Good evening. How has your week been? Have you been a busy bee, productive at work at home? Maybe you’ve completed a DIY project, or started a new one. Perhaps you’ve cooked your best meal for weeks, or baked a spectacular cake. I know, you’ve finished that book that’s been sat with three chapters left to go for weeks, or you’ve cleared out all the kitchen cupboards and got rid of all the ancient packets and tins you forgot were at the back. No? None of these things? Me neither.
The Rules Changed Again
The big news this week is that last Sunday evening, our Prime Minister announced that there would be some relaxing of the lock down rules in England, which kicked in on Wednesday. The changes are subtle, and while I understand that any reversal in lock down, however small, fills many people with worry and even anger, I admit that I am pleased about this one. In short, we can now get outside as much as we like, and for a lot more reasons than before. We still can’t meet in groups or visit our families, but at least we aren’t limited to one walk around the block each day. You can now get your One Hour Outside just sitting on a pack bench watching the world go by if you so choose, you are allowed to drive an unnamed distance (within England) to a hill and hike up it, you can even meet a friend for a walk (respecting social distancing) if you wish.
There has been a lot of negativity online around these changes, and I can see why some people aren’t happy. National Parks have requested that people don’t visit because while the countryside itself is open, facilities including public toilets and cafes are not, which can leave some people surprised (and uncomfortable). Small rural communities are worried that if they are visited by hundreds of people on a Saturday in the name of getting outside, the virus will spread further and risk the lives of those who live there. One friend commented that a motorcyclist peed against the wall of her (open) shop earlier this week, which clearly not okay. People like that give all bikers a bad name – why would you do that?! These seem like sensible concerns.
We are told that the virus does not spread or last well out of doors, which means we are relatively safe outside, as long as we are sensible. Group activities are still forbidden, and we are asked to keep ourselves away from others, but thankfully our countryside areas are large (even if the car parks are not). Lots of people are simply very confused, which given the speech last Sunday evening isn’t a surprise! I’ve seen tweets from Police Forces claiming that you aren’t allowed to go for a drive unless it’s for exercise, which just isn’t the case anymore (you can now drive somewhere for a picnic, for example), and I wonder that if the Police don’t understand the restrictions, how are the rest of us supposed to? Confusion is one thing, but nastiness is something else entirely, and there has been a lot of that, too. Being unkind really isn’t cool.
And yes, I took advantage of the relaxation myself and drove a short distance to explore a new-to-me hill yesterday, and had an absolutely lovely walk with some amazing views back home and over the border into Wales (used as this week’s header image). I could have walked the same route again from my own front door, but I felt like a change of scenery would be good for me, and I’m very glad I went. I was in the car for less than half an hour, didn’t head to a beach or National Park, didn’t need the toilet or to buy anything while I was out, but still wondered (and wonder even now) how much I might be judged, even though I didn’t do anything wrong. There were a few people doing the same thing as me, but the car park I used was nearly empty (I was one of just three cars out of about 30 spaces) and there was plenty of space for everyone on the hill – it was easy to keep two metres apart from everyone else. I’m not going to be driving for walks every day, of course, but I will continue to take the occasional excursion for something new.
I wrote a blog post earlier in the week interpreting the updated restrictions, so I shan’t say any more about it here, except to repeat my note that if we do choose to spend lots more time outside, and if we are going to take the permitted opportunity to drive around more to help us do that, then we absolutely must do so with love for other people and the environment. That is surely the key. Love for and kindness towards others, during these strange times of pandemic and always.
Finding Unmarked Public Rights of Way
Do you walk along a path regularly, or have you discovered new-to-you footpaths during lock down, that you’ve noticed aren’t marked on the Ordnance Survey Map? One of the ideas I included in my post about lock down activities (read it here if you haven’t already) was about just this.
In short, the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 included a deadline of January 2026 for any footpaths and bridleways not currently recorded on the definitive map to be added, or lost. This means that any historic routes will officially disappear from that date and cannot longer be added to the definitive map, which means housing developers, farmers and other landowners can get rid of well used trails without having to reinstate them.
I’ve been taking the advice of Charlotte, also known as Public Rights of Way Explorer, this week and have been noting down the couple of routes I’ve been walking regularly so I can check that they are recorded as a right of way. One of them includes that rickety old footbridge I discovered a couple of weeks ago, that I’ve been crossing regularly since to get my daily dose of countryside from my own front door. Neither route is marked on my local Ordnance Survey Explorer Map, which means I need to check against the Local Highway Authorities definitive map, although that step is currently not possible thanks to virus restrictions (as far as I can tell, ours is not available online, typical). Hopefully I’ll discover the paths, which I’ve taken screenshots of using OS Maps to remind me of the exact location, are in fact included on the Definitive Map and I can just let OS know they need adding, but if they’re not I’ll be sending in a report for sure.
In the Mail
We finally finished our home-office “renovation” this week thanks to the delivery of our wall hanger for our Scratch Map. We painted the walls, laid new flooring and bought a new desk much earlier in the year, but until now haven’t had any art on the walls as we’d been trying to find the perfect way to hang our Scratch Map while still being able to get at it to scratch off countries. I ended up googling “hanging scratch map” to see if there were any ideas from others who don’t just bluetack theirs to the wall (which is what we’ve done up until now), and discovered that the company that make the map also make a very nice looking magnetic hanger for it.
This is what I bought (pictured below), and I have to say I am so happy with it. It’s not just a poster frame without the glass in, which is what I thought we’d end up with, but a couple of matt black magnetic strips of wood which hold the top and bottom of the map in place. The reviews on Amazon suggested that it might be too heavy for itself and the bottom would slide off, but we haven’t had any issues like that, it seems very secure and looks the part. Happy with that purchase!
So go on then, how has your week been? What have you been up to? Have you been getting One Hour Outside every day? Did you finish a book you are desperate to tell everyone about? Or maybe you have sat around drinking tea changing from nighttime pyjamas into daytime pyjamas… Let me know in the comments below.
PS: Just 6 miles left to go on my Virtual Coast to Coast hike… so very nearly there!
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