My apologies to those who were trying to contact me 2 days ago when on the small summit of GW/NW-074 Craig y Castell 321m just outside Dolgellau and in the shadow of Cadair Idris. It is the highest of the rock crags on access land (coloured yellow on the local maps) which is rough and mostly bracken and bits of bog with stone walls surrounding the area, This was our 3rd visit but this time we parked at the Llyn Gwernant car park (and toilets), which is also the start of the ‘pony path’ up Cadair. We walked with friends along to the lake (the boardwalk on the SW end is broken so don’t come in that way!) and along to where our path rose up throught the woods (don’t try the footpath round the top of the lake as that is ‘closed’!) and through a gate onto the open moorland which is access land (ie open to all walkers). There we joined our previous routes and walked west through a couple of gates and then up beside the wall and to the top.
We had a non-radio friend, Rosemary, with us, and after lunch Rod M0JLA started to walk down while I was still activating and we were joining him later. I had donned an orange anorak (was this a mistake??) as it was cool and was on the very top of the crag with a high dipole enjoying the novelty of 4 contacts on 2m (I was not expecting to qualify!) and had reached 3 on 70cm when we heard a quad bumping over the bracken below but I wasn’t concerned by this until I realised it had stopped close by. Soon, while calling, I saw a tall figure approach and stand beside my guys. As soon as I could I aked a caller to stand by as a person was beside me and I looked over and greeted him. ‘Stop now. Do you realise you are on PRIVATE LAND!?’ was the immediate reply. I put the handy down and we started a long conversation which, heavily edited, showed that I was speaking to the local farmer whose farm was due west of our position and thus we had come from a completely different direction. He did not allow people to come on his land unless they called at his farm in person and asked permission. The concept of Access land was not supported by him (he called it the ‘A word’) and thus we (and all the others he had turfed off during the Summer) had no right to be there. This was not a discussion about radio - this topic was never mentioned except that I was not to speak to anyone else and must dismantle immediately. This I did calmly and without hurry as he stood his ground and watched. At intervals he expressed more of his views and accused us of having climbed over walls to reach the spot despite my explanation that we had followed the footpath from the Lakes car park. I finally could stand this no longer and, as my companion is lightly built and we are both retired, I asked whether we looked like the sort of people who climbed over walls at which he had the grace to be silent for short while.
Once packed I asked if I might let Rodney know we were about to descend and he agreed so I just confirmed that we were OK (there had been 10-15 mins of silence from us) and would soon be descending - (this was quite useful as it was my 4th on 70cm!!) - and we started on the path down. He followed and sent the dogs down to us so I patted the firendly one again, had another exchange of words when I apologised again for upsetting him (but NOT for going on his land as I knew this was perfectly legal and I stood very firm on that) and down we went. As I come from a rural area with many sheep I had tried to turn the conversation to the difficulties of sheep-rearing and heard that the maggots were bad this year etc but he was not to be calmed and I was just yet another person to be turned off his private land.
We walked back down the hill, rejoined the lake path and caught up our companions just before the car park so all was well but it was lucky that I was in an assertive but not aggressive mood as it was obvious that the conversation could have got very heated. I only afterwards heard that Rodney had had the 2 dogs set on him whehen he was descending - and then found the farmer above him when a few words were exchanged (including ‘Private’ and’ Access’) so the farmer was nicely warmed up before finding me. For the record, Rodney waved his pole at the dogs and the farmer called them off.
Just a warning to further visitors to this lonely little hill - please don’t give up going and you probably won’t be spotted unless you are in bright orange with a high pole on the very top - and he is out on his quad. I don’t want any aggro about this and I am sure no-one else does too. This is the first time I have been turfed off a hill but we have previously been escorted/shadowed off another quiet welsh hill which was used for pheasant rearing and the local gamekeepers didn’t want to lose any of them! They couldn’t stop us as we were walking through the state on a public footpath but they did make sure that our car left the valley.
73 and safe activating!
I’ve looked on the OS maps and I can see exactly what you describe, that the land is marked as ‘Access Land’ and there is a public right of way running roughly North-East to South-West about 300m to the North.
I find the OS Maps app on Android to be pretty reliable, and costs £28.99 per year. It’s not perfect, but you would have been able to show the OS explorer map to him, but it sounds like having any constructive conversation with the farmer was not going to happen.
I would encourage you to get Rodney to make a report to the police and/or the local dog warden. If the farmer has set is dogs on someone, this carriers some pretty severe penalties, if proven guilty in court. Whilst Rodney may not want to make a big deal about this, it is unlikely that this is the first time the farmer has done this. Reporting it to the Police and/or the local dog warden could make the difference to someone else.
Could I suggest you link this article to the summit page, so that future activators can read about your experience and plan accordingly? If you are not sure how to do it, I’d be happy to show you how.
Sorry to hear that you both were accosted by the land owner on this one. I wonder what the Rights of Way Officer at the local authority for the area might think of his actions. OA land is OA land - if he doesn’t accept that then he needs to speak to the local authority and get the land reclassified. However, knowing the terrain up to the summit, I somehow doubt that he would be successful.
Well done on keeping your cool Viki and retaining the moral high ground. Denying such people of an argument is perhaps the best approach.
Sorry to read this Viki. An extremely unnerving experience, especially with the thread of dogs. Really uncalled for.
In April, I approached the summit from the North-East and parked in the little place as outlined in Phil’s (G4OBK) blog post.
I did feel at the time something was amiss when I was encountered the following stile configuration.
Either there were stile climbing sheep or the farmer did not like company.
I recall hearing a trike or similar vehicle, further south and much lower.
I try to keep out of the way whenever possible and perhaps was lucky I wasn’t spotted that time.
Let’s hope the next activator won’t encounter this.
I’ve come across a few such obstructions in Wales. I even had a farmer deny that there was a bridleway across his land… as he stood by the sign for the bridleway. I decided not to confront him and approached the summit via an alternative route.
Lovely picture Robert M0RWX but you are being rather unfair to the farmer involved as just a few yards to the right is an old metal gate (if I remember correctly) which opens easily at the slightest touch and can equally easily be latched again. There is therefore no reason for anyone to use the ladder stile any longer. Indeed, on the path we followed from the Lake car park all the ladder stiles had been demolished and new metal pedestrian gates had been installed - and I was very grateful! It is possible that this obstruction was in the same spirit. I do admit that my heart sank when I first saw the high sheepwire but as soon as I saw (and used) the alternative gate I was very happy.
I am interested to see how many people (so far) think I should report this incident and I might well have agreed if I had just been having a picnic up on his ‘private’ crag BUT I was operating an amateur radio station up there. I have no evidence that the the right of ‘Access’ on all land coloured yellow on the 25K OS map includes the operation of radio stations and I have no wish to alert the authorities to this use of this type of land. If they think about it too hard they might decide it should be ‘looked into’ at best or, possibly ‘banned’ while they think about it. I would expect the MT to agree that this point needs careful consideration.
Concerning the two dogs I first saw them (NOT collies but smooth haired) when the black one approached me with tail wagging when I was talking to the farmer and he enjoyed my patting him. the light brown one kept away until he was sent down to join us on the descent but didn’t try to round us up, bark or act aggressively just stood in the way until I pushed past him (and patted the black one again). I didn’t find them aggressive but have no idea whether they would have been if given different instructions.
I had to climb over the gate, otherwise I would not have taken the picture.
Can’t recall whether it was rope or metal wire that required me to climb over; it definitely wasn’t a lock otherwise I would have remembered.
On whether to report it or not, only you can decide that taking into account what you experienced and how you felt.
The CROW act makes interesting reading. If only ZL were that enlightened …
Schedule 2 is obviously the important bit: the restrictions on what you can do on access land.
[EDIT: Link corrected - sorry]
I was surprised to see no restriction on erecting temporary structures. Which I suspected would be where amateur radio (and picnicking) fell into dubious grey areas under access rules. But no, nothing prohibiting that so long as you don’t erect advertising, placarding or notice (no SOTA flag?!) and don’t camp.
The only greyish area for SOTA would seem to be the prohibition on ‘organised games’. But I’d suspect that would be a long argument to try to make to prohibit it.
the access part of “open Access” so far as i can see comes with no restrictions (other than activities must be legal) Given amateur radio is a legal activity, that covers it!
I believe this MUST be reported ASAP, to the relevant authorities because this farmer sounds like the kind of nutjob who will eventually start taking pot shots with the 12 bore in the direction of any “trespasser”… I’ve been there before in y younger years, and believe me, its flippin’ scary!
Anyway, glad you are OK Viki, and you got off safely… I wonder if he would pick on a couple of larger, tougher blokes so easily??
As a distraction from tidying up the shack I thought I would add my views. I think you should report to the national park, in effect he told you to “Get off my land” and ignored the access rules. It has taken a long time (Kinder Trespass) and a lot of effort to get the access rules we have and in my view if as walkers we don’t stand up for our rights no-one else will and in effect landowners will begin to flout the law. I know of many landowners in the N Pennines that would quite like to ban all access to their land (other than those who can afford a few thousand pounds for a days shooting…). I don’t see the radio bit as relevant, his issue was not EMF, Noise Pollution or evil, magical use of the ether, it was the fact you were on access land… just my opinion … 73. Paul