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Inland paddling
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Debaser
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Post by Debaser »

This is the bit I am most unhappy about. Where is the evidence that "most inland waters" are privately owned?
The BCU should not be stating this unproven nonsense, against the interests of its own members, and the DNP should not be giving it credence by repeating it.
I think this may be the Achilles heel in the whole access debate...
Unfortunately, there's none so blind as those that will not see. There's a world of difference between owning certain rights to (do) something and owning that thing outright, but try explaining that to some of these institutions.
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Chris W
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Post by Chris W »

'Jadedkayaker', did you actually read my post? Most non tidal inland waterways DO flow through privately owned land, riparian or otherwise- fact. Whilst owners may not 'own' the water itself, the currently established position is that they can control navigation. The Rev Caffyn claims that this is incorrect, but until his views are tested in the Courts, the position will remain unclear.

Good luck!

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Pete the kayaker
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Post by Pete the kayaker »

Chris W wrote:- Most non tidal waterways clearly DO pass through privately owned land.
Chris, what is your assertation here based on?

Is this what you've been told, or have you seen evidence to support this?

The reason I ask is this; The rivers that are big enough to be frequently paddled are generally referred to as main waterways in land descriptions. In the limited (≈20) amount of deeds that I've seen, main waterways are not included in the deeds to a property i.e. the boundary description in the deeds usually describes the riverbank as the limit of the property. These documents were carefully and precisely written, so it is evident that the rivers where not seen as held by anbody in these deeds.

I have never seen any deeds that include a main waterway (Despite having asked on many occasions).

Undoubtedly there are riparian rights for adjacent land-owners, but these do not include the right to bar passage down a river. Some landowners may claim that they do have this right, but it's not documented and as far as I know, its has not been tested in an English court.
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Post by SPG »

I am sure, that IF landowners on the sides of rivers had a right to impact passageway along the river, then at some point in history, users of rivers would have been carged tolls or taxes for passage. (for freight as an example )

If i had a legal right to charge for passage across my land (albeit underwater) then at some point in time, would that not have been accepted as common practice, or at least defined in legal terms one way or another
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Post by jadedkayaker »

Pete the kayaker wrote:[
Undoubtedly there are riparian rights for adjacent land-owners, but these do not include the right to bar passage down a river. Some landowners may claim that they do have this right, but it's not documented and as far as I know, its has not been tested in an English court.
This is precisely my point. The land may be private, but the water isn't, so let's stop pretending that someone can give "permission" to paddle on it. It's nonsense, born out of deference to the landowning gentry.

Personally I don't expect to be sued by anyone. All that I will come across when paddling when and where I like are ill-informed members of the public, e.g posh totty on horseback, the ice cream man, the officiious Dartmoor ranger and maybe the occasional irritated angler, (not that I have seen any anglers at all this summer), frustrated at being powerless to stop us enjoying the river (a few credible police reports will soon put paid to them and their criminal behaviour). In other words, no-one with any authority whatsoever.
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Post by Big Henry »

Pete the kayaker wrote:
Chris W wrote:- Most non tidal waterways clearly DO pass through privately owned land.
Chris, what is your assertation here based on?
He does say it passes THROUGH, not OVER, so the question of who, if anyone, owns the river bed, as opposed to river bank, is not mentioned as I read it.
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Post by RichA »

I'm not sure, but I think Pete is saying that rivers, according to the deeds he's seen, pass NEXT to land that is privately owned, not through/over etc. They way I read it was that the land boundary is the river bank, and the boundary of the land over the other side of the river is the other bank. Leaving the river in the middle of no-mans land.
So my interpretation of Pete's post is that rivers do not pass through private land, but adjacent to it. Or have I completely misread that!?
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Post by morsey »

There is some utter tosh in that reply that Mark received. The EA consider that the Upper reaches of the Dart are incompatible with kayaking even in spate! Utter utter tripe. Would I want to be taken to court by the EA for paddling? No not really. Would I consider my chances very good if I got taken to court for paddling a river in spate? Absolutely. I would feel confident of arguing my case with a reasonable flow, let alone in spate.

DNP admit that they will tell you off! Equals NO AUTHORITY. Ignore them and carry on paddling.
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Post by Jack Butcher »

When you are approached by local fisherman at Dartmeet carpark, who when seeing face say crossly " it's you again!!! " , to which you reply yes it is, you feel sure progress is being made ;-)
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Post by Paul Stewart »

Debaser wrote: The quote below is from an email sent to me by someone in 'Navigation Policy and Process' at the EA. What references I managed to find to these cases on t'internet suggested that somewhere along the line there's been a complete misinterpretation of what the judgements meant. For those who understandably can't be bothered to look them up, the first three cases actually refer to anglers fishing without licences or permission. As far as I'm aware the only case you really need to be wary of is the last, the Yorkshire Derwent Trust. That's your minefield.

Some EA apparatchik wrote;
The Environment Agency does not have an opinion on this matter. We are guided by the courts and what they have determined. Specific case law includes Hargreaves v Diddam (1875), Murphy v Ryan (1868), Rawson v Peters (1972), and the Yorkshire Derwent Trust case (sorry I've not been provided the legal regerence for that case).
The two cases I'm aware of that the EA refer to are "Bradford Waltonians Angling Club vs Peters (1972) and the Water Heritage case study to restore navigational rights to locks on the Derwent.

In 1972 the Angling Club were succesful against Peters (a canoeist) in bringing a case of trespass on the River Wharfe. Although there were no anglers present at the time, Peters was paddling with permission from only one riparian owner. As Peters had strayed to the other side of the river he was not exercising a public right of navigation. A water baliff had seen Peters canoeing and duly reported him. It was alleged that Peters had NOT actually disturbed any anglers but had disrupted any angling that would be likley to take place later in the day. Lord Denning said:

"Where the public have a right of use, the owners of fishing rights must allow the canoes and boats unrestricted passage.....But, unless a person with a canoe has some such right he must not interfere with the fishing rights."

This I believe was the premise for the case but wether this precedent would hold any current worth is debatable given the EA report into canoeing and fishing disturbance.

The Yorkshire Derwent Trust case study refers to a group that was set up to prove a navigational right using existing laws - Water Heritage. A group of enthusiasts began to repair some locks on the Derwent with the intent of reopening the navigation. The river had previously carried freight up until the second world war. They tried to prove the navigation existed using the Rights of way Act 1932. The Act stated that if 20 years uninterrupted passage over land or water could be proven then a right of way could be established. Water Heritage were supported by many organisations including the BCU, Scouts, Guides & other youth and water recreational governing bodies.

A court action in 1988 against Water Heritage judged that the Act could not apply to water. The action was brought about by riparian owners, Wildlife Trust, anglers and conservationists.

In 1990 at a Court of Appeal the decison was reversed in favour of the boaters. The consortium side, now consisting of the WWF, CLA, RSNC & RSPB raised funds to have the case heard in the House of Lords. In Dec 1991 five Law Lords overturned the RoW Act ruling and declared that the Act could not apply to water as well as land. This decison prevented others from proving that a quarter of English and Welsh Rivers are navigations under the Act.
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Post by Pete the kayaker »

Paul Stewart wrote:In 1972 the Angling Club were succesful against Peters (a canoeist) in bringing a case of trespass on the River Wharfe.
Are you certain this was for trespass? I was (maybe mistakenly) under the impression that this case was decided for the angling fratenitity on the grounds that he had damaged the property. This would be refutable now with recent studies on the impact of canoeing on fish.
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Post by Bod »

Pete

RawsonVPeters has been covered on here before:

http://www.ukriversguidebook.co.uk/foru ... on++peters

Damages were 50p. I guess that would be £3 in today's money?
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Post by morsey »

As Bod says that case has popped up a few times. If it was a reasonably secure case it would have been referred to many times in subsequent cases. It is not secure and it has not had follow up cases because the Anglers and Fisheries know full well that it will not stand up in current law. Basically Denning was off his rocker.
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Post by Paul Stewart »

Pete the kayaker wrote:
Paul Stewart wrote:In 1972 the Angling Club were succesful against Peters (a canoeist) in bringing a case of trespass on the River Wharfe.
Are you certain this was for trespass? I was (maybe mistakenly) under the impression that this case was decided for the angling fratenitity on the grounds that he had damaged the property. This would be refutable now with recent studies on the impact of canoeing on fish.
I lifted this from my dissertation on the subject of Access some 16 years ago! The reference I have for this was a chapter written by Fred Coalter titled Access Mechanisms and Management, it's in a book by Sidaway R et al "Access to the countryside for recreation and sport" published by the Sports Council and Countryside Commission in 1986 approx page 97.

If Coalter referred to the case as trespass then I've no reason to doubt what I wrote? Perhaps someone at Uni still may be able to search the microfiche, look up the book and check? My understanding was that the case was won on the grounds that he had caused disturbance, not physical damage.

I don't believe that the precedent of this court case holds any weight anymore given the EA findings re disturbance.
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Post by Chris W »

Pete,

What was my 'assertion' concerning riparian ownership based on? The usual- wot the Rev Caffyn said. He didn't bother questioning the validity of riparian ownership, focusing instead on the right of navigation. According to him, Hale (Lord Chief Justice 1671-1676) wrote in a treatise (published in 1787) that:

'the owners of the one side have, of common right, the property of the soil and consequently the fishing rights usque filum aqua (meaning 'to the centre of the water).

This was confirmed by Bowen LJ in Blount vs Layard (1891), apparently. So, again, we have a dodgy treatise to blame.

Looking at it practically, if all ownership did stop at riverbanks, who would own all non tidal river beds? Presumably the Crown, as per tidal waters, delegating management to the EA. So, they'd have to take on public owners liability and the cost of maintenance. Presumably statute would be then be required to give them access across all adjoining private land at all times to maintain the waterways.

Hm.....do you think that's likely to happen?

You'd also have to prove that the boundaries of every Title along a given section of river really did stop at the riverbanks, having regard to all the available evidence including old Title deeds, Land Registry docs, what has been happening on the ground (usage and maintenance) etc etc. Every landowner would challenge you and instruct their solicitors.

Couple of comments on cases mentioned above.

A key aspect of the Rawson vs Peters case is that the plaintiff only owned sporting rights- the angling club was not a freeholder or leaseholder of the river bed itself. Hence the need to prove substantial interference with their use of the river. If your dispute was with such a party today, you might win, which is why I was keen to establish exactly what JJ's status is.

The 1991 Lords decision was critical and pretty questionable. They decided that the prescriptive rights conferred by the 1932 Rights of Way Act could not apply to navigation of non tidal waterways, despite the fact that the Act states that land can include 'land covered with water', because they felt that whilst the word 'highway' might refer to a river, the word 'way' could not. It was that close! Has it gone the other way, we could have claimed prescriptive rights to a huge number of rivers (based on 20 years of proven use, I believe).

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Post by Adrian Cooper »

Chris W wrote: if all ownership did stop at riverbanks, who would own all non tidal river beds? Presumably the Crown, as per tidal waters, delegating management to the EA. So, they'd have to take on public owners liability and the cost of maintenance.
The Crown does not, generally, have any obligation to manage, maintain or is otherwise responsible for land it owns. It does not have the same obligations under the Occupiers' Liability Act as does Joe Public. Inded, there was recent case of some toxic or otherwise contaminated material on some crown land and the Crown Estate Commisioners declined to have anything to do with it. Despite it being a public hazard neither they nor the local authority were under any obligation to deal with it.
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Post by Mark R »

Good news - spate day today, great blast down the beautiful West Dart River!

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Bad news - the offensive signs are still there, and worse - Dartmoor National Park wardens were out specifically hunting for paddlers on the River Dart tributaries, in blatant cahoots with landowners and anglers.

A landowner at Hexworthy was rather nasty and said he hoped we'd drown, whilst an angler we met later offered the usual opinions and then pleasantly swapped Dart stories with us.
Dartmoor National Park Head of Recreation wrote:With regard to Q2, if you were paddling or accessing/egressing the river where there is not an agreement officers of the Authority would simply infom you of the position and ask that you do not canoe.
Hopping off at Dartmeet, we were met by a warden who told us a somewhat different story. He was polite and very civil, but absolutely unequivocal about the following points;

- The Dartmoor NP believes it has the authority and mandate to decide which rivers are navigated, and which are not.

- The current policy is to log number plates (although oddly, he wouldn't take my eagerly offered name or phone number) and warn paddlers not to return.

- The next step will be to prosecute via CRoW - they believe paddlers can be prosecuted for 'exceeding your CRoW rights'; I suspect and indeed stated that this was laughable.

- The purpose of this policy is to restore things to how they used to be on Dartmoor; "With everyone back on the Loop, of course some of you on the upper". We can then of course seek access agreements.

I suggested that the solution to increasing numbers etc. was paddlers becoming better educated and informed about the huge potential of the area's natural paddling resources, environment, appropriate water levels etc. His was basically the opposite - that we should return to the Loop; literally stuffing the genie back in the bottle.

I also suggested that policing rivers was simply not his job, his jurisdiction or his purpose. He diagreed, citing the role of the NP in conserving resources and managing visitors, and also citing his claimed legal powers to prosecute due to CRoW.
Dartmoor National Park Head of Recreation wrote:4. Please be assured that we are not biased towards one group of users over another.
The warden was later to be seen at Newbridge laughing and chatting with the angler who'd approached and photographed us earlier on. When I approached with camera, intending to ask if it was okay to take a picture myself, they shot indoors like a bolt.

-------------

We absolutely must resist and contest this disturbing and outrageous new direction by the Dartmoor National Park. If we allow this, will Snowdonia/Peak/Lakes etc. follow suit? And then perhaps the National Trust and English Heritage?


Adam Box - I'm sure you are reading this, as I know that you try to keep track of what is happening. What is the opinion of the BCU SW Access team, please?


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Post by buck197 »

I still don't understand the signs which "say a quiet haven for wildlife" and yet fishermen hook fish and drag them out of their environment and then club them to death. Additionally they wade into the river (not today) and wander the banks disturbing wildlife whereas we get on and off usually at a point where the public are present and wildlife will avoid mostly.

I would love to meet one of these people that wish we would drown and have some veerbal interaction with them. I didn't see the warden today but was much lower down the river trying to stay upright in the huge flows.

It seems the National Park warden see themselves as Police men of the park.
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Post by Mark R »

buck197 wrote:I still don't understand the signs which "say a quiet haven for wildlife".
I find it particularly galling that this is used as a reason to imply that paddling is inappropriate on the tributary rivers of the Dart. Aside from the fact that we simply don't disturb the wildlife (especially enjoyed watching a river-dwelling cormorant feeding in the rain mist today), that description could be applied to pretty well everywhere I've paddled in the past decade.
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Post by jadedkayaker »

Mark R wrote: - The Dartmoor NP believes it has the authority and mandate to decide which rivers are navigated, and which are not.

- The current policy is to log number plates (although oddly, he wouldn't take my eagerly offered name or phone number) and warn paddlers not to return.

- The next step will be to prosecute via CRoW - they believe paddlers can be prosecuted for 'exceeding your CRoW rights'; I suspect and indeed stated that this was laughable.

- The purpose of this policy is to restore things to how they used to be on Dartmoor; "With everyone back on the Loop, of course some of you on the upper". We can then of course seek access agreements.
Clearly contrary to what we were told by Ally Kohler - you ought to send these points to her for comment, although from the sound of it he was talking complete b*ll*cks.
It sounds like this ranger is the one I have been warned about by a friend who works in the info caravan - he apparently makes it his business to "police" the so-called agreement.
DNPA ia a publicly funded and accountable body and therefore has to respond to legitimate complaints by members of the public. Follow the complaints process and then take any unsatisfactory response up the line to the Ombudsman. This may be a way for you (or any of us) as an individual to force DNP into acting fairly. Losing them as an ally could well be a blow to the fish bothering netwok.
One of us should get on the Dartmoor Access Forum and put forward a point of view untainted by BCU propaganda.
And that ranger neeeds putting back in his box by his employers - he wouldn't want to lose his cushy stress free job and shiny green Land Rover now, would he?
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Post by Mark R »

jadedkayaker wrote:Clearly contrary to what we were told by Ally Kohler - you ought to send these points to her for comment, although from the sound of it he was talking complete b*ll*cks.
Letter already written.

The guy wasn't unpleasant (beyond the basic offensiveness of what he was seeking to do), and certainly gave the confident impression that he was acting out NP policy.
jadedkayaker wrote:And that ranger neeeds putting back in his box by his employers - he wouldn't want to lose his cushy stress free job and shiny green Land Rover now, would he?
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Post by Pam Bell »

Dartmoor Access Forum was recruiting volunteers recently:

http://www.dartmoor-npa.gov.uk/au_dafpr0908

Worth checking if the vacancies are still open...

Paddling is not among the 'particularly welcome' areas of interest and experience!
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Post by Mark R »

Pam Bell wrote:Dartmoor Access Forum was recruiting volunteers recently:

http://www.dartmoor-npa.gov.uk/au_dafpr0908

Worth checking if the vacancies are still open...

Paddling is not among the 'particularly welcome' areas of interest and experience!
Really interesting, and a positive step.

However I live two hours from Dartmoor, and meetings are held on weekday evenings.

Any takers? Morsey?
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Jack Butcher
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Post by Jack Butcher »

Did the ranger have a beard? got a temper on him that one. As a regular out of season paddler on the Dart I have lost all interest in access agreements and improving the current situation. People can rant and rage all they want about not wanting paddlers on rivers, the bottom line is we are not breaking the law. If we were the police would have to enforce it and caution or arrest paddlers for paddling outside the agreed season or stretch of river. This is not the case at present, so I am happy to ignore any anti-paddling talk whomever it comes from.

Behaviour wise:
I have been approched in a very agressive manner by both residents, fisherman and National Park Rangers.
Followed from Newbridge to Dartmeet by a fisherman who wanted to kick off, and then settled for swearing at us instead.
Had my car written on.
Had my picture taken and registration noted on many occasions.
Threatened with the crushing of my car if I continued to paddle out of season.
Been shouted at on the river.
Been deliberately blocked into car parking spaces.
Had an attempt to block the road in front of me at poundsgate.

Shocking behaviour when you think about it. I go about my paddling activities in a quiet and respectfull manner. If I acted in a way as listed above can you imagine the uproar that would ensue. It is time that people mind their own bussiness. national park rangers would be better picking up rubbish on the moor than hassling paddlers a point I have made in the past which did not go down well ;-)
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Post by Mark R »

Jack Butcher wrote:Pretty shocking behaviour really when you think about it.



Why stand for it? Complain.

akohler@dartmoor-npa.gov.uk (Alison Kohler, Head of Recreation).



Yes, bearded chappie. Was not rude or unpleasant to us. But not stupid either. He hid in that Newbridge hut watching me through the little window until he could clearly see that I'd put the camera away, and then nipped into his Landrover and headed off quickly.
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Post by John Saunders »

Mark R wrote:Hopping off at Dartmeet, we were met by a warden who told us a somewhat different story. He was polite and very civil, but absolutely unequivocal about the following points;

- The Dartmoor NP believes it has the authority and mandate to decide which rivers are navigated, and which are not.
That’s what happens when organizations forget who they were created to serve (note Quicky’s separate thread on the creation of the National Parks), and who they are ultimately paid by; easily done when it’s just Joe Public and you share your mates’ opinions and interests.

It’s a slippery slope…

“We are the Environment Agency. It's our job to look after your environment and make it a better place - for you, and for future generations.” Source: http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/

“We are one of the major navigation authorities in charge of inland rivers, estuaries and harbours in England and Wales. Our aim is to manage the healthy growth of our waterways for leisure, business, local communities and wildlife. Source: http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/su ... n/?lang=_e

“The Agency owns some 7 km of river of the River Tryweryn and 4.6 acres of land around it…” Source: http://environment-agency.wales.gov.uk/ ... =1&lang=_e

Maybe the greatest threat to the DNP’s signs is that such an apparently undesirable bunch of characters enjoy taking pictures next to them - you could have smiled Mark! :-P

Edit: Hadn't read Jack Butcher's last post when I wrote this. Disgusting behaviour from the small minded (get the police in) in the face of simple reason and good manners. Keep it up Jack!
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Post by jmmoxon »

Some further reading:

Dartmoor Commons Act, 1985

The full Act can be viewed on-line.

The Act contains two main parts dealing with the regulation of grazing rights and the control of public access.

1. The Dartmoor Commoners' Council was set up for the maintenance of, and the promotion of proper standards of, livestock husbandry on the commons in and about the Dartmoor National Park.

2. The second part of the Act established a legal right of access on foot and on horseback to the commons for the purpose of open air recreation. The National Park Authority may prohibit or regulate access for the protection of ancient monuments or areas of scientific interest as well as for restoration and for the protection of trees. It can make byelaws and appoint wardens for the control of this access. Control is also given over the activities of commercial riding stables where this is necessary to prevent damage to the commons.

The Act combines livestock grazing and recreation interests. The legislative framework maintains the values of both, and it conserves the landscape of the National Park for the future. It may be seen as a forerunner of national common land legislation and is essentially a large scale management and access agreement between the commoners and the National Park Authority.

Open access

The public has legal open access to about 47,400 hectares of Dartmoor. Of this total, public access on foot (and horseback) to the Dartmoor commons, was secured under the Dartmoor Commons Act 1985. 5,200 hectares is access on foot made by agreement between the National Park Authority and a number of landowners/ occupiers. New walking rights on Dartmoor specifically arising from the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CRoW Act), as from 28 August 2005, extend to approximately 7,000 hectares.

Summary of Dartmoor Commons Byelaws

These Byelaws apply to the Dartmoor Commons and other access land within the National Park.

In summary they make it an offence to :-

(i) drive, park or repair vehicles or trailers on the commons, or ride bicyles on the commons where there is no right of way for them
(ii) camp within 100 metres of any road or in other prohibited places
(iii) obstruct leats or watercourses
(iv) light fires
(v) allow dogs to run uncontrolled
(vi) feed animals grazing on the commons
(vii) train or school horses so as to cause damage
(viii) disturb wildlife
(ix) discharge firearms
(x) throw or hit missiles (including golf balls) so as to cause annoyance to others
(xi) damage fences, walls or property or remove soil, peat, dung or stones
(xii) use metal detectors
(xiii) engage in commercial activities except with the agreement of the Dartmoor National Park Authority and the landowner
(xiv) fly model aircraft or kites so as to cause annoyance to others
(xv) hold concerts or exhibitions without permission of the Dartmoor National Park Authority and the landowner
(xvi) play musical instruments or radios so as to cause annoyance to others.

The Byelaws are enforced by National Park Rangers, with penalties of up to £100 per conviction.

This is only a summary of the Dartmoor Commons Byelaws. Copies of the Byelaws are available from Dartmoor National Park Information Centres or Headquarters; or view the Byelaws on-line: http://www.dartmoor-npa.gov.uk/index/ab ... yelaws.htm
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Post by jmmoxon »

especially enjoyed watching a river-dwelling cormorant
The fishermen don't like them much either ( have heard them refered to as the fishing luftwaffe...)

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Post by Dom c »

After running the East Oakment yesterday , we ran into a Ranger at the get out who stopped and had a chat with us..
Yes, he did obviously state there was no agreement on the river and that canoeist were causing the Land owners all over dartmoor to give the National Parks a lot of hassle. However he was very polite, happy to listen and discuss and a thoroughly pleasant chap wishing us a happy days paddling..
He also eluded that the BCU hasn't really tried to arrange access agreements and a lot of the landowners on dartmoor would be more than happy to agree if approached.
He seemed very aware of canoeists approach to open, sensible access and rather than berate us for this, he accepted that this was happening and merely urged us caution and discretion.
Another point he mentioned, and I have no idea if this is correct, was that access via foot path, public land, was a dodgy area as a kayak is not a natural accompliment to walking and is therefore prohibited from footpaths, the same as bicycles.

Anyway as I said, he seemed a very nice chap, happy to listen to all sides and therefore we went on our way to the next river..
Dom
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quicky
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Joined: Wed Sep 14, 2005 4:08 pm
Location: Wirral,

Post by quicky »

Behaviour wise:
I have been approched in a very agressive manner by both residents, fisherman and National Park Rangers.
Followed from Newbridge to Dartmeet by a fisherman who wanted to kick off, and then settled for swearing at us instead.
Had my car written on.
Had my picture taken and registration noted on many occasions.
Threatened with the crushing of my car if I continued to paddle out of season.
Been shouted at on the river.
Been deliberately blocked into car parking spaces.
Had an attempt to block the road in front of me at poundsgate.
The omnly other thing is to report aggressive behaviour to the Police and say you were scared for your safety and the safety of your party.....
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