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The Compleat Trespasser: Journeys Into Forbidden Britain Kindle Edition
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He describes with authentic feeling and some fine writing how much he has enjoyed some scenic walks and would like to do more of them. Being authentic, this desire comes across as the main pillar of his argument. The other pillars come across as less authentic, less substantiated and much flimsier: some shallow historical speculation; the bullying tactics of some landowners and gamekeepers – undeniable, but piecemeal; the author’s exasperation with the softly-softly approach of footpath preservation societies and the CRoW legislation.
The book does make you think about the right to roam, but it would make you think much more deeply if it gave fair consideration to other points of view. Farmers and other landowners don’t necessarily sit on tracts of land just to stop others enjoying it: they use it to produce the country’s food and preserve its landscapes, and how would they know whether the stranger walking through their crops or lurking in their woodland at night was simply enjoying the countryside or out to cause mischief or steal valuable stock or machinery?
The author doesn’t seem to recognise that societies like the Ramblers and other bodies working behind the scenes to promote access may use less dramatic tactics than Rothman and other mass trespassers, but could be said to have achieved a good deal more by quiet negotiation than by confrontation. They recognise that many landowners feel they are guardians of the land, holding it in trust for future generations and concerned to care for it rather than exploit it. Unlike Bainbridge, they understand that it is in the interests of both walkers and landowners to respect each other’s rights and needs.
If the author were to bring out a second edition, he might like to consider editing the structure and layout as well as balancing the content. The rather muddled ‘arrangement’ of chapters and paragraphs, with inconsistently weighted headings, doesn’t make for an easy read or coherent argument. It’s a rambling book, certainly, but not really in the sense intended.
He is also passionate that we rediscover some of the old ways, whether they are ridgeways, farm and parish roads blocked by a rich person's house and lost to anyone else, or the ways of children who simply explored without regard to rules and rulemongerers. Bainbridge is not only a good storyteller, but also an investigative journalist.
Being critical (and why not - it shouldn't put anyone off), I found the editting a little inconsistent (eg style of quotes), and there was too much about the Kinder Scout trespass for me personally, and not enough about trespassing on horseback or cycle.
The ebook finishes with an annotated list of works worth looking at, and useful links, for example to Open Spaces Society (which includes horses and cycles) and Ramblers (which does not).
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