Hazards

This page lists the kind of mild hazards you may meet along the way.

Mud and waterlogging.

Mud is a perennial problem, especially in the clay areas of the Weald, less so in the sandy areas and high hills. This is England and if you hate mud and water, you will not enjoy walking, so you must come to terms with mud and puddles! Come well prepared with good ankle-length waterproof boots and you may even enjoy the mud. Mud can often be avoided by hopping, straddling or diverting. For some notes about contacting us on this topic, see feedback.

Nettles and worse.

Nettles usually grow around farm land because they like fertile soil The front page of these walks gives some idea of whether you may encounter unavoidable nettles, or any scratchy undergrowth. Remember, the walk might have been written in winter when there were no nettles.

There has been news of the danger of ticks and lyme disease which can be a risk especially in spring and summer. If you have any worries about this, please read the literature and if in doubt, always cover your legs and arms.

Broken stiles, closed gates, barbed wire fences.

Always test every stile before putting your full weight on it. Many stiles are not nailed down or they rock or swivel. If you find a dangerous stile, please report it to the local council.

If you find a gate closed which you think should be open, please check to see if there is a stile nearby or a smaller gate that you are supposed to use. If you absolutely must climb a gate, please be very careful for your toes! Climb on the side where the hinges are. If you find the route illegally fenced-off, please report it to the local council. Never climb through or over barbed wire! Any other spot is better: a closed gate, a post, a bush, anything.

Electric fences.

This is not Jurassic Park. An electric fence is fed off a car battery and just gives you a slight jolt in the unlikely case that you touch it accidentally. Farmers must by law protect and warn the walker. If the fence runs over a gate, there is usually an insulated sleeve and a hook. The sleeve is perfectly all right to handle: you won't get a shock!

Cattle

Some people are hugely worried about cattle, others don't give them a second thought, others hold them in great affection and know all the breeds. This site cannot give advice on dealing with cattle and walkers must refer to one of the country code sites. These walks do not go out of their way to avoid cattle and we do not usually warn about them. Any views or suggestions here are purely from personal experience. In any green field there might have been no cattle at all for years and suddenly the farmer decides to put some out to graze for a few days at the time you go walking, so you may be the first to encounter them on any particular walk. Young bullocks often crowd you out of curiosity (or expectation of feeding?). They stop short and a wave of the stick or clap of the hands will send them off.

You may have read somewhere about casualties, but these were mainly farm workers and, of the rest, most had a dog. The rule seems to be: don't walk between a cow and her calf. (So skirt around any group with calves.) If you have dog and a cow is nervous of the dog, slip the dog off the leash.

In 2015, we started to insert notes on cattle in green colour giving details of how often they graze and how to avoid them if desired. If you have any reason to be worried, you should be justified in diverting round a field perimeter, or through a different field or, if necessary, on a road.

Litter

This site only publishes walks that are clean and free of pollution. If you find any unsightly mess en route, please swallow your pride and pick it up. Some people carry a spare plastic bag for this purpose. Sooner or later, you will pass a domestic waste bin and you can drop it in. (Not really legal, but the least of evils.) One contributor filled two whole garbage sacks with beer cans in one short stretch and left them with a note in the village saying 'don't leave this to an outsider - clean up your mess!'.

The Pink Peril

Pretty aren't they? Those tall pink bell-like flowers. Worse than the triffids of SciFi. I mean Himalayan balsam. The bane of our forests and you can detect the awful stench long before you reach them. They can colonise a stretch of woodland within a few seasons, destroying (or really disabling) every other plant (except nettles possibly - is that sheer cunning or is there some hope here?). This plant is an annual which seeds in late summer. The seeds shoot out several metres. By now it's too late, so pull them up as soon as they start to grow in May and June.

Maybe the best idea is to confine them within a sector. You may see them dense on one side of the path, with one or two that have 'jumped' to the other side. Pull up those one or two. There's no hope for the dense growth (till the cavalry - the balsam bashers - arrives). If they have seeded, it's useless pulling them up: you just spread the seeds. Don't pick up the seeds on your shoes or clothing!