I got told off by the farmer for running on his land

I run all my local pathways and bridleways on a regular basis as I only train off road. Usually farmers who have public footpaths running through their land maintain the path, repair the stiles and put the mower through particularly overgrown bits. There is this farmer whose house is on a gravel road marked 'private' on both ends and he has a big cornfield on the left of his house. The public footpath avoids his land by having a wooden bridge over the ditch between the house and cornfield and a path leading down the edge of the field to the paved road. The thing is, the wooden bridge is now so overgrown with thistles, stinging nettles and brambles it's difficult to pass and the fotpath itself has got thorns, nettles and corn right to the edge. I got in there last Sunday and it took me 10 minutes to get out of the field as it was impossible to carry on. As to totally go round would put 2 miles to my route I decided to brave it and just run through the gravel road marked private and onto themain road. Unfortunately the farmer spotted me, shouted after me and then jumped in his car and caught me just as I was about to turn into a footpath a few hundred yards down the road. He was rather angry and kept shouting that 'it's private property' so I explained about footpath being overgrown and not maintained after he told me the cornfield was his land. I apologised for running through his land but explanied that was trying to avoid damaging his crops as I trampled through a field trying to avoid thorns. I'm not really sure whose responsibility it is to maintain public footpaths which feature on OS maps which run through private land but then this particular pathway is often overgrown. I have not run through there for a while so I planned the Sunday route to see whether it was any better. I obviously will avoid this route until winter when the field will have been ploughed and weeds gone, I always respect crops and people's private property, just not sure where I stand in this particular case.


  • I dont either, but might be worth contacting your county rights of way officer.

  • Land-owners who have public footpaths on their land are required to maintain them, I believe.

    Try the council, or there are websites about this kind of thing.

  • I'd like to know the answer too, there are some shocking footpaths near me.

  • You more than likely stand as a trespasser. You're not allowed in his private land, end of.
  • Let's say you were the farmer. You would know whose responsibility it is to do the local work would you not.

    Many farmers' do not make much money so if it was your responsibility you may just conveniently ignore the work required. However you do not want the general public running through your fields either. Actually some farmers' will not mind if you keep close to the hedges that border the fields.

    I doubt the farmer has the time to 'catch' everybody that takes the route you did but the countryside bridge is there for a very good reason (even if not in constant use) so it should always be kept clear and have any repairs done. Your local council should be able to give you a clear answer and your Citizens Advice Bureau might get it quicker than you can.

  • WIlkie, that was what I thought - and a quick search would seem to support that

  • A couple of blokes from my running club report to someone everytime theyt find a public right of way blocked and usually it is cleared/re-opened within a few weeks, they use our summer training nights to lead us on a fact finding mission all over the paths of south essex checking them for this sort of thing.
  • I do a footpath survey for the Parish council every couple of years. There is a duty on the landowner to keep stiles/footpaths/brdiges in good repair.

    I would report the bridge to the local footpaths officer. Contact the local counmcil or  your Parish councillor .

    'Trespassers wil be prosecuted' is meaningless. You can only be prosecuted for causing damaging, not being there in the first place. It is the same with burgulars in a house if the door is unlocked/open

  • The county council will have a Public Rights of Way (PROW) officer. Contact them and tell them your concerns. They have a right to ensure the right of way is kept clear enough for public to pass.
  • One-eyed undertaker wrote (see)

    I read once that, no person in the UK has ever been prosecuted through the courts for trespassing. Not sure how true it is. Makes you think tho.

    I don't know how true that is ever but been told a few times about the mass trespass's that caused the change in the law that caused there to be a right of way. In the good old days the balliff's just used to beat up the trespass's and kick them off if what I've been told is correct but thats pub talk so should be treated with a pinch of salt. Like above it's the council's resonsibliy to ensure public rights of way and the land owners resposiblity to ensure there land is kept in upkeep I'd phone your council.
  • Just had a quick check to confirm its still the case and its as I thought ... tresspass is actually a civil offence as oppossed to a criminal offence.

    Therefore you cannot be prosecuted for trespass ... the landowner could however sue you if they so desired, however the costs involved in bringing such an action would make that highly unlikely.

    Also, (and this is from a previous life) if someone tells you to 'get off my land' you have every right to challenge them to prove it is either a) their land or b) they are acting as an agent of the landowner, now given this would involve producing land registry documents etc. its again highly unlikely that they would have these on them, giving you ample time to remove yourself from piece of land in question.

  • JohnnyBike - You're slightly wrong on burglary. Burglary is entering a property as a trespasser with intention to commit theft, rape or murder. The property does not need to be locked, the person just needs to entering property they're not entitled legally to enter. Big stores will issue 'trespass orders' to persistent shop-lifters, making their entry into their stores illegal. If the store can then prove the person was in the store, against a trespass order, with intention to steal, the person can be criminally prosecuted for burglary, which carries a heftier sentence than straight theft (shop lifting).
  • Lots of info about rights of way here.
  • AllNew - your sort of right with the Burg 9.1A but they took the rape part out about 4 years ago and it's theft, GBH or crim dam,, Burg sect 9.1b "enters building or part of a building as a trespassers and whilst there comits theft or inflicts GBH".

    But we digress

    Just watch out for the farmers with shotguns

  • Ahh, my criminal legal studies ceased in 1997, it's all been company since then. Have they taken out the 'intention' bit too as well?
  • Nah thats the 9.1a bit, 9.1B needs no intent.
  • We have a footpath that runs down the side of our garden.) Its fenced off so people don't actually walk through the garden!) Until recently every few months the chairperson of the parish council would lean over the gate and tell us it was becoming rather overgrown and pointed out that we had to keep it passable.

    So I would say its the landowners responsibility to keep it clear, but your local council will have someone responsible for rights of way / footpaths who you can speak to as the land owner clearly isn't doing what he should!

    And yes, trespass is a civil offence, and as long as you're not doing any damage there's not a lot they can do. However if you're alone in the middle of nowhere facing a (usually!) red faced pufffed-up landowner I reckon its discretion is the better part of valour  and its way safer to just back off.

    Good luck!

  • We have farmers round here who keep the rights of way well maintained to the extent of clearing them through the middle of the crop ................ and then there are the ones that don't.  I'm not sure how robust councils are at dealing with them in light of all the cuts.
  • It is usually in the best interests of farmers to clear a way through the middle of the crops, otherwise those following maps will probably trample a far wider path through them.
  • glad i have read this because I have been amazed at how well some paths are kept and how badly others are kept////
  • ahh the classic farmer barking out "get off my land".

    Does he also wear a really tatty hat, chew corn shoots, and keep a gun and/or rabid dog, frothing at the bit to be unleashed at anyone?

  • Next time just turn the ipod up play a bit of Hells bells and run like hell to your chosen cut through . I have been acrooss a field this morning round the edge as got a bit lost and luckily I had no angry farmers after me lol

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