I have lived in the countryside all of my life but I still constantly learn new things, not least how to conduct myself when out and about. Sad to say but I have known people who have not had the first idea on how to behave when out on the land, almost adopting the view that the countryside is a playground for them to come and go to as they please without understanding the basic unwritten rules on what is acceptable behaviour.
Travelling up to Exeter the other day the contractors had been busy and cut the brash on some of the banks on the A30. They had made a good job of it but the amount of litter it exposed had to be seen to be believed. It is not only the main transportation arteries either. Why, with all the superb recycling facilities in our beautiful county of Devon someone has got to dump widescreen TV packaging, a car battery and defunct rotary washing line to mention some of the items in our local lake car park is difficult to comprehend. Add to that the rubbish carelessly emptied from cars including used condoms, drinks cans and fast food packaging and it paints a sad picture of our don’t care society and the way we are bringing up our children, in my view anyway.
Finally, the amount of floating detritus washing up on the shore presumably from people using the visitor centre as well as boats and I hate to admit it, a minority of rogue fishermen, and you have a clear picture if one was needed of what a massive lack of respect some people hold for the countryside. Plus, the lake and A30 is just a small snapshot of the whole county.
It was always drummed into me as a child that if you go through a gate and it is closed close it behind you. Even this simple and obvious fact seems to elude some people out for the day, especially those with out of control dogs committing the worst and most indefensible act, sheep worrying. I still find it bewildering that I can read about sheep being chased and attacked locally on Dartmoor for example and wonder what kind of people allow their dogs to act in this way.
Unfortunately, not many dog owners seem to be aware that in situations like this a landowner has the lawful right to shoot dogs harassing stock. Many years ago, an individual recently moved into a village near us allowed his dogs to get out and unsupervised they continually harried our neighbours pregnant ewes. Not knowing whose dogs they were he reluctantly shot them both after trying unsuccessfully for some time to chase them off of his land with his quad bike. The naturally distraught owner was upset with the farmer but his carelessness and lack of understanding about the countryside and its rules had sadly committed the dogs to an early death.
I have posted previously on driving slowly in the narrow Devon lanes, giving way, especially to horses with riders and livestock and operating around a kind of unofficial highway courtesy. Despite this many animals, sheep and ponies mainly, are regularly run down by cars travelling too quickly, particularly on the moors. I have seen the ponies myself and to me at least they do seem quite large so how someone could not see them in time and slow down or stop is hard to understand.
I realise I sound a bit like Victor Meldrew today and that I am talking about a sad uncaring minority who spoil it for others but it saddens me that if we are not careful our wonderful cared for unspoilt countryside will go the way of the urban blight across our once proud nation. An endemic malaise fostered by poor parenting and a society seemingly viewing everything artificially on a brightly lit digital screen, with no appreciation of the reality and physicality of rural life any more.
What on earth has this got to do with property finding in Devon I hear you cry? Not a lot but it does concern me that we appear to have already gone too far to ever return to a civilised standard of rural conduct across the whole nation yet alone just Devon.
A sorry state of affairs to this ancient time-worn country boy…