I must confess that I often find myself feeling like a stranger in a strange land, and never more so that when confronted by the curious institution of “rambling”. As far as I can tell, this consists primarily of groups of well-equipped “townies”, who apparently feel it’s their “right” to wander across farmers’ crops on their way to some distant horizon.
As a man who is heavily predisposed to indolence and torpor, I find the idea of wandering across muddy ground fighting off midges and stinging nettles a curious concept for a pleasurable pastime. I’m a huge fan of the countryside, but I believe it is best enjoyed from the air-conditioned comfort of orthopaedically-designed seats, perhaps with some Mozart adding aural colour to the experience. However, to each his own, live and let live and all that.
But I can’t really fathom the central aspect of the ramblers’ creed — the idea that you are allowed to go wherever you want. I am naturally very careful about other people’s property, whether goods or land and I wouldn’t dream of trolling across some farmer’s cabbages unless I was in a really precarious situation. The concept of marching across someone’s pastures or fields with my head held high, “because it’s my right, innit?” is completely alien to me.
I have heard all sorts of (what are, to me, anyway) spurious justifications involving the Enclosure and ideas that seem to be grounded in nothing but ludicrous envy to me. I don’t generally see farmers traipsing through “towny” gardens of a weekend, nor do farmers appear to have any particular interest in trolling across their lands for “fun”. It seems a somewhat one-sided deal to me.
So I’d be pleased to hear a sensible justification for the idea that someone who has paid for exclusive use of a piece of land is not allowed exclusive use of that land.