and byways are divided between the landowner and the highways authority. Parish and town councils also have certain discretionary powers.
The situation is different in Scotland, as there is no definitive list of rights of way (although a list of “core paths” does exist) and access rights are different under the Land Reform Act. Nobody has a duty to maintain a right of way, although local authorities have powers to do so.
In Scotland you must respect access rights by not hindering or deterring people, act reasonably when asking people to avoid the area when land management operations are taking place, and work with local authorities to integrate access and land management.


What do farmers/landowners have to do?


Farmers or landowners are required to keep rights of way open and useable; this includes providing and maintaining stiles and gates and making sure they are safe and easy to use.
  • Cut vegetation that could obstruct the route (at least 3m is required for bridleways and 1.5m for footpaths unless they are crossing a field – see below).
  • Paths that run on the field edge must not be cultivated and cross-field paths must be reinstated correctly after field operations.
  • Landowners must meet all their legal obligations regarding maintenance of public rights of way to claim Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments under cross-compliance.
  • In Scotland, landowners aren’t required to maintain a right of way, but they must not obstruct it and have a duty of care to people on their land.
  • The “right to responsible access” means people aren’t necessarily restricted to paths and can walk across uncropped fields where no path exists. However, such access rights are suspended as soon as a crop is sown until after harvest and walkers must keep to the field edge during this time.
  • Who keeps the path surface clear?
  • It is down to the landowner to keep cross-field paths clear from crops other than hay or silage.

    In England and Wales, the highways authority is responsible for maintaining the surface of public rights of way and controlling surface vegetation (other than crops).
    It is also responsible for steps, handrails, some barriers, drains, most bridges and culverts, stepping stones, fords, signposts and waymarks.
    No one body or organisation is responsible for path surfaces in Scotland, although users have a common law right to keep routes clear of vegetation.
    Farmers should use common sense to ensure core cross-field paths are walkable.
  • Can I plough or cultivate a cross-field path?
  • Yes, you can disturb a path surface when ploughing or cultivating the field, but if you do, you must reinstate a good path surface within 14 days of the first disturbance if a crop is being sown, or within 24 hours in other cases.
    The surface must be returned to at least the minimum width, which is 1n for cross-field footpaths and 2m for bridleways. Signs should be used to show the route of any reinstated path. If the path runs along the field boundary, it is illegal to plough it up or cultivate it.


  • pauldawes

    • Veteran Member
    • *****
    • Posts: 1342
    Re: Footpaths ploughed and sown
    « Reply #2 on: 10:34:02, 05/05/20 »
    I always give the farmer a few days to re-state the path...just on pragmatic basis that until that’s done, it’s often difficult to be completely sure you’re taking exactly the right line, and might cause some crop damage off the right line.


    If a fair amount of time has passed, and it becomes obvious that farmer has no intention of restating line of the path...then I walk the line of the path.

    Jac

    • Veteran Member
    • *****
    • Posts: 2341
    Re: Footpaths ploughed and sown
    « Reply #3 on: 10:56:58, 05/05/20 »
    If a PRoW across a field has not been reinstated where a crop is growing I look at the field edges and the size of the field. If the field is not huge (like some on downland areas) and edges are walkable then I go round the crop. If the field is huge, meaning a long detour, or the crop is hard up to the edges then I go across on the line of the path.

    As a child I was taught never to walk on growing crops. It still makes me feel very uncomfortable to do so even though I know I would technically be in the right and the farmer is technically in the wrong for not reinstating the path.
    So many paths, so little time

    rural roamer

    • Veteran Member
    • *****
    • Posts: 1054
    Re: Footpaths ploughed and sown
    « Reply #4 on: 12:03:15, 05/05/20 »
    We do exactly the same as Jac said  O0

    sussamb

    • Veteran Member
    • *****
    • Posts: 7393
    Re: Footpaths ploughed and sown
    « Reply #5 on: 12:30:40, 05/05/20 »
    Me too  O0
    Where there's a will ...

    ninthace

    • Veteran Member
    • *****
    • Posts: 6522
    Re: Footpaths ploughed and sown
    « Reply #6 on: 12:37:17, 05/05/20 »
    Similar, but I can be a bit more bloody minded about sticking to the path if the approach is well walked indicating the path is in frequent use.
    Solvitur Ambulando

    WhitstableDave

    • Veteran Member
    • *****
    • Posts: 671
    Re: Footpaths ploughed and sown
    « Reply #7 on: 12:52:11, 05/05/20 »
    Me too.  O0

    When I see no realistic alternative to walking through (and treading down) a crop that's grown sufficiently for me to know that the path ought to have been reinstated some time ago, I do it with great reluctance while telling myself that it's not my fault that the farmer couldn't be bothered. I also find it helps tremendously to have my Satmap zoomed right in so I know I'm exactly where the path should be!

    GinAndPlatonic

    • Veteran Member
    • *****
    • Posts: 817
    Re: Footpaths ploughed and sown
    « Reply #8 on: 13:04:28, 05/05/20 »
    I usually walk across, when I am sure of the pathway, but feel some of what Jac does. A tad guilty.

    The thing that makes me a little more determined to walk across is that future walkers, in a day or weeks or months also will need reasonable access across the crops and those fields.

    In the past, If I have been uncertain I was on the right path, anywhere, I found it reassuring to see some boot prints on the ground. It is the same for an obvious pathway through knee high crops.. :)

    Mel

    • Veteran Member
    • *****
    • Posts: 9521
    Re: Footpaths ploughed and sown
    « Reply #9 on: 14:18:19, 05/05/20 »
    Same as Jac.


    Plus, sometimes looking a the map, the green RoW isn't underpinned with a grey dashed "path" so simply means that you have a right to travel from A to B - it doesn't necessarily mean you have to do that in a straight line across a field of crops  :)


    I'm fairly sure that if it didn't cost money and a load of political red tape to re-route a PRoW most farmers would have diverted old routes from previous field layouts to reflect the current "lay of the land".  I think of field edges as "permissive paths" to avoid trampling somebody's income.


    Oity-toity landowners, now they're a different story...


    ... then I do follow the RoW religiously on badness...



    “I'm tired of people bein' ugly to each other. It feels like pieces of glass in my head.” - John Coffey, The Green Mile

    barewirewalker

    • Veteran Member
    • *****
    • Posts: 3246
    Re: Footpaths ploughed and sown
    « Reply #10 on: 15:06:00, 05/05/20 »
    If a footpath is not re-instated in the prescribe time it is still the only legal way to to walk. The legal amount of variation, is I believe, 2m variation either side of the RoW to avoid an obstruction.

    Field margins are often thought of as a reasonable alternative and being fair to the grower. But by following the the line of the right of way, the walker is doing the job of 'making good' which the grower should have done. It is the responsibility of the owner of the field to make sure that rights of way are observed, and the contractual obligations of loss of crop will be between the person responsible for the crop and the owner of the land.


    If the quality of way by crossing a field is superior, then that should be the walkers judgment and not a concern for the welfare of the grower. Any field margins left untilled are probably in receipt of grant aid, so why should we feel guilty about using them as an alternative if the quality of way is better by this alternative, we are putting cash in the landowners pocket through our taxes.

    Many tenants had clauses in the tenancy agreements not to allow the creation of rights of way, historically we probably have less routes that we should have above and beyond the Corruption of the Definitive Map.  8)
    BWW
    Their Land is in Our Country.

    pleb

    • Veteran Member
    • *****
    • Posts: 3238
    Re: Footpaths ploughed and sown
    « Reply #11 on: 15:35:27, 05/05/20 »
    Think when the PROWS were drawn up they were often done remotely, eg. to link point A and point B on map we draw a straight line. Think thats why theres so few going round field edges. Generally I try and avoid trampling crops, where possible.

    watershed

    • Full Member
    • ***
    • Posts: 117
    Re: Footpaths ploughed and sown
    « Reply #12 on: 15:56:04, 05/05/20 »
    Reading this thread reminds me how lucky I am living in Scotland.
    In Shetland we do not have intensive farming, just some scattered crofts, so it is never really an issue.
    I would always walk around any crops, but they wouldn't cause me a big detour.
    I planned a route through Orkney that I realised I couldn't do until winter time as they have better agricultural ground and plant far more. Thankfully Richardh1905 helped me out by designing an excellent alternative route.
    It is said that Orkney people are farmers who occasionally fish, whereas Shetlanders are fishermen who occasionally farm.
    « Last Edit: 15:59:09, 05/05/20 by watershed »

    BuzyG

    • Veteran Member
    • *****
    • Posts: 1704
    Re: Footpaths ploughed and sown
    « Reply #13 on: 16:09:44, 05/05/20 »
    Plenty of this happening at the moment.  During recent walks I have walked across the field, where I know the footpath was there last time I walked it. 


    If I' am not familiar with the path, then I walk around the field boundary by the shortest route.  I have also done that a few times  in the past weeks.

    barewirewalker

    • Veteran Member
    • *****
    • Posts: 3246
    Re: Footpaths ploughed and sown
    « Reply #14 on: 17:56:24, 05/05/20 »
    Think when the PROWS were drawn up they were often done remotely, eg. to link point A and point B on map we draw a straight line. Think thats why theres so few going round field edges. Generally I try and avoid trampling crops, where possible.
    I think that is a a line of thought that is promoted by those with an interest to excuse the corruption of the definitive map. Victorian engineering was done at a time when pride in skill was paramount. The OS map was based on the need to drop ordnance accurately on an invading army and long after it was a closely guarded military secret the disciplines carried well on into the 20th century.


    Most PRoW's were just transferred from the OS maps, probably the 1 in 25 scale maps, that farmers and land agents would have as part of their deeds or tenancy agreements. I heard a PRoW officer explain that it was such inaccuracy that put a RoW on the wrong side of a hedge to a lane yet, on the ground it is plain to see that the lane is well below the level of the water table in wet weather. The original way was, to my mind, accurately plotted to indicate that people needed to walk in the field to circumnavigate flooding. This is backed up by the position of field gates etc.

    Not enough critical thought has gone into interpreting the ways of old and how they can play a part in today's access.


    Also many footpaths follow hedge lines that no longer exist, should you be expected to walk a 50 - 70 acre field margin because a landowner in the 1950-60's grubbed up the hedges after the DM was created. I have seen many places where the course across a large field gives far higher quality of way than the field margins, should quantifying and recognising quality of way play a part in access.
    BWW
    Their Land is in Our Country.