Some kindly authorities cater for the new hiker just starting out on the long journey of discovery by spelling out the type of right of way they are on. Bluffers may come across helpful signs declaring ‘Public Footpath’ or ‘Public Bridleway’. Some landowners like to show their sense of humour by installing their own signs declaring: ‘I don’t demand money for accessing this field, but the bull charges.’ There is no law against this.
Local authorities also use a colour-coding system for the directional arrows on waymarks. For footpaths, they use yellow; blue arrows identify bridleways, which are open to cyclists and horse riders; BOATs and RUPPs (see pages 29-30) are marked with red arrows, possibly to signify that as motor vehicles also use these routes, hikers are taking a risk.
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This system, of course, is of no use whatsoever to colour-blind hikers.
A good general rule is to beware of anything with horns.
Bluffers spotting plain white circular discs along the route should exercise extreme caution. This phenomenon occurs when the waymark is exposed to excess sunlight for prolonged periods of time (admittedly, unusual in Britain). The advice in these circumstances is to proceed quickly in order not to suffer the same consequences.
Another joy of hiking is experiencing close encounters with the other flora and fauna with which we share this planet. Hiking provides rare opportunities to get up close and personal with creatures many other people just don’t see – and to appreciate the power behind a ton of bovine muscle when it is charging at a rapidly increasing speed from a rapidly decreasing distance.
The chances of encountering livestock while out hiking are relatively high, and all bluffers should learn how to deal with each kind of animal in order to survive to tell the tale. A good general rule is to beware of anything with horns. Bulls, cows, deer, rams, or 44-ton lorries taking such animals to slaughter, should be avoided at all costs. Treat them as a blockage and look for a diversion.