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Thread: Rights of Access for Open Canoeing

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    Default Rights of Access for Open Canoeing

    Rights of Access for Open Canoeing


    Many who are new to canoeing are confused about where they are able to use their canoe legally. This is not always straightforward to sort out and is an area that is currently being hotly debated.

    First let us talk about an area that has exceptionally good rights of access.

    Scotland

    Scotland has traditionally had good rights of access for paddlers and the passing of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code has served to underscore this. In essence, using an open canoe, without an engine, you are allowed to use any watercourses in the country with a few sensible exceptions. The exceptions are generally reservoirs to supply drinking water. The code also gives the right of reasonable access across the land to get to the water.

    So you can see that the situation in Scotland is good for the canoeist, however, with these rights comes a lot of responsibility. We must ensure that we use these rights in a respectful way so as to keep landowners on side and ensure that there is no pressure to curtail the access that we now enjoy.

    For more information on the Scottish Outdoor Access Code visit www.outdooraccess-scotland.com . Also you can download a leaflet from the Canoe Scotland web site, specifically addressing the access rights and responsibilities of canoeists by clicking HERE.

    England & Wales

    England and Wales have a much worse access laws for canoeists. Essentially you need the permission of the person who owns the river to use it. The owner of the river is usually the landowner of the adjoining land. There are rivers that have a public right of way / navigation but these total about 2% of the rivers that a canoe could be used on.

    To take your open canoe on canals you need a licence. The best way to obtain one is to join the British Canoe Union, as this licence and others for some rivers is included in the membership. Also they have local access officers that can advise you of the best places for you locally.

    Law permits access to tidal waters. So if you are near the coast these are options, however, great care should always be taken as the hazards of paddling the sea can be considerable for the beginner. I would strongly advise taking you first trip with someone experienced in these conditions.

    The introduction of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code has increased the demand for similar rules to be adopted in England and Wales. The BCU has created a web site to focus these calls and gather together all interested parties to try and increase their voice with the government. The web site is http://www.riversaccess.org. I doubt there will be many canoeists who do not support this project and hope for positive results.

    Disclaimer

    The above information is intended as a helpful guide but I do not guarantee it is the definitive position. So as with everything in life it is your responsibility to ensure that you are paddling within the law.
    Last edited by MagiKelly; 14th-December-2005 at 09:29 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MagiKelly
    Rights of Access for Open Canoeing



    Scotland has traditionally had good rights of access for paddlers and the passing of the Scottish Outdoor Access Code has served to underscore this. In essence, using an open canoe, without an engine, you are allowed to use any watercourses in the country with a few sensible exceptions. The exceptions are generally reservoirs to supply drinking water. The code also gives the right of reasonable access across the land to get to the water.
    In the consultation document reservoirs were mentioned in the context that the access laws DID apply to them. Many reservoirs have boat fishing on them anyway.
    I often paddle my local reservoir. Loch Katrine seems to be an exception, unless you are a paddle steamer!
    Last edited by MagiKelly; 15th-December-2005 at 10:14 PM. Reason: Edited to fix quote tags

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    As I understand it reservoirs will become covered by the access code as the treatment plants associated with them are upgraded to deal with any resulting pollution.

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    Many thanks John - clarfication is much appreciated.
    www.nordmarkencanoeuk.co.uk Scandinavian specialist in canoe, hunting, fishing and bushcraft

    http://survivall.blogspot.com/

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    Quote Originally Posted by MagiKelly
    As I understand it reservoirs will become covered by the access code as the treatment plants associated with them are upgraded to deal with any resulting pollution.
    I heard this in relation to Loch Katrine only.
    If it wasn't for the rain in our lives there would be no rivers. X 2

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    Quote Originally Posted by tenboats1
    I heard this in relation to Loch Katrine only.
    So did I but I assumed this was the reason for the others being omitted. Probably a leap of logic to far.

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    There is also a curious situation on Loch Leven. The SNH seem to restrict canoeists to a small area but the engine driven fishing boats are allowed over the whole loch. I don't know if this is still the current situation.

    I'm an angler and naturalist myself, but I am not impressed with the reasoning behind this decision

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doc
    There is also a curious situation on Loch Leven. The SNH seem to restrict canoeists to a small area but the engine driven fishing boats are allowed over the whole loch. I don't know if this is still the current situation.

    I'm an angler and naturalist myself, but I am not impressed with the reasoning behind this decision
    I was in one of the first paddling parties to go on the Loch (sea kayaks, part of a group under instruction). We launched form the prescribed point, but soon (deliberately) entered the no go zone. And then landed on the far side of the Loch for lunch.

    We were accosted (nicely) by SNH staff in a powered boat. On our approach to the far shore we had maybe caused soem tufted duck to lift off, but we were so far away I'm not convinced they were reacting to us. Some geese (greylag) had moved slowly some 200m to one side and a group of 200 mute swans had drifted and swam about a quarter of a km to one side, but slowly and with no real concern.

    After giving us an ear wigging the partrol baot sped off on full throttle around the loch, exclusively within the no go area, and the group of 200 swans moved very briskly a good km, and scatterd into several groups.

    On our return trip we had to pass between 2 islands (not allowed) because the wind had risen and our group (youngsters) had become spread out. We needed shelter to re group.

    Spying our 'illegal' moves from the other side of the loch the patrol boat came across at high spped. The mallard we had disturbed, which move about 50m and then settled, scarpered round the island to escape the power boat.

    We had gone no where that the fishing boats routinely go, and our group of 8 were very quiet. Although youngsters on a Natural Connections course there was no shouting or playing games etc. They behaved perfectly.

    The current situation is completely illogical, and the restrictions are unsafe. SNH clearly have a not too well hidden adgenda.

    I come from a very strong birdwatching background. It has been a major part of my upbringing and I believe that in the case of Loch Leven the wildlife should take priority. All I ask as a paddler is parity with powered fishing boats in terms of areas I am allowed to paddle in.
    If it wasn't for the rain in our lives there would be no rivers. X 2

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    Default Rights of Access

    Hi,

    Down here in the Peak District we are allowed on a reservoir called Carsington Water a totally unatural reservoir. If you pay to launch you are allowed in an area 2-3 football pitches in size. If you hire a fishing boat rowed or electric motor you are asllowed all over, except a couple of small bays. We tried to negotiate for instructed groups to paddle further afield but with no success, until D-Day (D=domination). It just happened that there were a number of local centres there at the same time and one was being AALA inspected, the inspector is a well known paddler of old, Level 5 coach. Most of us were acosted by the safety boat driver having escaped the area a few times, the most annoyed being the inspector. So at lunch time after a few words we went in search of the Big Boss. We being 2xL5, 1xL5 aspirant, 1xL4 and 3xL3 coaches. Having had a one way discussion with said boss, and some explanation about what people with the qualifications can do and where they can go. We now can go where ever we want, SUCESS, but it needed the (dominant) group aproach to work. There had been numerous discussions prior to this over a number of years with no improvement. An excellent venue with lots of space, wind and bird life, but we do have to pay and they will not let individuals stray, even us when we do not have a group.

    PB.

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    The English access situation sounds truly dreadful. I can honestly say that if I still lived in England I probably would not have bought a canoe.

    Even walking and camping are badly restricted.


    I wonder if SNH are really entitled to restrict canoe access so severely on Loch Leven. The act gives people the right of responsible access. The SNH may find it hard to show that a canoeist is being irresponsible by simply going to a part of the loch that is already used by powered fishing boats and a ferry. As a doctor I am trained in critical reading of research evidence and the explanations for the policy do not make sense.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doc
    The English access situation sounds truly dreadful. I can honestly say that if I still lived in England I probably would not have bought a canoe.

    Even walking and camping are badly restricted.


    I wonder if SNH are really entitled to restrict canoe access so severely on Loch Leven. The act gives people the right of responsible access. The SNH may find it hard to show that a canoeist is being irresponsible by simply going to a part of the loch that is already used by powered fishing boats and a ferry. As a doctor I am trained in critical reading of research evidence and the explanations for the policy do not make sense.
    SNH say that if they can show that opening things up to the general public adversley affects wildlife they are able, within the terms of the Act, to ban access. The esablished disturbance from fishing boats will continue, it is just the additional disturbance that they are concerned with.

    I guess that is why our group were credited with disturbing the tufted ducks so readily. I bet we were blamed for the swans too.

    I support SNH protecting the wildlife. The best way they can do this is to either sack the driver of their power boat or paddle a canoe when undertaking their survey work.

    There is no justification for banning paddlers in the area that the ferry uses. (Not on safety grounds either, unless the driver of the ferry is related to the survey boat driver.!)

    The answer may be to book a fishing boat, tie it up somewhere and switch to a canoe, paddle about where you please before returning the fishing boat. That way there is no attitional disturbance. In fact there is less if you don't stand up in the boat waving your arms about (fly fishing).

    Anyone fancy a night paddle?
    If it wasn't for the rain in our lives there would be no rivers. X 2

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    I had it in mind that the access hassle was in England only. I can say I'm pleased to see that you are having trouble up at your end of the country, but at least it looks more consistent now.

    This is why I use the sea a lot, other than dodging people who have no idea what they are doing (and there's lots of them), and keeping a close eye on the weather/tide.currents/wind, it's an easy paddle. Err, ok, at least the access is easy (as long as you can park somewhere). SWLakesTrust only have paddling on a couple of the lakes in the SW, which is a pity as there are some very nice, seculded bits of water hereabouts that would suit a quiet bit of exploration.

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    I've just read the guidance on the Scottish Land Reform Act. It's so sensible and balanced. See http://www.snh.org.uk/strategy/access/sr-soac.asp

    It is pretty clear about what can be accessed or not. OK there will always be grey areas but at least there are sensible restrictions defined.

    We need an English / Welsh version. Send it to all your (English) MP's! Get all your Scottish and Ulster MP's to support the same rights in England. Petition your MEP's!

    Sigh, back to reality.

    Us peasants should not presume to tresspass on the land (or water) of the gentry Although there are some interesting bits of English legislation on the books that still possibly give us rights on some rivers (but clash with other laws, anyone know a good solicitor? ). A number of navigation acts were never repealed - might be worth some research.

    "Wot, me gov? trespassin? Nah, I'm only taking this air dahn river to sell cos there aint no coals or wool tah trade any more and times is 'ard" Doffs his flat cap and paddles away furiously before the toff can get a bead on him with his twelvebore.

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    I do not think that your access issues are going to change any time soon unless you can get your local MP's to go out canoeing and then to become canoeists themselves; otherwise they will always side with the folks with the money that help to keep them elected, and that means the crabby land owners. From a Canadian stand point the laws looks positively dark age. Perhaps if enough of you all got together all at once and organized a Gandhi like protest and ignored the law completely in a "march to the water" enough light would be shed on this to show the public how foolish the laws really are. They cannot arrest you all. I suspect the average non-canoeist in the UK is unaware of the access problem. Somebody should extend an invite to Tony Blair to go canoeing; he's not likely to go, but it is a good public gesture.
    Here in Canada we elected a canoeist PM back in the late 60's to the early 80's. Pierre Trudeau set aside more land for national parks than anyone before or since and created the Canadian Heritage Rivers as well as the Canadian wild rivers survey. His famous quote is almost legendary now.
    • What sets a canoeing expedition apart is that it purifies you more rapidly and inescapably than any other travel. Travel a thousand miles by train and you are a brute; pedal five hundred on a bicycle and you remain basically a bourgeois; paddle a hundred in a canoe and you are already a child of nature.
    In the US even Al Gore is a bit of a canoeist and environmental champion. I think that the UK canoeists need to get a champion. Royal family maybe, or a few good MP's would do. Barring that you could you could see what Oliver Cromwell is up to these days.
    Lloyd

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brevan
    We need an English / Welsh version.
    Sadly for those sahrf of the border, access to inland water in England & Wales was not included in the The Countryside and Rights of Way Act so it is now an uphill struggle against vested interests to open up access.

    Have a look at:

    http://www.riversaccess.org/

    where there will be more information on how to support the campaign for fair access to inland water in England & Wales.
    Veni Vidi Natavi

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    hi john, does any of these acceptions apply to lake of monteith because i had a look at the lake a c few days ago on the way to the lubnaig i enquired at the fishery and was told point blank NO! under no circumstances i pressed him on this and said there was very few places that you were unable to canoe and he said they were different but could not tell me how .does anyone know the propper access on this lake please.

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    Access is the single most important issue facing paddlesports in England and Wales, and has been for a long time. Succesive BCU schemes have failed to improve the situation and there is no indication that their present tack is going to be any more successful!

    The law protects the rights of landowners! Most of our laws (many of them archaic) were written by land owners to protect them from the common people using pastureland to feed their animals, grow vegetables and hunt. Common land was provided for this purpose in most villages and towns.

    Society has changed rapidly in recent years, however our laws have not kept pace! During the consultation for the CRoW act the rights of walkers, fishermen, campers etc were well represented by their relative governing bodies, however, canoe sport was under represented by the BCU which meant that access to rivers was not covered in the terms of the act!

    We need to be represented by politically aware, proactive, motivated people who understand the system used in England & Wales. The BCU does a great job of protecting competitive paddlers and as a sports governing body they are successful, however the vast majority of paddlers are recreational paddlers. We do not compete and many of us do not subscribe to the BCU.

    Unlike walkers who have the ramblers association we do not have a militant, politically motivated organisation who want to protect the rights of all paddlers regardless of whether they are members or not! We need this more than ever now or our rights will be ignored. Almost every other country in Europe protects the rights of the people to use the countryside for leisure. Sweden and Finland are probably the most progressive but France have no access issues, nor do Italy and Spain!

    There are no reliable figures that count the number of paddlers in England & Wales which is a big problem! Until we know the full number of paddlers we can't lobby government because they will only react to a significant number of potential voters.

    Protest will only work if it is mass protest and attracts media attention!

    Personally I would support mass protest and join any organisation that set out to militantly support the rights of the people to have access to rivers for leisure.

    Sorry for the rant!!!!!!!!!

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    Couldn't agree with Ed more.

    I live in NE England and tend to head north when I want to go paddling, espescially at this time of year as the access agreements are tied to the fishing season. Not that there's any water atm.

    Wasn't there a group called CRACK or something like that, who used to organise mass trespasses in kayaks? (I may be showing my age here, must have been back in the eighties)

    At the risk of sounding even more looney than I am, the present methods of the BCU don't work and if we want it to get better it's time to trespass. Lets face it, unless you meet a complete nutcase with a gun (or large rocks to throw) the worst that can happen is the police arresting you, which will do what the BCU have failed to do, get this issue into the public eye.

    Open boats are probably the best craft for this sort of thing too, helmeted, brightly coloured yakers have a slightly nutty look about them (an image many work hard to achieve), but a bunch of chilled out softly spoken open boaters are far more likely to be perceived as nice people out to quietly enjoy themselves and do as little harm to the enviroment as possible. (not that kayakers aren't nice people, it's just a public perception thing)

    Be really nice about it, call the police anonimously and let them know there will be a peaceful protest, call the papers and TV. The only problem is picking a rediculously restricted river with good access for cameras, someone must know of one.

    I'm in my third decade of paddling and it's been the main issue for paddlers since I started, and I'm sure it was before that. It has to be time we tried something different.

    Up the revolution!

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    Quote Originally Posted by gill
    hi john, does any of these acceptions apply to lake of monteith because i had a look at the lake a c few days ago on the way to the lubnaig i enquired at the fishery and was told point blank NO! under no circumstances i pressed him on this and said there was very few places that you were unable to canoe and he said they were different but could not tell me how .does anyone know the propper access on this lake please.
    No idea on the situation with Lake of Montieth. I have looked at it on the map an have thought about paddling it. The only reason I can think that it would be excepted was if it is a nature reserve and it is to protect from disturbing wildlife but since they have boating and fishing on it that is unlikely to be valid reason. It might be worth asking the Scottish Canoe Association's local access officer.

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    The access situation in England and Wales sucks. It annoys me tremendously and I do not even live there. If I did I think I would be more than tempted to paddle any rivers and water I thought should be open. I would of course do so responsibly and with due care for the environment.

    Of course SotP as a web site does not condone breaking the law, bla bla etc etc but it seems from my research that this area of the law is distinctly muddy already.

    I understand it is not a criminal offence anyway, so the Police will not arrest you. It is classes as a civil offence so it is up to the landowner to sue you. If I am wrong I would be grateful for clarification.

    And lastly. Has anyone actually ever been prosecuted for accessing a river or waterway that is not part of an access agreement or are paddlers just staying off the water in case they are the first.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MagiKelly
    The access situation in England and Wales sucks. It annoys me tremendously and I do not even live there. If I did I think I would be more than tempted to paddle any rivers and water I thought should be open. I would of course do so responsibly and with due care for the environment.

    Of course SotP as a web site does not condone breaking the law, bla bla etc etc but it seems from my research that this area of the law is distinctly muddy already.

    I understand it is not a criminal offence anyway, so the Police will not arrest you. It is classes as a civil offence so it is up to the landowner to sue you. If I am wrong I would be grateful for clarification.

    And lastly. Has anyone actually ever been prosecuted for accessing a river or waterway that is not part of an access agreement or are paddlers just staying off the water in case they are the first.
    Well there you go then; if you are not actually breaking a criminal law the only thing you have to fear are lawyers and private security, and they will only come after you as long as they are being paid to do so.

    I would not encourage breaking the law but if this is a civil matter the police shouldn’t touch you. As blue collar working men and women they will probably be supportive; as much as possible anyhow.

    If you do organize a mass protest; as you would expect your frontline canoe revolutionaries may meet with some nasty people, encounter wire fences, or suffer attacks from the land owners goons, but this type of tactic can only serve to help you in the eyes of the public if shown to them. If you are only organized loosely with no clear leader, then the lawyers will have no individual or group to go after.
    When encountering those nasty people be sure to stick to a group of five or more and take lots of photos, and document everything together in an incident report. Keep your stories straight and take the moral high road. If you do get some photos or video of canoe traps and attackers, be sure to post and send it everywhere you can; (UK press, Canadian, American and European canoe forums) you need to generate some massive awareness.

    This is a sweet rig for making canoe movies and would also be useful to record the actions of nasty people harassing canoeists.
    http://www.tigerdirect.ca/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=1592260&CatId=0

    I would not go so far as to say that you should go put yourselves in harms way just to go canoeing on the weekend, but in the big picture some things are worth fighting for; freedom comes to mind, and that is what this is really all about. So it comes down to a personal choice; how much are you willing to risk to make things right? If you chose to fight the good fight your grandchildren will thank you, but it may not be easy. Gandhi managed to beat the British government by taking the moral high road; with a high profile supporter and a defiant (but polite) canoeing public you can too.
    Lloyd

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    Quote Originally Posted by MagiKelly
    I understand it is not a criminal offence anyway, so the Police will not arrest you. It is classes as a civil offence so it is up to the landowner to sue you. If I am wrong I would be grateful for clarification.
    From what I understand to make a financial claim against you they'd also need to prove damages etc as a result of your trespass, so providing you pass without leaving a trace as I'm sure most of on here do, and are courteous to fisherfolk (even if don't agree with 'em a friendly nod doesn't cost anything) I see little they can do.

    Personally my biggest concern is damage to shuttle vehicles, thankfully not experienced any problem yet, but I'm very conscious that this is probably the main way anyone opposing access can deterr people.

    So again I try where possible not to block any gateways etc. when parking, sometimes even asking a local householder if possible to leave car on their property. For the cost of a chup bottle of wine its sometimes worth it for peace of mind!

    Rols.
    edit to fix quote marks


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    I know there are quite a lot of rivers you cant paddle in the uk , but the access issues dont ring right with what the balifs told us when fishing as a kid . We were allways told that the land owner only owned up to the high water mark , everything bellow belongs to the water authorities .
    I find it all a tad confusing . Would be great to be able to paddle anywhere .
    Pumbaa

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    Quote Originally Posted by WhyAyeMan
    If you do organize a mass protest; as you would expect your frontline canoe revolutionaries may meet with some nasty people, encounter wire fences, or suffer attacks from the land owners goons...
    There was an organisation called CRACK which was a bit more millitant and organised a mass trespass on the Seiont in Wales in 1988. I think the current campaigners are staying away from such confrontational tactics, but it's been almost 20 years since this event and not much has changed.

    http://www.simondawson.com/phseiont.htm
    Veni Vidi Natavi

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    How you sasannachs put up with the situation down there is beyond me, theres a long tradition of civil disobediance achieving good I'd go for that if i were you (in a non-violent way off course) either that or sell the canoe really - I mean can licensed canal trips really be any fun?

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    Quote Originally Posted by urchaidh
    There was an organisation called CRACK which was a bit more millitant and organised a mass trespass on the Seiont in Wales in 1988. I think the current campaigners are staying away from such confrontational tactics, but it's been almost 20 years since this event and not much has changed.

    http://www.simondawson.com/phseiont.htm
    That is fantastic! No one was harmed and the police didn't arrest anyone. If this type of thing happened every weekend after a while the fishermen would just give up as they could not defend every bridge every time. I bet you could even have them charged for littering or willful endangerment for their barbed wire fences. After a generation or so seeing a fisherman or two would be a good thing as it would be someone to chat with on a trip.
    Lloyd

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pumbaa
    I know there are quite a lot of rivers you cant paddle in the uk , but the access issues dont ring right with what the balifs told us when fishing as a kid . We were allways told that the land owner only owned up to the high water mark , everything bellow belongs to the water authorities .
    I find it all a tad confusing . Would be great to be able to paddle anywhere .
    Pumbaa
    If this is so you are half way there. In Canada you can only own to the high-water mark after that it is crown land so it belongs to the queen, and in Canada she doesn't use it so everyone else does. I think in the UK too many folks think that they are the queen and do not want to share. Since Canadian law is founded in British law it is probably similar; I would just put in and take out at public bridges and canoe where ever when ever I wanted. I am willing to bet the law is actually on your side in most cases but the powers that be do not want you to know that or are unwilling to clarify that point. Barbed wire obstacles would be illegal hazards to safety in Canada and I bet they are in the UK as well. The sad thing is it will probably only be brought to the courts when someone is tangled in one and drowns and the land owner or fishermen are charged with negligence causing death or something like that. You all probably have the same rights as everyone else legally but have been bullied and lied to as a nation so whole generations have been frightened away from accessing what is their birthright. Of course this is just an opinion; I am not a high paid London attorney.
    Lloyd

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    Quote Originally Posted by urchaidh
    Looks like a reasonable an well behaved protest. If the police were not arresting people on this occasion it strikes me that it is indeed a civil matter.

    It strikes me that the access issue will only be certain once it has been decided in a court case. Those wishing to restrict access rights may be reluctant to pursue such a case as a loss for them would open up all access. Personally from what I have read I would be tempted to work on the premise that I am allowed to paddle the rivers as long as I do not trespass on private land to get in or out. Unless someone can point me to a clear law that states otherwise or a court action which created the legal precedent.

    I think my main concern would be the damaging of my car or the dangers from obstacles put in my way. However, I am certain these acts would be criminal and I would expect the police to pursue the perpetrators. If I cannot set mantraps" in my own house to harm a criminal who has broken in then I doubt that barbed wire can be slung across a river to harm a canoeist.

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    Quote Originally Posted by urchaidh
    There was an organisation called CRACK which was a bit more millitant and organised a mass trespass on the Seiont in Wales in 1988. I think the current campaigners are staying away from such confrontational tactics, but it's been almost 20 years since this event and not much has changed.

    http://www.simondawson.com/phseiont.htm
    Thank you, was starting to think I'd imagined it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MagiKelly
    If the police were not arresting people on this occasion it strikes me that it is indeed a civil matter.
    Sadly not, I suspect that the Seoint protest was before the a Criminal Justice Act (1994 I think was the killer in this case) clamped down on this sort of rampant insurrection by the proles.

    As I understand it...

    Trespass is still a civil matter, however if you refuse to leave quickly when asked, resort to any sort of abuse, cause any damage or in any way 'annoy' the landowner then that's Aggravated Trespass which is a criminal rather than civil offence.

    Also, if you organise an event which involves knowing tresspass that that's Conspirarcy to Commit Trespass, another criminal offence.

    Lastly, if you have six or more vehicles in your 'group' then the police can ask you to move on without reason and it is a criminal offence not to comply.

    There was a pretty good PDF kicking around the web attempting to explain this, but I can't find a copy.
    Veni Vidi Natavi

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    Quote Originally Posted by urchaidh
    Sadly not, I suspect that the Seoint protest was before the a Criminal Justice Act (1994 I think was the killer in this case) clamped down on this sort of rampant insurrection by the proles.

    As I understand it...

    Trespass is still a civil matter, however if you refuse to leave quickly when asked, resort to any sort of abuse, cause any damage or in any way 'annoy' the landowner then that's Aggravated Trespass which is a criminal rather than civil offence.

    Also, if you organise an event which involves knowing tresspass that that's Conspirarcy to Commit Trespass, another criminal offence.

    Lastly, if you have six or more vehicles in your 'group' then the police can ask you to move on without reason and it is a criminal offence not to comply.

    There was a pretty good PDF kicking around the web attempting to explain this, but I can't find a copy.
    I find this very sad. I've come back to canoeing after a *long* layoff but back when I was a kid some thirty years ago I joined the BCU at a time when there were rather more bandit runs than today but, as ever, the official policy was to lobby for recognised access. In thirty years we seem to have got absolutely nowhere although canoeists seem in general a bit more law abiding. Back then I went on one or two local rivers that were barely passable and probably had not been navigated before, I was ticked off on more than one occasion but never had to abort a trip or received worse than 'don't come back again' and many of the farmers didn't mind a bit - probably more amused at someone being stupid enough to try to go up their stream by canoe. If you are on a prime bit of river that's attractive to canoeists and which has frequent traffic their attitudes are likely to be more hardened I guess.

    From the above legal info it would seem the long tradition of mass trespass that got us our original access to the hills and mountains has been made more dificult, although it can plainly still be done if folks care enough and are willing to suffer the consequences. I wonder what a lawyer's opinion of 'leaving quickly' would be - going downstream would seem the fastest way off a landlords property to me :-)
    Happy paddling ,
    Rob.


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    Quote Originally Posted by ed bassett
    Personally I would support mass protest and join any organisation that set out to militantly support the rights of the people to have access to rivers for leisure.

    Sorry for the rant!!!!!!!!!
    I'd join you Ed, although I would put some caveats on how militant the group was and wouldn't want to get up to the sort of shenanigans some of the animal rights folks do.
    Last edited by gwing; 26th-July-2006 at 11:35 PM.
    Happy paddling ,
    Rob.


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    Quote Originally Posted by gwing
    I'd join you Ed, although I would put some caveats on how militant the group was and wouldn't want to get up to the sort of shenanigans the animal rights folks do.
    I'm sure that you are referring to Animal rights extremists here, rather than legitimate animal rights campaigners ...

    Not sure how much of this goes on in the UK now, I suspect not much really, but the cycling advocacy critical mass has some parallels here.

    I'd agree that the range of the Criminal Justice Act would mean that the judicial response could end up being rather punative depending upon the perception of the event.

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    Quote Originally Posted by monkey_pork
    I'm sure that you are referring to Animal rights extremists here, rather than legitimate animal rights campaigners ...

    .
    We all may have different ideas on what is extremist and what is legitimate and I'm not sure that the labels help too much. Nevertheless I've edited my post a little as a sort of apology for gratuitously bringing animal rights into the conversation In the context of canoeing I feel that some peacefull high profile paddling on disputed waters is appropriate militancy at the moment and would support that without reservation, but would go no further.
    Happy paddling ,
    Rob.


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    the whole access right in England and Wales sucks - limited river access, NERC Act and green lanes, crag access

    The whole situation needs a good shake up with all rights of way be look at to see what traffic they can take with rivers been taken as rights of way.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MagiKelly
    As I understand it reservoirs will become covered by the access code as the treatment plants associated with them are upgraded to deal with any resulting pollution.
    That would open up a lot of water in my neck of the woods, some lovely paddling could be had.
    Leone_blanco

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    Default English Access rights - Minister for transport

    A couple of days ago I had a reply (via my MP) from the current Minister for Rivers (It was on DEFRA headed notepaper). I'd been asking if I could exericse my lawful rights on a local waterway. The reply was quite interesting.

    The Department recognises that a common law right to navigate exists on some rivers as conferred by ancient laws, (and even some not so ancient ones) although there are conflicts with the (Riparian) rights of local landowners and that these issues would only be finaly resolved by a court.

    I was particularly asking about a local navigation (a canal that has fallen into disuse) - here they said the right did exist and was recognised by the department, however it would be difficult to exercise due to access and the current state of the waterway.

    Then it went on to talk about negotiating volountary access and that demand for the provision of water for paddling was pretty much met by the current provision.

    I think there is hope here. I suspect many of the UK's rivers still have statutory rights of navigation if you look hard enough. The Scottish solution makes the situation clear but does not close the door to preventing paddling where necessary, which is only right.

    Another interesting fact - 31 Million pounds of public money was spent by the environment agency on fisheries in 2004/05. I'm still trying to find out how much they spent on facilities for watersports.

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    Trespass is a civil offence as John said. However there is an offence recently introduced termed as "aggressive trespass" which is a criminal offence. If a landowner claims that he or she felt intimidated or threatened by your prescence it may be possible for the crown prosecution service to convict you under this offence.

    I was unsuccessfully sued for trespass by a welsh landowner several years ago whilst leading a group of kids on the upper Wye. One of them got tangled in some fishing line and suffered a large cut on their arm so I found the nearest safe get out and led the 4 kids up a path to a road where I could radio my minibus driver for help. The landowner came to us and insisted that we could not return to collect our boats and he would sue if we tried.

    I pleaded with him and explained that the children (12 - 14 years old) had left their gear in the boats and we were waiting for help so that we could take one of them to hospital. His response was unprintable!

    I asked him if he would physically prevent us from collecting our boats, at which point he backed off so I gave him my details and returned to the riverbank to carry the boats to the road.

    At the hearing the judge was very much in favour of my decision to leave the river at the earliest possible time and place to safeguard the children and rejected the landowners claim to prevent us collecting our boats as ludicrous! The landowner had to pay my legal costs as well as the court costs!

    Canoeists 1 Landowners 0

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    Quote Originally Posted by LAS247
    That would open up a lot of water in my neck of the woods, some lovely paddling could be had.
    Sorry but this was in relation to Scotland only. I am not sure of the situation in England but from what I have heard I doubt the opening of these waters to canoeists.

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    oh thats ok then, thought I may have had to stop driving miles for somewhere to paddle. I'll just keep on polluting the atmosphere with my car instead of popping down the road to my local reservoir and polluting the atmosphere...endangering wildlife...anglers... annoying sailors...jetskiiers...power boaters...fish...toads...birds...ecologists...etc. etc. (sorry for the rant, but I feel better now)
    Leone_blanco

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    Quote Originally Posted by urchaidh
    Also, if you organise an event which involves knowing tresspass that that's Conspirarcy to Commit Trespass, another criminal offence.
    I'm not sure that conspriacy to commit trespass is actually a criminal offence. Searching for this, the only place I have found this is on the BCU website. Nothing on any government document or legislation.

    No guaratnees mind!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pumbaa
    We were allways told that the land owner only owned up to the high water mark , everything bellow belongs to the water authorities .
    This is a bit of a misunderstanding. Certainly landowners own the land to the high water mark but this only applies in coastal, tidal situations. The beach between low and high tide belongs to the crown (generally).

    In river situations, the owners of the land either side of a river own the river bed up to the middle. They also have certain rights over the water but, clearly, they do not 'own' the water.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brevan
    A couple of days ago I had a reply (via my MP) from the current Minister for Rivers (It was on DEFRA headed notepaper). ..........
    The Department recognises that a common law right to navigate exists on some rivers as conferred by ancient laws, (and even some not so ancient ones) although there are conflicts with the (Riparian) rights of local landowners and that these issues would only be finaly resolved by a court.
    Interestingly, the 'ancient laws' might also be taken to include Magna Carta which includes a clear right for anyone acting as a 'merchant' to navigate rivers. The wording is very general and could reasonably be taken to include almost anyone on any river. Rev Doug Caffyn has written a thesis on this subject (available from the BCU). His contention is that the current understanding of the law stems from a misrepresentation in a paper intended to codify the law, written in 1830. He feels that the paper did not correctly interpret the state of the law. If you are ever sued for trespass on a river, he's your man.

  44. #44

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    I'm not sure how to go about searching for the answer to the following but somewhere in law there must be something which gives aircraft permission to cross a persons property, any logical thinking person would expect some sort of height being specified above ground level for instance.

    But we all know that English law because of its roots and the way it has evolved often isn't logical, I was just pondering on whether this was an angle to investigate?

    Afterall a canoeist doesn't generally touch the land itsself during a paddle only at start and finish, normally several feet above it held up by water (hopefully!!) and just like air, the landowner doesn't own the water, the local water authority has control over that (although now all water boards are private entities I do wonder how that still works!)

    On the comments on the dis-used canal a little higher in the thread, I started wondering who actually owns them? When they were built was the land purchased from the landowners or did the landowner still own the rights to them and take some form of rent from the operators? Not that it really affects anything I was just wondering....

    Just some thoughts whooshing round in my head!

    Rols.


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    Quote Originally Posted by ukrols
    I'm not sure how to go about searching for the answer to the following but somewhere in law there must be something which gives aircraft permission to cross a persons property, any logical thinking person would expect some sort of height being specified above ground level for instance.

    But we all know that English law because of its roots and the way it has evolved often isn't logical, I was just pondering on whether this was an angle to investigate?

    Afterall a canoeist doesn't generally touch the land itsself during a paddle only at start and finish, normally several feet above it held up by water (hopefully!!) and just like air, the landowner doesn't own the water, the local water authority has control over that (although now all water boards are private entities I do wonder how that still works!)

    On the comments on the dis-used canal a little higher in the thread, I started wondering who actually owns them? When they were built was the land purchased from the landowners or did the landowner still own the rights to them and take some form of rent from the operators? Not that it really affects anything I was just wondering....

    Just some thoughts whooshing round in my head!

    Rols.
    I believe the landowner, whilst not owning the water, retains rights of use for it which include the right of fishing and the right of navigation. These can be sold by the landowner and hence the landowner may not always be the current owner of the fishing amd navigation rights. The landowner does not retain the rights to use of the airspace above his land as far as I know and hence aircraft are not considered to be 'trespassing' although they are subject to their own regulations and control which place the limits for low flying.

    In general I believe the canal companies purchased the land the canals required. Indeed this purchase was usually supported by an act of parliament specific to the creation of each canal - a sort of compulsory purchase order. When canal companies failed the canal (and the associated land) would have passed to some purchaser - although I suspect in many cases disused canals have been filled and reappropriated by the landowners without formal repurchase.

    Caveat: The above is just from general reading filtered through memory - I'm no expert here.
    Happy paddling ,
    Rob.


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    Isnt this access problem to do with who maintains the land adjacent to the water in a lot of cases,the canals are maintained by british waterways and access is more or less open,also I believe that if a river has been used in the past as a trade route you can still use it today as long as permission is granted by the landowner to access the water.

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    Default two sides to every arguement

    I think one thing we have to bear in mind here, is we in England live in a very crowded country, which is one of the reasons we have so many strict rules about access. As a local water bailiff explained to a canoeing colleague he caught launching illegally, he is not worried about the fish, but more the erosion to the bank, as canoeists tend to find one spot (the easiest) to launch. All the access spots we have on the upper tamar are over soft ground, and in the winter, the erosion is a problem, and someone has to maintain the banks.

    Out of Bounds:

    I am also in a dilemma here, I am lucky enough that my house overlooks a beautiful stretch of the river tamar, which I have to canoe illegally or not at all. Its beauty and tranquility is probably one of the loveliest in the country, last time I did this I saw an otter swimming up the river. If this river section was made open to the public, it could become like the Serpentine on a Sunday, and goodbye any wildlife.

    A bizarre situation that we experienced a couple weeks ago. We were in our canoe at the pool below Gunnislake Weir on the Tamar, a big bull seal was there so I beached the canoe on a rocky beach on an island in the middle of the (tidal) river to watch it. The island is about 50 yards long by 10 wide and covered in trees. This old ratbag of a woman on the bank kept shouting at us that we could not land there. I knew the banks were private, but the island? Anyway, with her yelling at us, we decided it was not worth staying. But that kind of attitude really annoys me, we were one quiet canoe out to enjoy the wildlife.

    NIMBY's....but I am one!
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Thompson
    As a local water bailiff explained to a canoeing colleague he caught launching illegally, he is not worried about the fish, but more the erosion to the bank, as canoeists tend to find one spot (the easiest) to launch.
    But if you have access to all river and lakes there will not be the same concentration of canoeists in one spot. Spread out across all the rivers etc there would not be the same pressure on the banks.

  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Laird
    Isnt this access problem to do with who maintains the land adjacent to the water in a lot of cases,the canals are maintained by british waterways and access is more or less open,also I believe that if a river has been used in the past as a trade route you can still use it today as long as permission is granted by the landowner to access the water.
    If the owner of the rights to navigation (usually the landowner) gives you permission it doesn't matter if there has been historical acces or not MAybe there is something in those old trading stautes that would give us access even without permission on some other rivers as well but that really *ought* to be a job for those overly quiet gentelmen in the BCU.

    There are some rivers that do have a historical right of navigation and these are the ones we can use without needing permission, for canals the rights of navigation owner liscences access to us i.e we pay for it.
    Happy paddling ,
    Rob.


  50. #50

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    I know that my local river (Leven) is supposed to be navigable and that the public have rights to canoe, boat, swim or anything that is legal
    Which brings me to ask, anybody up for a trip down the Leven?

  51. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Thompson
    IIf this river section was made open to the public, it could become like the Serpentine on a Sunday, and goodbye any wildlife.
    Your concerns are quite justified, our wild land does need to be managed but the issue is how it is managed. Simply devolving control of access to the whims of the person lucky enough to 'own' our natural resources is far from the best way of doing things.

    We should have free access unless there is an issue rather than no access in case there an issue.

    Under the Scottish system if there were excessive erosion, distrurbance to wildlife or any other problem then it could be addressed by the statutory bodies set up to oversee access - the local access forums for example. Anyone owner/manager could easily have access restricted if there was a legitimate concern.

    Conversely, the right of access comes with a responsibilty to behave and not to do any damage. If you're causing damage, your right to access disappears in a puff of legal smoke.

    Lastly, and a bit more cynically, I feel that while protection of these wild places is cited as a reason for limiting access it it seldom more than an excuse. Get your cheque book out and, abracabra, access is yours.
    Veni Vidi Natavi

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Thompson
    As a local water bailiff explained to a canoeing colleague he caught launching illegally, he is not worried about the fish, but more the erosion to the bank, as canoeists tend to find one spot (the easiest) to launch. All the access spots we have on the upper tamar are over soft ground, and in the winter, the erosion is a problem, and someone has to maintain the banks.
    I think that England’s waterways have been maintained to death. The whole country is clipped and pruned and gardened and the riverbanks are no exception. All the damage has already been done as the river banks were made pretty to look at, the shore line wild space habitat and all of its wild life was destroyed; gone forever. If left alone for 20 years they would naturally erode deposit the silt where it wants to go and regenerate the natural plants and insects which would over time encourage the larger species to come back; the ones that are not extinct anyhow. In Canada all the riverbanks (for the most part) are wild so erosion is not an issue as the land regenerates itself; mind you it is not as pretty to look at on a tour bus at 40 miles per hour.
    Canoes and canoeists don't cause erosion, hundreds of them may, but as John points out if access was open for all, the canoeists would not be overusing one area. Powerboats and jet skis cause the most erosion (just ask anyone from Venice). This campsite on East Grand Lake is washed daily by fishermen in powerboats. Look at the roots of the cedar trees that are exposed.


    I think England has other systemic issues that have to be overcome first before anyone can get around to tackling the access issue. Having the right to use the waterways and the right of landing is fundamental; useing them is more in keeping with the spirit of the law rather than the letter of the law. I am afraid that if I lived in England I would be a criminal.
    Lloyd

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    Quote Originally Posted by John
    I know that my local river (Leven) is supposed to be navigable and that the public have rights to canoe, boat, swim or anything that is legal
    Which brings me to ask, anybody up for a trip down the Leven?
    Might be better to stick that in a thread of its own in the Meet up section. It might be lost in here.

    And since you are in Scotland all rivers have rights of access for canoeists

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    Quote Originally Posted by gwing
    If the owner of the rights to navigation (usually the landowner) gives you permission it doesn't matter if there has been historical acces or not MAybe there is something in those old trading stautes that would give us access even without permission on some other rivers as well but that really *ought* to be a job for those overly quiet gentelmen in the BCU.

    There are some rivers that do have a historical right of navigation and these are the ones we can use without needing permission, for canals the rights of navigation owner liscences access to us i.e we pay for it.
    The BCU and its access officers have been trying for 30 years to get improved access on rivers. The BCU has been a member of a government sponsored liaison committee between landowners, anglers and canoeists for some time. The government's preference is for access to be 'agreed' between interested parties.

    In all this time, access to a negligible length of additional waterways have been secured. It is now time to seek an alternaive solution.

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    Default Cabal ownership

    l
    Quote Originally Posted by gwing

    In general I believe the canal companies purchased the land the canals required. Indeed this purchase was usually supported by an act of parliament specific to the creation of each canal - a sort of compulsory purchase order. When canal companies failed the canal (and the associated land) would have passed to some purchaser .
    Canals usually have a proprietor specified in the acts, who can pass on ownership. Many failed canal companies ownership can no longer be traced. The Secretary of State stated that they could empower a new organisation to take over the powers of a navigation / canal company provided it would restore the canal / navigation in question. Anyone got serveral million quid and fancies restoring a waterway? I know what to do if I ever win the lottery...

    Magna Carta (or an amendement c.1400 states rivers shall be kept clear of keddles (fish weirs). They had their priorities right back then - King (or Barons) was/were obviously keen boaters.

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  56. #56

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    Just returned from the lakes and noticed a sign by the river Crake that read "BCU access agreement no access allowed" now if the BCU are spendind money on nicely crafted wooden signposts maybe I should remove them and use them for paddles!

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    Yep, done the Crake earlier this year.

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    Default Access rights (BCU agreements)

    Quote Originally Posted by The Laird
    Just returned from the lakes and noticed a sign by the river Crake that read "BCU access agreement no access allowed"
    Where do the BCU publish details of the agreements they have made so we can check? After all what's to stop someone saying they have an agreement when they have not?

    If we all know where to check then we won't be canoeing where genuine agreements not to have been made.

    Brevan
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brevan
    If we all know where to check then we won't be canoeing where genuine agreements not to have been made.
    Are you sure? Whilst I am happy to conform to a reasonable agreement if it exists, I will not be barred from paddling a river where no agreement has been negotiated.

    The BCU advice is always to contact the Local River Advisor before you paddle. They can also update you on known recent hazards, fallen trees, landslides and the like. LRAs can be found on the BCU website.

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    At some point, still well before land reform, the SCA adopted a policy of not entering into access agreements, as to do so was seen as a tacit acceptance of the status quo and the rights of the landowner to restrict access.

    At that time, the situation in Scotland was still more open than England & Wales is now in that, so long as you could get on the river and off again, you could paddle 'across' private land. Other than the odd dreepie down from a bridge or issue at a localised hotspot we could still paddle, the access debate was better balanced so we were able to take that stance.

    Whether this approach would work for England & Wales where the balance is much further in favour of the landowners I don't really know. I suspect not, but it does feel an awful lot better. The years of negotiation appear to have had limited results.
    Veni Vidi Natavi

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