An interesting, although fairly loose parallel to the Open Access Caving debate

Tripod

Member
The mass trespass I understand, the impact on the land was not great and it is part of life as it is now. Access to caves is another issue but one which need not impact badly on others. Beyond these there are far to many people who ignore the Law and even the basic Human Rights of others and believe that they can bully their way to achieve what they want. They have an infantile "I want it and so I will have it" attitude. We live on a small overcrowded island and it is simply not possible for everyone to go where they like and to do just as they like regardless of others. People need to talk with one another and listen.
 

Fjell

Member
If you go up Whernside at the moment you will find there is a small mountain of plastic bottles and rubbish near the trig point. I just don’t get the mental model. And remember, these are people who actually managed to get up the hill. We have a problem in this country and I have every sympathy for farmers who don’t want the public to have greater access to farmland until people learn to behave better. In the lakes there were hundreds of people turning up and abandoning tents and crap everywhere (and indeed crapping everywhere, including in reservoirs).

I think worsening behaviour has led the government to halt expansion of access after a lot of pushback. It’s not just young people either, I see plenty of the middle aged doing it. And don’t me started on dogs - we have a nation where the dogs seem brighter than their owners. I watched someone push an Alsatian round Ambleside in a pram the other day, and two women had dogs in baby carriers on their chest in the pub (do they have nappies on?).
 

mrodoc

Active member
It is infuriating and isn't just confined to the UK. You only have to look at some of the accessible lava tubes in Lanzarote. The irony there is that it is probably locals who have caused them to be locked up.
 
I thought wild swimming was all about having a dip in "secret places" and "hidden gems". Getting public approved access seems counter to the ethos of it.

I would have thought that locals having a dip in the reservoir out of obvious times would go almost unnoticed by the owners. Do wild swimmers really want approved access, pathways and crowded carparks and all the panoply of H&S involved?

Keep it quiet and enjoy a secret dip. Why advertise to the masses unless you're also a big fan of numerous waterside picnics and bbqs, fires, noise, litter and dog turds.
 

samh

New member
I thought wild swimming was all about having a dip in "secret places" and "hidden gems". Getting public approved access seems counter to the ethos of it.

I would have thought that locals having a dip in the reservoir out of obvious times would go almost unnoticed by the owners. Do wild swimmers really want approved access, pathways and crowded carparks and all the panoply of H&S involved?

Keep it quiet and enjoy a secret dip. Why advertise to the masses unless you're also a big fan of numerous waterside picnics and bbqs, fires, noise, litter and dog turds.
It's more swimming in unapproved places rather than secret places.

Where I go swimming it's fairly obvious that we're there as lots of people walk past. The locals have been doing the waterside picnics and bbqs for years before we started swimming.

And it's not so much approved access, it's getting rid of the downright misleading signs that get put up - "The water rarely gets above freezing" is my favourite line from the sign banning swimming at my local spot.
 
I got those two terms from a wild swimming website. TBH the Guardian story may be misleading as it mentions wild swimming, perhaps confusing that term with open water swimmers?

I have happily done both, but I am still unsure what this group are trying to achieve by their protest. It seems they have swum there several times before without prosecution. If they approached the site owners they could probably get consent to them turning a blind eye to a sensible group going for a dip at their own risk. Self-regulation, low impact with their own safety gear. This would be similar to cavers/miners getting access to their hobby sites.

However, the group want access for all to the reservoir, including "anglers and dog walkers". They want reservoirs to become inland beaches. As I said before, this means access infrastructure (expense) by the landowner. It also means swimmers will be tiptoeing barefoot through broken glass and turds. I can't see the landowner wanting to pay for this and I am not really sure why the swimmers want this particular outcome either?
 

Tripod

Member
There are (at least) two issues. One is that of some groups who would wish to have the countryside for their own pleasure regardless of the needs and rights of others. The other is that of members of the general public using the countryside as a playground and litter bin. We have problems with private land and even SSSIs being used for barbeques, picnics, using inflatables and generally splashing around. Problems started during lockdown with people wandering where they liked through farm yards and farm land. Dog owners were seen stopping their cars and letting their dogs out - the first sections of some footpaths were left impassable because of dog fouling. Later it was not just the dogs but the owners who left their various kinds of mess. One theory that has been put forward for these lockdown and post lockdown phenomena is that this is how some British people behave on holiday abroad. Instead of fouling and littering Spain they fouled and littered their own country.
 

Badlad

Administrator
Staff member
Wow - what terribly negative views of other people. You seem to be suggesting no one should have a right of access to the countryside because a few people don't know how to behave. The picture you guys paint doesn't relate to the wild and open water swimmers I know nor others who engage with the countryside for other activities.

I imagine most reservoirs are owned by utility companies. These are the same companies who discharge untreated waste (shit) into our rivers by the thousands of tonnes. I also suspect the public used to own these reservoirs until they were sold off to the private sector where they seem to make huge profits for a few, re-invest little and be generally unaccountable for their actions.

Still, let's keep the great unwashed locked up in their inner city tenements shall we and keep the countryside for the gentry who know where to shit.

;):)
 

royfellows

Active member
I have to say that I broadly support the views expressed by Tripod. I also fancy that those who disagree may well start questioning their own views when places that have been freely accessible in the past cease to be that way.


Yes, litter, excrement, abandoned tents, they have the money to buy these but it’s just too much trouble to take them down when finished. People with too much time on their hands, and too much money to spend for them to appreciate the value of it.

We have lost "The Blue lagoon" in north Wales, now blocked off entirely due to all this, and will loose more in time to come.
 

Fjell

Member
Due to unconstrained urban construction (which does not pay for water infrastructure), and global warming, the water system is badly overloaded at times. Population has increased by 10 million in two decades. Something like £150bn has been spent updating the system (about £6k per house), but it is not enough. Probably the same again is required, so it comes down to over what period do want to pay for it in your bills - 5 years? 10 years? The system was in a terrible state when it was privatised after 50+ years of neglect, so unless you are sure future governments will behave better I would suggest leaving things as they are. Personally I am OK with doubling my water bill to more realistic levels, but I suspect many won’t be.

This country has a very serious shortage of engineering and construction skills, so the shopping list of people’s projects needs to be rationalised. Power stations, rebuilding millions of homes, windmills, hospitals, new national grid, water, roads etc etc. The work can’t be liquidated without big increases in wages and cost and huge numbers of highly skilled expats from abroad. I don’t think this country is rich enough to afford it all over such a short timeframe.
 

ChrisJC

Active member
I was intrigued by that report. What it doesn't say is what constitutes 'raw sewage' (don't say it's obvious, as ancient woodland is not what you think it is) and what volume are these releases?

I want to be sure that my outrage is grounded in facts.

Chris.
 

droid

Active member
I have to admire Badlad's optimism that based on the people he knows people he doesn't know aren't as bad as they are painted.
He has the same argument with free access to caves.
Sorry there's a small but persistent minority that DO cause problems and linking ithat to discharge of raw sewage is a red herring.
If he wants to see how the other half lives, look up 'Foremark Reservoir'. It's about 6 miles from my house and is a source of constant trouble. Often of an organic nature.
 

Badlad

Administrator
Staff member
Oh I know some people behave badly, but it's not the majority. I've done a good share of cleaning up wild camping debris for local farmers and plenty of litter picks. I've also cleaned up an awful lot of cavers rubbish from both surface and underground. A lot of it left behind by experienced respected cavers. I've also seen plenty of rubbish and carcasses dumped by farmers. Plus the shit dumped by water companies into our rivers.

I'm still happy to support the swimmers mass trespass and campaign for better access to the outdoors for all, whether that be ramblers, swimmers, cavers, climbers, kayakers, flyers and all. There are many ways to deal with bad behaviour, education is one, but locking the nation out of the countryside isn't an option anymore.
 
So we've established that there is a large issue with litter, and it's not any one group that litters. The comment about locking up the great unwashed in their tenements seems moot now that it's all classes and types that litter. Neither is education an issue. The two recent occasions I have witnessed dog walkers not clean up after their dogs business on paths was laziness not lack of education - too proud to pick up poo.

Again, my issue with this campaign is that it's poorly thought out. I would understand if they wanted to get open swimming permitted where it is safe in reservoirs. Organise a group and demonstrate some ability to mark safe areas to enter and to swim. Take personal responsibility for toilet arrangements and don't leave litter.

Pretending that the masses can descend freely on reservoirs without restrictions is asking for trouble. Who decides which group does what where? Swimmers and kayaks can regularly come into conflict with anglers, by example.

That's even assuming reservoirs are safe! Drowning and cold water shock are real issues. Steep banks, deep water and other hazards can catch out those unaware. Even on here we have conflict between those who want education and those who object to educational signage.
 

topcat

Member
In Scotland reservoirs are specifically mentioned in the Land Reform Act, in the context that swimming and paddle sports are permitted. Along with rivers.

When you are north of the border it is assumed you can do your own risk assessment..........which of course folk can.
 
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