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Right to Roam Campaign

Langholm Map

Right to Roam Campaign

We were delighted to host the Right to Roam Campaign on the reserve last weekend following a historic mass trespass on the English Scottish Border at Scots Dyke. The group are campaigning for the same public Right to Roam laws in England that Scotland has enjoyed for 20 years. The people involved were aiming to draw attention to the very contrasting public access laws in Scotland and England either side of the border.

There is no ‘right to roam’ in the English countryside unlike in Scotland where the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 has enshrined in law a right to responsible access, with the Scottish Outdoor Access Code setting out the rights and responsibilities that people have here. This means that over 92% of the land in England is off limits for public access. The English ‘Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000’ provides very limited access rights for people in England and Wales and there are significant differences between access rights in different parts of those countries.

The historic event included both Scottish and English walkers, waving flags with thistle and oak emblems, holding what was called a ‘symbolic trespass’ through English farmland into the woods and to Scots Dyke, which marks the Scottish border to the south of Canonbie. Old Gaelic word was spoken and sung to mark the moment that the English Right to Roam draft Bill was handed from Scotland to England, into the hands of a young person, to be presented to Westminster. Several well-known figures were involved in the event, including Andy Wightman, the land reform expert and former Scottish Greens MSP; author Guy Shrubsole, and Dave Morris, who was formerly the Chief Executive of Ramblers Scotland. After the mass trespass, attendees held a celebration event in the garden of Broomholmshiels on the Tarras Valley Nature Reserve, where the Langholm Initiative had provided space for the organisers to erect a marquee. The group enjoyed speeches, food and music, and, despite the poor forecast, the sun even made an appearance in the afternoon!

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