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Are there rules for everything?

PUBLISHED: 09:44 01 October 2015 | UPDATED: 09:44 01 October 2015

Head of Jersey Cow

Head of Jersey Cow

(c) Digital Vision.

Rules for walking in the countryside

Public Footpath SignPublic Footpath Sign

Working in the Land Management team is a complete privilege: our “raw material” is the most beautiful countryside – a chequerboard of pastureland dotted with dairy herds, ridges majestically dominating the Cheshire plain, castles guarding the Sandstone Trail, idyllic winding green lanes meandering past the ubiquitous black & white Tudor cottages.

Whilst we are lucky enough to work here, others come to visit and enjoy the riches of this fair county on their breaks. And why does anyone go on holiday? Why – to get away from it all: from the 9-5 days, the daily commuting battles, the same four walls (with the unopened pile of post and never-decreasing ironing mountain), and from the rules and regulations that govern every-day life.

Public right to roam sign.Public right to roam sign.

Ah. There we have it. Rules and regulations… as much as we’d all like to think that wandering about the British countryside (be it Cheshire, or anywhere else) is a pastime without restriction, there are laws governing where you can and can’t go, what you can and can’t do and also what landowners must provide when they have footpaths and bridleways criss-crossing their land. Whilst we might all believe that ‘health & safety stuff’ blights our lives, there is a serious side to being safe in what might appear a landscape without threat. Many farmers are alarmed at risks thrown up by footpaths passing through farmyards and fields. In the House of Commons debate last year, snappily entitled ‘New Clause 15 — Footpaths: provisions to stop up or divert due to privacy, safety or security’, MP Bill Wiggin said “A 21st-century farm is dangerous. Equipment is often operated at higher speeds, is incredibly heavy and has risky blind spots. Livestock can be unpredictable, territorial and easily provoked, i.e. by a dog. Equally, farmers cannot be placed in a position of responsibility for the safety of walkers among livestock. No farmer can say with complete confidence that their cattle would always be 100% safe…The priority for all must be safety.”

S&P can advise Landlords on the legal status of rights of way, which areas of Open Access land are mapped, guidance on landowners’ responsibilities, rights and liabilities, make sure your signage is absolutely clear, how to tackle trespass (usually unintentional!), help with appropriate fencing and gateways, and advise you on your duty of care under the Occupiers’ liability Acts.

For those of us who live here, in order for our guests to keep safe, the best advice we can give is to show them the Countryside Code. Unlike some documents that come out of government bodies, this is short – and easy to follow!

Scientists have proven that “interacting with nature” boosts memory and concentration levels – and even an hour strolling through countryside increases the brain’s performance by a fifth. So what will you lasting impressions of the Cheshire countryside give you? A sense of space, a sense of history, and the wisdom of a sage!

Strutt & Parker, 37 Lower Bridge Street, Chester CH1 1RS 01244 354855

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