Walk to freedom

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Mr Dave Morris, director of Ramblers Scotland, exhorts each and all to get off their bums, into their walking boots and hit the high road (Friends of The Scotsman, 16 July).

Who could possibly disagree with exercise that lightens the brain, makes the legs supple
and imprints in the memory sights and smells which will see us through the cauld blast o’ winter.

Alas, Mr Morris’ enthusiasm has overshot his wisdom.

The Land Reform Act does not give all legitimate users unhindered access to the countryside.

Mr Morris may wish to ­examine a plethora of illegal padlocks fitted to new and old gates within a three-mile radius of East Linton, including the John Muir Country Park.

In each case the road or path which is impeded was an historical path or drove road. None of the 25 padlocked gates gives entry to a farmers’ field.

The parliamentary draughtsmen who scripted the Land Reform Act told me that: “The owner of land in respect of which access rights are exercisable shall not, for the purpose or for the main purpose of preventing or deterring any person entitled to exercise these rights from doing so.”

In short, a farmer can dump a load of dung, a load of mouldy oats, a load of rotten tatties across an established path and block it to any height.

Similarly, he can erect a high wicker fence, plant a Leylandii hedge, erect a steel gate and padlock it too so long as he is prepared to claim that his main purpose is not to stop walkers or other users but simply to stop foxes trying to get at his lambs.

East Lothian Council officers will not challenge these landowners in court as they fear they will lose. Thus Mr Morris’s noble dream of bringing happiness through health implodes by the hand of legal scribes.

If I can release my native county from the chains and padlocks placed by landowners and permitted by a lifeless council then a noble cause will be met. Perhaps the only recourse I have is to pursue a new form of government which will be willing to change this crooked legislation.

If vote Yes I must then must I will.

Arthur Greenan

McCall Gardens

East Linton, East Lothian