I was wondering - is it actually legal to paddle inland rivers in the North East? The BCU should know, so can you tell me?
I thought I'd keep it short and simple to encourage a response. Last night I got one from Rachel Hudspith, who I have found out is the "PDO NORTH EAST & CUMBRIA" (Paddling Development Officer?) at CE:
Rachel Hudspith wrote:It is your choice. Depends on where you paddle and whether the landowners decide to prosecute or not. The BCU believes that we have a right of access but then the land owners think otherwise.
So it seems it's my choice if it's legal or not! I don't think that's what she actually meant and asked for more clarification (being a bit fastidious in my comment). Her reply stated this:
Rachel Hudspith wrote:The legal situation is publicised on Canoe England website. http://www.canoe-england.org.uk/waterways-and-environment/access-legal-position/ Where there are access arrangements you are paddling legally.
(My emphasis. The answer continued, and can be seen here or via the link at the top of the thread.)
So from the comment "Where there are access arrangements you are paddling legally" does this mean that CE/BCU believe that where access agreements are NOT in place, you are breaking the law by paddling, and (my logic brings me to...) access agreements should be in place before anyone can legally paddle a stretch of water?
Rachel does go on to mention the wonderful work of Caffyn and a need for it to be tested in court. But doesn't say they are willing to test it!