Borders landowners don’t threaten walkers

Borders landlords are not among those reported for threatening behaviour
Borders landlords are not among those reported for threatening behaviour

Borders landowners are not among those threatening walkers, say farming leaders and the police.

But elsewhere, recent intimidation has prompted two outdoors bodies to issue guidelines for hikers when faced with aggressive land managers.

Both Ramblers Scotland and the Mountaineering Council of Scotland (MC of S) are urging frightened walkers to report incidents to police. And they suggest the hikers remain calm in the face of landowners’ anger.

MC of S access officer Andrea Partridge, said: “If anyone feels they have been intimidated or threatened while exercising their statutory rights of access, they should report the incident immediately to the police by calling 101. They should make a note of the time and location of the incident, individual’s names if appropriate, and vehicle registration numbers.”

Under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, people have a right of access to most land and inland water in Scotland, so long as they act responsibly as detailed in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

Landowners are bound to respect those rights when managing their land or water and act reasonably when asking people to avoid land management operations. They are also expected to cooperate with their local authority and other bodies to help integrate access and land management.

Andrea added: “By far, the majority of landowners in Scotland welcome access on their land and respect the rights and responsibilities enshrined in the law. However, unfortunately, there are a few who are not so welcoming, hence the advice to report incidents to the police.”

Her comments were backed by Ramblers Scotland policy manager, Helen Todd, who said: “Our rights of public access are world-renowned.

“Many walkers feel passionate about protecting their right to roam, but they should nevertheless remain calm if faced with an aggressive land manager who is trying to prevent them walking on their land.

“Walkers can choose to continue on their route or take account of any reasonable advice on an alternative, but they should report any intimidation to the police in the first instance, and also to the Ramblers or MC of S.”

The two charities advised not all access problems needed police involvement and normal access problems – such as locked gates or fences obstructing access – should be reported to local access officer Neil Mackay at Scottish Borders Council.

When contacted by The Southern, a spokesman for NFU Scotland said: “Unsavoury incidents involving farmers and the public are thankfully rare events, but it is worth reminding all parties of their role in delivering on Scotland’s Outdoor Access Code. We want to encourage those who access the Scottish countryside to do so responsibly, enjoy their time and abide by the code, and farmers must play their part in that. The Outdoor Access guidance has been in place for almost seven years now and its messages are seeping into the thinking of landowners and access-takers.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We are not aware of any walkers being threatened or intimidated by landowners (in the Borders).

“However, our advice would be that anyone who has been the victim of threats or intimidation should contact police immediately.”

The MC of S did not know of any reports of intimidation in the Borders.