I went up a hill in Oxfordshire that looked like a bum – because it’s there.
At RighttoRoam, we spend much time justifying why the public need much greater access to nature. We cite the mental, physical and spiritual health benefits, all proven by science. But today I trespassed just because the hills outside my boat look just like a bum.
Oxfordshire, like a lot of English counties, has a fine network of footpaths. Registered Rights of Way are great, they allow people with disabilities easier access to the outdoors, they allow abled bodied people to catch a quick breath of fresh air.
But what if your curiosity of nature extends further than walking in straight lines? What if you wonder about local botany or entomology? What if, like Mallory said of Everest, you simply want to climb Bumhill, ‘because it’s there’?
This particular hill is fortified with 6ft high chain link fencing, all wrapped in barbed wire. The larma farmer, who owns the land, keeps his larmas in fields across the road, closer to the river, and uses the meadow for hay.
At all other times, Bumhill remains empty – blocked this time by three sets of wire fencing. I follow the perimeter, climbing the hill which looks like it might have some of the best views for miles around.
There’s always a way in…
There was no scientific justification for my trespass. No stats to offer on the inequality of land access in England. I simply wanted to explore my local area. For most of us, this is the heart of access to nature, and yet this is the very reason that gets overlooked in debates.
In Scotland where you have the right to roam, no one asks you why you do it. As long as you cause no damage and leave no trace, whether it\’s a mountain or a Bumhill, Mallory’s simple reasoning should suffice: because it’s there.