September 30, 2020

The Call to Adventure Podcast - Episode 9 - Nick Hayes

Nick Hayes is an author, illustrator, graphic novelist, political cartoonist, and avid countryside explorer
Podcast Guest
Nick Hayes


Show Notes

  • Discovering Nick's book
  • What is trespassing?
  • The controversial conservative government legislation to criminalise trespassing
  • Trespassing laws
  • Is the outdoors for everyone?
  • The history of land ownership in England
  • The UK's restrictive land access compared to other European countries
  • CROW Act
  • Nick's book
  • Nick's trespasses featured in the book
  • Nature as a National Health Service
  • Nature - the great equaliser
  • Right to Roam
  • Roger Deakin's Waterlog
  • Learning to minimise your impact on the environment
  • How to support the Right to Roam

Full Transcript

George Beesley
Nick Hayes, welcome to the show.

Nick Hayes
Thanks very much for having me.

George Beesley
Let's kick off with how we connected or how I found out about the world of Nick Hayes. So, a few weeks ago, I came across a petition to stop a proposal to criminalize trespassing. Initially I thought yeah this is definitely something that I want to sport and then I thought I should probably actually read a little bit around it to see what I'm actually supporting and then I came across your book, quite a few people had mentioned it, and people were talking about it and that that's the the book of trespass so can we just kick off with what is trespassing.

Nick Hayes
Oh, well trespassing is the word that I would say that elite power gives to the freedoms roam the countryside is actually one of those rare words in the English language that carries the sort of judgment of the Act, along with sort of description of it, like I guess loitering if you describe people as loitering outside of whatever, it's going to make people think that they were hanging around with some kind of mal intent. And similarly trespass is just the way that landed property likes to call people, I guess expressing what in Sweden or in Scotland or Estonia would simply be considered as a kind of a human right right to explore nature, what's the current kind of legal status of it then I mean that I kind of alluded to, a little bit there so am i right in thinking that it's a civil offense but it's not criminal yet, if people are kind of thinking like okay so yeah I've got this better idea about what trespassing is now it's, there's this whole kind of history behind it. It's not just a description, it carries this whole connotation with it as well but most people probably don't know what happens if you get called trespassing. So what does normally happen well so currently trespass resides in common law, which basically means that it's described as a tort, which is defined as kind of any damage caused to an.

And so at the moment if you're trespassing walking on land that you don't own this also applies to rivers and kayaking and wild swimming. If you don't own the land and you don't have the landowners permission to be there, they have the right to kick you off the land, using this sort of rather gray ground kind of definition of reasonable force. So, day to day. What's most likely to happen to you. Is that a landowner or their representative will confront you, there has to be said most often in quite a kind of machismo kind of aggressive way. And if you refuse to leave. Then, they have the right to approve the lease, yet still you can't be arrested, unless you actually then cause a breach of peace. However, this autumn the conservatives they've been losing it for about 10 years it's something they desperately want to do. No doubt to shore up the base, but they're now going to criminalize trespass, ostensibly that is to clamp down on the traveling community to give the police extra powers which three quarters of police that responded to the survey said they neither one nor needed it. And actually this was the result of the closure of many travelers sites, and less than travelers nowhere else to be but just naked. Fine. Now this criminalization of intentional trespass. Well, I sensibly clamp down on the traveling community that has very serious repercussions to the rest of the, the exploration community with climbers swimmers, because actually the words in the manifesto are just simply intentional trespass. So if you can't prove that you were there by accident, then there's every chance that you'll be criminalized again like I said in Scotland is just considered.

Yeah, I found it a bit of a tricky one to navigate as I looked further into it, I kind of heard reasonable people on both sides of it some who supported it and somebody didn't a lot in their outdoor community and mountain leaders who were saying that they, they think it's fine and they supported it. Then, a lot of other people who said that they didn't, and Ramblers who were kind of on the fence or, or actually kind of initially refused it and then actually said that they were kind of happy with it because I did see that there was some clarification from the home office when they said that Ramblers and wild campers wouldn't be prosecuted if it weren't for them but I don't know how that was actually clarified because governments have a history of kind of wedging a piece of legislation through the kind of spin wedge type idea where they'll say that it's not supposed to be applied to lots of cases and it's supposed to apply here, but when there is the ability for government to apply in the wider extent, then they often do power, always expands. So, did you see anything. is there anything in there that says wild campers or people doing kind of recreational activity won't be prosecuted or was it just wording around that commentary from the government to say, now you guys will be fine even though it's not actually in the legislation.

Well, when additional close that about 34,000 so they largely have caused this to be debated in Parliament, which is fundamentally what we wanted. The thing is when when you get past 10,000 the government will send you a response and you're right, Ramblers, and swimmers will not be targeted but that's on the premise that these people stay within the lines you know that way. There's also another repercussion just quickly on rights of way that is a right of way it's been used for 20 years or has been used for 20 years, and you can prove that, then it becomes the right of way. So obviously the criminalization of trespass can now threaten the creation of new rights of way that have mainly been going in evidence for 19 years and then all of a sudden people will basically at this stage just be completely unaware as to whether this will constitute a criminal act or not. So fundamentally, we can't be sure, at the moment, but it looks in terms of the wording that I've used very likely that it's not just going to be the traveling community that gets penalized for this. And moreover just that sense of criminalization of trespass is actually going to force people further away or be less inclined to take that risk or to use that part even if they are not exactly sure whether it is of access. And it also applies to people that are classed as part of the traveling community who many of them necessarily see as travelers and that's kind of the van dwellers. I'm just about to move on to my girlfriend, and all that the River Thames. Over the past few years, more and more known warning signs have been sort of stamped into their backs, which fundamentally means if you are just traveling from A to B and you need somewhere to stop is getting harder and harder to actually find the place. The police will begin to impound our vehicle which fundamentally means if you are just traveling from A to B and you need somewhere to stop. It's getting harder and harder to actually find the place. The police will be getting ours to impound, our vehicle, aka take away your home and leave people homeless, so if it does actually transpire, the Ramblers while swimmers. None of these groups will be affected. There's still a very strong concern that the government. Basically transgressing the equalities act by targeting people to travel and effectively making them homeless, so even a bit transpires, and we'd be very surprised if this is the case that ramble is fine. There's still a human rights consideration, here, and one with historically some pretty soon as you start targeting the traveling community, it was a well known back in the 30s gypsies, you're sort of shoring up an authoritarian state that is then historically speaking just moved on to, I guess, to seek to control the wider community.Yeah, and it seemed like generally a Western governments are heading more towards that what I didn't think were at the same extent, or the same risk as a lot of places like the United States for example is becoming much more authoritarian and bringing out the National Guard to police the Black Lives Matter protests, and the looting to but that's a whole nother complex issue so looking at other governments in Europe as well. A lot of them are becoming more right wing, or I should say are moving towards more center and then more to the right so there's certainly something to be said about wanting to protect civil liberties, in a time where things aren't looking quite as rosy as they have been in the past and another kind of impact addition that you mentioned was the right to protest as well. So can you talk a little bit about that as well how it might impact the right to protest is trespass with an intense resolve is how the bill is being proposed. And so that would affect any of the anti fracking communities that actually won their battles against cuadrilla or stopped fracking up in Preston, for example, that would just not have been possible were the police able to remove protesters who wanted to spend you know more than five minutes on the side of the road, making that point to protest as against HS two will be affected, certainly what they're looking to do with extinction rebellion The police have come down a lot harder on them this time around the rebellion. So, unfortunately we're sort of in the fog as everyone else about exactly what they're trying to do, but obviously what we wanted to do was actually cause a debate in Parliament so that we could shine some light on what the government is proposing and basically forced their hand to actually be more explicit, because the way they have it now is just entirely open, and it's anyone's guess as to exactly where it will actually land, just on a more nuanced point this idea that actually not knowing whether you're going to be a criminal if you overstep the line in the countryside. At the moment access to nature, or being outside or exercising, for most people in England is just about a holiday. It's about as exalted sized and orientalist as it possibly can be. And as I guess the health crisis in England is proving, that's just not enough. The government needs to be encouraging people towards nature and not criminalized. I couldn't agree more. We recently wrote a piece called is the outdoors for everyone, and there's been a lot of controversy recently with lockdown a lot more people are going, a few places so a massive rise in the number of people testing, like Snowdonia for example, and more people trying wild camping. And I think, on the whole, it was really good. I mean more people getting outside is great but there were a case of a few bad apples, and I think you will you will always get that, but I think it was blown massively out of proportion, and there's a few different problems and parties within it there's the kind of outdoor elitists who don't like anybody from the city coming out to what they think of as their mountain Yeah, and I understand why there's some hesitancy to embrace people, when they see a few examples of people who are acting responsibly and enjoying the outdoors, they should do. But our whole philosophy is that you should encourage more people to the outdoors, for the, the benefits that we all know are there kind of health, mental health, physical health well being, environmental, and social all the kind of example of benefits that everybody knows. Pretty concrete and clear and proof. By now, but we do just need to make sure that people are better educated about how to act responsibly, and kind of set a good example. And I think it's our responsibility in the outdoor industry and as authors and also people who are influential in the space to make sure that you instead embrace more people going into the countryside, and kind of teach them how to do it right as opposed to chastise everybody for a few people not doing it right.

I think the problem of lockdown was very serious indeed, because there was kind of pub club, and kind of festival culture. Basically it's somewhere to get high, and to get off your head, and in principle I'm totally I think that's totally legit like the countryside is a pretty good place to get off. But the problem is they were bringing with it, a disposable culture that is more evident in kind of city in town pubs and clubs, but also the festivals that you know the hippies that go to Glastonbury and I mean hippies like me. And then you see Glastonbury The day after and it's just like someone's gone around tipping out, everyone in Glastonbury's rubbish. they've just devastated the fields. So there is a general problem with kind of commodification culture disposable culture, the fact that we don't live in a kind of cycle economy where you know you can take your bottles back to the supermarket and get a, you know, get a quote for them or in return, such as what happens in Europe, etc. But then you look at the more systemic side of it, and people, people just don't talk the countryside code because it's not just letter there's vandalism the sheep worrying there's like dogs off leashes.

There's the crushing of ground nesting birds, all of these landowners valid concerns, and to be listened to them with open ears and open hearts, but the point is, the government, we fly, the government on how much they'd spent since 2004 on publicizing the countryside code, because it was revamped in 2004. And the answer was 2000 pounds a year, which is a finger so small, so negligible that you know you think it barely pays for the printing of pamphlets, let alone their distribution, if you go to the countryside you'll find a lot more keep our private woodland no trespassing signs than you will any signs, kind of explaining to you exactly, not just what you're expected to do in the countryside, but also why I've been Scotland, which practices the right brain, there's a study that shows that actually, to be honest it's no great revelation that people respond much better to explanations, and to context and to reasons as to why adult might have to be on a leash or all this kind of thing than they do just being told and banned outright people fundamentally are a sort of conversation or dialogue based, you know community of creatures, we need to understand why we need to treat the countryside in. In, with respect. And I guess one of the parts of this campaign that we're running, which is right to Rome to all UK where we're looking to actually extend the countryside and rights of way over woodland over rivers, over Greenbelt, and over down, so what do you think might be a better alternative to what they've drafted so far. Number one, with regards to Ramblers and basically communities that aren't travelers absolutely what needs to happen, which is just like what happened in Scotland. When the right to Rome came in the concept of a righty Ryan was completely contingent on the sort of carrying out of the very clear, very rigid responsibilities that we have to the countryside.

So you're only allowed your right to roam by the law of Scotland, Estonia will spin. If you don't break any of the rules that actually are there not just to care for the countryside and its ecology, but also the workers and the landowners and fundamentally to protect private space you know this idea of personal sanctity. So we would want to see a right to Rome, extended over those four terrains that I previously mentioned, but only when an increase in responsibilities and kind of legislation shows up the protection of the countryside. And actually when labor brought in the countryside and rights of way Act, which gave us 8% to grow, largely in kind of inaccessible you know Moreland regions, but there are like little speckles of all around the rest of the country,some of which by the way you have to trespass to get to Jeunesse mainly due to a lack of planning.

We want to see just like happened with proact, an increase in the legislation. So for example, before the crow act to accidentally step on a ground nesting bird was defined as different to intentionally. After the crow Act. The two were considered to be just as bad as each other so what that did was kind of shore up a protection for ground nesting birds which made people, a lot more cautious, so we would want absolutely the government to endorse, an extension of countryside and rights of way act and use that use the momentum of that and the publicity of that to actually channel, a far greater understanding of, you know how to act in the countryside in terms of the traveling community, there used to a certain degree of bigotry, or racism. That doesn't mean to say they accepted, but they're used to being the kind of outsiders, for no other real reason other than, there's a kind of Orthodoxy in England, or in Western Europe to, I guess kind of the fixity of property, if you don't have a route if you don't have a home or a society is kind of slanted against you. I mean I'm just about to like a saint go in a boat so automatically licensed like how do I register with a GP or how do I register for, say, an old fridge to get collected by the Council if I don't come from the address, this actually sort of extends much deeper into the real traffic community and councils have just started shutting regular traveler sites that have existed sometimes for centuries, giving these people fewer and fewer places to actually reside come to rest for a couple of months, or a week or whatever. And then all of a sudden we're blaming these people for the lack of spaces that they have to resign. And if we want to live in a fair and equal and Justin, which is what we're always been told. We need to provide for the communities of all of the communities that live alongside each other. And we, we're not providing to the traffic community.

So we decorate that that situation with stories that are crime or this kind of thing, which in many cases true there are travelers that steal there are people that live at home, and steal. The fact is that these people are being grouped together, and kind of labeled by the most negative outlier acts of the people in their community and for some reason, even the white community of England feels that it's for some reason, more acceptable to group, a traveling community together and kind of pejorative epithets in a way that they would never dream of doing with say other marginalized communities, whether it be migrants or people of color. I think this is something that England really needs to look at is why we have accepted this bigotry against the trans community in a way that most of us would refuse to do for any other community that we can think of, yeah I've not really heard of as to why the traveling community is kind of the last group who are left to be marginalized and people, not really realize that that's the case, there is a whole history behind it which I'll go into in my book, you know just the whole phrase gypsies comes from Henry the Eighth subjection act where he decided to label people who will essentially from righteous that he decided to label them Egyptians because he simply didn't know any better. And from that moment onwards, there has been a kind of projection on to the traveling community that never stops to ask for the perspective or the voice of that community, but simply only layers, I guess kind of Orthodox societies frame upon. I'm sure you've had a lot of complaints about the traveller community than you ever have a person from the community, even be asked about these things. I can see why it's a difficult problem to solve that lifestyle. I think when there's a smaller population, it makes it a lot easier for that kind of lifestyle to continue. But now, as you said with austerity and things being closed and the kind of traditional way that the traveller communities would perhaps stay on farmer's fields for a little while, or in their, I think in your book you talk about the not village was not cricket ground but it's something like the kind of village green before them moved on and that was much more tolerated. Given that they live such a different life, what would be a good solution to the problem or what do you think should happen, fundamentally the answer lies with the traveling community as much as it does with the wider community, we're in touch with right around the UK and friends, families and travelers which is just one of the large groups of representatives to the draft. But to be honest, unless we were in discussion with them about this criminalization trespass what strikes me as obvious examples is, you know, in dialogue with traveling communities, and local councils can provide access space for accounts to turn up that you know for the caravans to come, but other than that, which just seems like them, you know, sort of picking the lowest hanging fruit to rest. To be down to the underrepresented voice of the traveling community. So, when we are creating preparations for the government of Spain.

Even though some have been canceled when we are in discussion with with with all the vested interests that we think might be affected. But similarly, as a spot for friends, families and travelers and any other traveler group that might want to give some advice or sort of open our minds to their experience really is a fact of life and English history that should be celebrated. And two centuries was celebrated, especially in the era of kind of more itinerant work, and now it's just simply being no space, accorded to this community. So in a way, is it any wonder why there's so much presentable enmity between the settled, and the nonsense of wimps, that's the role of government that's what they're there for. They have to provide for the community. Instead, they've chosen to use travelers as a kind of like an automated tree in order, most likely to get us to vote or to be positive towards and restrict the freedom is something that I discovered having a look at your book is that access to 92% of land and 97% of waterways is currently bound by trespass which is unbelievable. I would have never expected it to be that high. Can you just talk a little bit about the history of England's land ownership to give a bit of context before we go a bit deeper into where things are now and how we ended up with this state where almost everything is privately owned, can you just dilate on that a little bit, way back in 1066, William of Normandy came over and conquered England in his inverted commas, which basically meant laneways to most North soccer fields and, you know, conduct a campaign, something short genocide, and what he did was instill, kind of a new sense of what it meant to me. And that was essentially exclusive access. The reason for that lies in the word forest forest fundamentally has nothing to do with trees or the kind of terrain that lies within it but forest comes from the Latin meaning outside, so he basically created areas outside of the common law, that are being practiced by the Anglo Saxons more common law was regarding the commons was about everyone had a right to the land so whether they used it for hunting or whether they used it for winter fuel in terms of Wordle to feed cattle, take their pigs. But in return they have their current list of responsibilities that they own as well. All of that was by William the Conqueror that basically wanted to create thousands of acres of land that we've dedicated just to the production of very flighty individuals. So what he wanted was just no one inside these forests, and that's exactly what he got, and as I guess the Magna Carta sold more power to Barron's, and then through the Tudor period more power was kind of given to the mercantile class in lawyers that were coming back from the Georgian period, the kind of colonial East India. When more and more of these common areas of common land, were being privatized either illegally, or through legal acts of Parliament, which basically right up until the 1830s the reformation of parliament was just a cabal of landowners who had to own large swathes of land to even be considered by buying land, you also effectively bought your MP ship or your membership. So if you look at the way that the laws of property were actually written or the john Locke's the Samuel person dosta Hugo grotius the William Blackstone's. Not only were these men all writing under the patronage of land, but they were fundamentally landowners themselves, and was shoring up or sort of defining a notion of property that was fundamentally based on the exclusion of the public lock in his very famous to treat instance, as sort of goes in, basically. Each of these men are trying to justify what Carol m rows are some lower academic costs ownership. That is like how something commonly owned could morally ethically become private and john Locke said something that's actually on the outside quite reasonable if you come to a patch of waste grab and you mix it with your effort so you know you yoke up the oxen, and you start plowing the seeds, then you have a right to protect that land if someone else tries to come in, or at least protect the wheat neoliberalism and capitalism sort of was basing all of their laws on private property on these two treaties. I've also forgotten what was called the lockean proviso, which was ways that as long as enough is left in common so that people can look after themselves. The comments were basically the welfare state that allowed the working class to success without the need for food cues or coupons and stamps, just naturally gave these to people when it was privatized these people, not only were left homeless, but were also either forced into the workhouse or scores into cities where they became wage slaves of industrious, this thing that I really like, I think where we got to and your answer was for kind of moving people off the land and they became dependent, as they had to move to cities, and then that that kind of became well I guess all along there has been but one notable swell was the mass trespass of kin scout which I really like how you opened your book with that. Can you talk a little bit about what that was, in a way, it's kind of frustrating. Something that only included for your people. And fundamentally was an incursion onto private property is no more than 50 yards, it says something about the state of private property and in the back can be come so lionized. Fundamentally, Benny Rothman and a load of a young worker socialists met at the bleaklow clients the underpass basically spilled on mobile so gatekeepers who people were reading for them, that have been well publicized in advance, and a scuffle broke out and six of them including Benny Rothman were in prison. And the reason that they did that was because for the last hundred years. These Maus had been enclosed by the Ducati, and they were they were called kings. They were just free to roam for anyone that was wanted to take the by this stage, however, anyone's phone and all of his mates were very much, you know, day to day working in the industrial cities, Leeds or Manchester or Sheffield. About this time of youth hostels were created. It was very popular to go for walks, but that stayed certainly the one was 40 square miles around the bleaklow area. There were only a couple of parts and some of those parts were only open for one day a year. So when those parts were open, just like we've seen during post lockdown at Bournemouth beach or you know Victoria Park or whatever, these places where he thinks. And so the reason if we're honest, like is quite hard to put into words but the reason that a lot of us go to nature is for space is for the kind of psychological and physical sensation you get by being almost entirely on your own by being elated by just being you in a space full of wildness, and never getting none of this. So, I decided, actually a few trespasses before much lesser known and the few afterwards, which were much larger. For some reason, this one small trespass they only got about 50 hours until they were over the head. I don't know why it's entered this kind of mythology of England in such a way, and a lot of people in our society, etc. will say that actually this is just a kind of nonsense legend that the work done to create any sort of right to Rome with opening up the national parks in 1949. All of that was down to the work of James Bryce, who was a politician Octavia Hill, William Ruskin.

The artist and campaign space for working class people and Octavia Hill went on to found the National Trust, but to be honest, there's something as I say in my book there's something about a legend, really does is based on logic and private property, we needed those kind of basically just kind of knew they were just like 16 year old kids decided to meet up a landowner in community, and the radical presented offensively for what they've done because the community faced setbacks in the campaign 20 years they've done this disastrous stopping the tubes going down and counting town. By making this protest, a lot of the old guard around the community, thought they'd actually harms the campaign that's for some reason, still, you know, 100 years later, almost, it's, it's become this kind of Keystone in land rights history. And to be honest, 400 isn't that many people so it's the ambition of our campaign. Not that we'll get into spoilers, sort of emphatically but we will definitely be conducting targeted mass trespass is the best tells the story of how unfair it is that the larger community, simply to protect the interests of. Very often, a very distant man, that doesn't actually use the land.

So for your new kind of details some of these walks and trespass has been you done. Can you talk a little bit about one or two of those because it's not just like you're kind of observing from the sidelines and writing about the history of it, and then kind of sitting in your armchair, you're actually kind of going out there and experiencing what it is that many of us believe we all should be able to do, to explore a lot of that land that we're currently not able to So can you talk a bit about your experiences,

Actually, it is kind of trespassing but I think of it more as kind of exploring, I mean the whole point of the book that kind of, you know, surprise Final Chapter reveal. I'm very happy to be on now is, every single trespass that I did in the book was in accordance with the Scottish Rite to Rome. So had I done, all of the trespasses, in Scotland would not have been a contrast person would have simply been called walking and enjoying yourself in the countryside, I guess the whole framework of this book is just to examine why in England what is, is considered a crime is actually in Scotland. The place that I decided to go to illustrate this. Actually the culture of England was cut away by the privatization plan, which left no place for people to actually express themselves and to, you know, to form their own kind of community because to do it. We had to basically pay for them. So I went to wilderness festival which is a posh dock by the press because David Cameron goes there. Richard Gere was just as just as. This is just a very very luxurious and very well produced festival. And nothing against the festival itself but the point is that 100 years ago, before it was enclosed by the Super Bowl. There was a festival of 50,000 people with that lasted for about 50 years. It was just a free festival, people, apparently it was a picnic of Mormons that first started it off. And more and more people came, and it was a celebration of local culture, but the moment that Winston Churchill's granddad bought the land. He promised that the festival could continue for one year longer even that was alive. It basically trenches around the forest. This is important, oxygen, and this kind of gathering of people from all across the local districts was canceled from the calendar. Two years later, you can still go and rave in that same field. A 200 pounds of the privilege and up to 10,000 pounds to rent a painted Gypsy caravan suspend the romantic for me that just this sort of sense of enjoying nature of being part of enveloping yourself under the night sky camping out what whatever it is that sort of engages you with nature is only accessible in the kind of leisure industry of England's relationship to nature is you paid for it. And one of the most threatening things about walking, is that you don't have to pay for it. Likewise, kayaking, which, you know, in raises the owners, Rivers, simply because they read the exclusive rights to kind of occupy that river to the fishermen. And then you get a while a swimmer or kayak could come through and no one's charged them for that they, I mean, I buy a license from the British canoeing organization but the majority of that money goes to the upkeep of the river. So that's money well spent. And why not kind of licensing scheme that protects the environment that you enjoy. But the idea that I haven't paid any landowner for the privilege of swimming in a river is fine by me, because, rivers, offers so much mental and physical health. So many people are connected, or within easy distance of rivers just to use them as one example, a friend of mine Lucy Jones who wrote clues in Eden, which is about how nature, impacts on our mental health was turned off little spot on the river and simply go into this spot for about six years had a relationship with this spot, and the fishing biters came along and said, You've got absolutely no right to be here. Don't come back, and she did a bit of research and that fishing club owns or rents off the land owns about five and a half miles that stretch of river that is basically the stretch that runs to a near Basingstoke division club is comprised of 80 people, most of whom don't even live in England, but the hundred and 10,000 people in Basingstoke who might want to swim or kayak are all entirely. Just simply on the logic. If you haven't paid for it then you don't deserve. And obviously, it goes without saying. There's a massive class issue here, you know people that don't have the money, just don't have the opportunity to enjoy nature, the same way that people think once swimming is incredibly special, there's something almost, it does feel naughty isn't quite the word but it's almost like there's a little bit of Mystique to it when I was back home in Shropshire during lockdown one of my favorite things to do was just to go down to the local river, and just take a dip, and I love it because it requires no equipment, you literally don't need anything, just what the clothes off, even if you just got your boxes on here and then you're good to go. And there's something about that feeling of freedom that really connects you in a way to nature that few other things do that I've experienced wild camping is definitely another one. And also something free and yeah arguably you need a bit more stuff for it but there's a feeling that you get with those things that I think you don't with a lot of other stuff man, perhaps, hiking, you do but I love the fact that it's just a button down almost pure interaction with nature, and you see you get you really develop this a different appreciation for the things that around you when you're exploring by water, Roger Deakins book is really really good on this waterlogged and there's a couple of other great books that really encourage you to kind of explore your local area and even though I grew up in structure, seen places by the wildsmith just kind of swimming around was gave me such a different perspective on you personally. Yeah. You know there's definitely something to be said for experiencing a river valley from, you know, three millimeters above the water. I go into this trespass.

I think I've only ever seen one Kingfisher in my life, like I've been visiting the river Ladin quite a lot, largely because of Lucy's story and it kind of outrages me. It's not an open river, and actually further on the Duke of Wellington owns another seven and a half miles. And just, every time I wonder if another must stop counting the kingfishers they're just the most prosaic boring miracle that you could come across, and there is something that is very hard to put into words but I think our bodies, everyone listening this podcast will just know that our bodies field something out in nature is profoundly healing and profoundly worthwhile and however you want to decide it or define it. we need it. This isn't just leisure it's not just recreation, or something, if you want to call it more spiritual, or if you just want to talk about its effects to the human physiology body. It's really, we just need to reframe the way we look at nature. Natural Health Service that's exactly how it was presented in preparing the kind of package that they were going to offer the British people, and they were drawing up the National Health Service and the welfare state pensions, that kind of thing. Right to Rome was on the list, they were discussing it they were talking about right to Rome as a kind of system, right to the right to free health care. They kind of very logically so if we give people the right to right, then we can prevent many of the diseases. So provide people the ability to prevent the need for a cure. And of all the countries in the Western world, England is the most extreme evil in America and Australia, whose laws are based on our fundamental common laws allow right of access to rivers because they see it as a fundamental human right. You know, the real harm and the damage of trespass is not to the landowner at all. It's to the society that is fenced down with it.

And the result and, you know, mental and physical health vices developed. So, yeah, I would love to see something like they have here in Sweden, like, a month. And it's a constitutional rights so it's kind of explicitly laid out, and it's similar to Scotland's right to Rome, but I think might even go a little bit further, but a bit like you said earlier, it's only granted based on responsible action, whilst you're there but you're allowed to wild count and move freely on private land, other than gardens and near houses or cultivated land but you can pick wild flowers mushrooms berries and kind of yeah camp anywhere as long as it's non motorized for a couple of nights, but it's all based on Do Not Disturb do not destroy and something like that back home, Austria that are very close thing also has just this sort of much deeper orthodoxy of going out into nature, you know on Boxing Day in Austria everyone's got their skis in the booth and they're all going to the mountains, it's just something that you do, and England used to like the literature of England the poetry the medals in the art is a landscape based, you know, sort of dialogue that we have with land to ask.

Actually we've now sort of this sort of green and pleasant land that we've sort of formed the basis of our kind of national misters is actually just a lie, as there's really no connection that is encouraged by the government. And what you say about the elements that is is so true because the like Sweden even advertise every person's right as it's translated on Airbnb. It was like a sort of move to Sweden, it's great advertising move Swedish tourists. But you click on Swedish Tourist Board description of it and they basically say we don't have Big Ben, we don't have the Eiffel Tower, we don't have the Leaning Tower of Pisa or David or any of these great national monuments, our national monument is the legislated rights for people to enjoy our countryside, you know, Big Ben conformed as far as I'm concerned if we had a sort of legislated Catholic rite of government, encouraged way of enjoying nature with like you say the sort of fundamental responsibilities that come with it. I genuinely think not only the health of the nation. But there's also something to be said, going out into nature kind of gets us out of our way, you come across people in the woods or on the rivers that you would never come across in normal life, because these natural places are a natural common ground. You know, I've had long conversations with. There was one guy on the read a lot of Black Lives Matter me as a snowflake.

I do believe in the fundamental right of everyone to express themselves in my plea. Because we were out in nature because it was a nice hot summer's day because the kingfishers were wearing around our heads. Neither of us were in a particularly combative mood, and we ended up having one of those. I think fundamentally opposed to me, kind of, through a prism of tribal politics, actually there's enough around you, or there's or actually what's around you is so neutral in terms of partisan politics, there's no labor signs or there's no you know, big union jacks or that there's nothing to kind of define the right way of thinking in the countryside. So actually, you end up having discussions with people that are much more illuminating, you're able to listen to other people because simply you're able to come across and to meet other people. So I have this kind of, you know, in my most mankind's about considering the possibility of an English rights row. I really do think that there could be an aspect to it that actually goes some way to healing the scars caused by Brexit.

Hmm. Yeah, I think that's a fantastic point there's there's something about where you are in the city that means you're with a kind of self selected group, whether you're at work, you're around people like you, whether you're a bricky, or a lawyer, whereas when you're out in nature. It kind of should be open to everyone and everyone's there so it gives this kind of multiplicity and diversity of views and connection and people so yeah I'm, I'm all on board, if people are listening and they're thinking, this sounds great. I want to get behind this pause, what are some practical steps they can do to help forward that.

Well, number one, we would love you to sign up to our website right to Wk is not just a kind of campaigning website it's where the kind of history of the right to Rome or the kind of history of the philosophy of it is is kind of as lots of writing on it there and lots of videos and things to engage people. But fundamentally, yeah, if you were to give us your email address, then we would basically try to engage you to whatever level that you would want to we'd want you to be part of the steering groups that are talking to farmers and landowners we want you to opt in to the kind of how we solve the litter problem we've got some really good solid ideas that we're working with pre established charities, to actually look into, you know, actually, how can we guarantee to allow a greater right of access from the public will result in a cleaner and more healthy countryside in one way all of this sounds so radical but in another way.

All you've got to do is change the way people approach these things and I think lockdown has proven that with a bit of government messaging behind something you know you are able to change the way people think about stuff. And it's going to be easier because we're not going to be restricting people's freedom to move we're going to be increasing people's freedom to move. We're encouraging people to engage with the natural world, in a way that I think suits people's minds and bodies and so they'll be more inclined to. So we'd really like people to get involved and we want the mountain bikers to represent mountain bike and we want the kayakers and the paddle boarders to remember, or to represent paddle sports. We're also looking out to groups of people that religious people that what to religious people think about the countryside people of color who are massively underrepresented in the demographic of the countryside, what are the other boundaries, it's not just the brick walls and the barbed wire that are preventing people of color from coming to the countryside it's this kind of more fuzzy notion that black kind of means

go into my book about this kind of content roommate had to step down from producing Midsomer Murders because it said we don't want any black people in our program because it just wouldn't be English, and there is a kind of Orthodoxy that the English countryside means white this issue of right to roam and the health properties that it can offer to people and touches so many different sectors of society, and it's our job to make sure that everyone's heard, and that includes landowners you know if there's farmers and landowners that are listening to that, I would urge them to just to sort of pause this kind of kind of Orthodox assumption that were these kind of mad Marxist radicals that are running around the countryside with without a care in the world working factory orders of the countryside and the incredible work that farmers put in, you know to helping these people should be valorized alongside surgeons nurses and doctors that they do such incredible work for women knows and just sort of actually listen to us and maybe not, you know, sort of buy this idea that just kind of either metropolitan city types with a sort of naive, lack of understanding of how the countryside works, or this kind of utopian vision that if we just ask people not to litter.

They won't. That's not true. We've got real bog standard pragmatic pragmatic solutions and suggestions. One of the next steps that we're going to take is to reach out to landowners and we want to hear their perspective because we think that this thing is really going to happen, and for it to happen, and for everyone to be happy with it. We need everyone's voice included in the discussion. Absolutely. I think if change is going to happen then exactly like you say you need to include all the stakeholders and make sure that everybody's on board so Nick, thank you so much for your time. It's been great to delve into these issues and think a bit more about them, their history is fascinating and how we ended up in, in the place that we are now, but I think like you say if everybody gets involved in the conversation, then we can hopefully move forward to a place where we all have great access and all the health benefits that go along with that I think we in the tourism industry have a responsibility to make sure that we're educating people to travel responsibly, and that is certainly, I mean, I am all for the kind of self guided microadventure free trip type stuff I think that's amazing. I would prefer people do that than to not go out at all, but I do think that one of the benefits of going out with a kind of guide or somebody spent a long time in the countryside if you're not familiar with it is that you can learn how to move through the countryside and cause as little damage as possible.

I mean, you certainly don't need it, you can learn all that stuff from books and from on on YouTube and from our free articles as well. Most people who come along and kind of either doing something a little bit sketchy like mountaineering or they just like the idea of going with the group, but upskilling yourself and learning about how to kind of side is definitely something that I think should be on everyone's agenda if you're planning to spend more time in the outdoors which is basically what we're all about hundred percent. Yeah, you're also a fantastic illustrator so if people want to see more of your work you're the kind of personal view, where should they had to yeah I'm a nutcase illustration on Instagram, and something like that on Twitter, there's all my stuff on the rights Rome website as well. I would prefer people go to the writers room website because all of these words, and all of these drawings are fine in an author themselves but really for me and my friends on this campaign is action that really counts, and we really want to change the way it is in this situation in England, and going to our website will definitely be the first step. If you want to feel get kicked you off and get you inspired I think the illustrations are amazing and the book of trespass is really very well written and tied together, and that might pique your interest and then, and then hopefully you'll feel ready to get involved. So, thanks everybody for listening. coming on the show.

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PodCast Host
George Beesley
Adventurer & Founder of Call To Adventure
George just bloody loves a bit of adventure! Imagine someone who not only hikes up mountains for breakfast but also bikes across continents. Got a case of wanderlust? This guy's been to over 50 countries and comes back with stories that'll make your grandma want to go bungee jumping.

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