THE ONE TRUE WAY
The more astute bluffer will be aware that a footpath does not have to exist on the ground for it to be a legal right of way. This is why maps show footpaths crossing rivers when there is no bridge. Just because there is a right of way doesn’t mean that you can physically exercise your right.
Lone Star Hiking Trail Map Photo Gallery
All land is owned by someone, whether it is a private individual, a company, a local authority, a charitable organisation or, in the UK, the Crown (which owns quite a lot). Footpaths that are legal rights of way give anyone the right to cross that land on that path without fear of trespassing, as long as they don’t wander off the path.
Trespassing is usually a civil matter, not a criminal offence. If you do trespass, you could be sued for damages in the civil courts rather than be prosecuted in the criminal courts. Warning signs saying ‘Trespassers will be prosecuted’ are therefore technically inaccurate, although such signs tend to be installed by landowners who don’t appreciate forthright conversations with hikers who point out the finer aspects of the law. You will realise that telling an angry landowner that the sign really should read ‘Trespassers will be sued’ is ill-advised, especially if he is pointing a shotgun at you.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule, and trespassing can be a criminal offence if you’re caught wandering along railways or through military training areas. Wisdom would suggest that it is not in a bluffer’s interest to be trespassing in such areas anyway, particularly if you’re interested in self-preservation.
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