A thought provoking piece, I will buy one of Nick’s books to better understand his views on land use and access to it.

Like most people I have had experiences that have shaped my views about access to land and water. Three instances come to mind. Yesterday, my wife and I did a walk through some countryside in central Cornwall. We wandered along in steady "Cornish Sunshine” and came across blocked footpaths and boundary treatments that were clearly installed for the purposes of dissuading even the most ardent walker. We got home sodden , filthy but exhilarated that we conquered the obstacles. Secondly my parents were avid Ramblers for much of their lives, I have proud memories of them confronting land owners that blocked or diverted public rights of way, though at the time I have to admit that as a teenager I cringed. Thirdly in 1990 I found myself in the privileged position to be passing the islands of Namuto and Tavarua in Fiji. I was going to surf some reefs further down because only paying guests could surf the two aforementioned breaks. At the the time I felt resentful that my fellow travellers and I were blocked access to these hallowed places. Since then the Fijian authorities have allowed access to all comers. The reefs in this area were pristine beyond measure when I traveled through and I hope this is still the case. My fear however is that this environment will have been degraded by the largely unintended actions by the increasing flow of visiting surfers. Similarly one only has to look at the degradation of the landscapes in the Lakes and most other national parks for the unintended consequences of mass access.

These three examples demonstrate my promiscuous relationship with attitudes to land and water ownership and access. Closing in on a significant birthday I feel that I should by now have developed a more cogent response to these totemic issues for mankind. I cannot shake off the impression that Nick is pushing old arguments of the disenfranchised for access rather than asking what can be done for the Environment. If mankind had the time to work through some of this stuff I would not object however we do n’t. Rebecca Olive's ideas requiring people to ask what they can do for land and water seems more viable at this stage.

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Thought provoking stuff indeed. Now while I largely agree with nick’s base sentiments about access to land being good for the people, he’s treading close to the line of partially-informed crusty activism for the sake of riling people. The thing that makes me say that is the bit about the Middletons - they have lived in Upper Bucklebury (Chapel Row actually I think) for a very long time, so it’s a bit of a stretch to suggest that P-Middy (love it) has just strolled in with a big pile of cash and bought half the village. It’s her home. Now whether she’s evicting a load of people that benefit from the property is another point entirely, but I suspect we’re only getting one side of the story.

Regardless, I was in a book shop the other day and bought his book, so I’m willing to be educated.

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