The Proposed Dartmoor Bylaws in a Nutshell

The New Dartmoor Bylaws in a nutshell – from The Dartmoor Access Group.

Our nation responded to the challenges of 2020 by surrendering their freedoms to protect the NHS; this was a time when mass mortuaries were running out of space, when people were afraid for their families, and we were told by our Prime Minister that “we would lose loved ones before their time”.

The influx of people into the countryside is what they were being INSTRUCTED to do by daily briefings from No 10 – exercise, keep your distance, fresh air. For the most part the ‘wrong-doers’ knew no better and were entirely unaware that there were local restrictions in place.

And what did the DNPA do to provide facilities? The increased footfall within the national park should be celebrated and facilitated; additional toilets, parking, interpretation, education – EDUCATION not LEGISLATION!The byelaws that are currently in place could tackle any of the foreseen problems, you cannot misinterpret “no camping within 100m of a road”, and yet the DNPA did nothing about it; so how on earth does extending the current restrictions aid existing byelaws? Existing byelaws that they have dramatically failed to uphold in the first place – how does it meet their stated aims!

All it will achieve is the alienation of those of us who have maintained and upheld the law thus far.The DNPA is supporting, lock stock and barrel, the wishes of the landowners. The byelaw revision isn’t just about camping, they are enforcing many other areas of recreation activity. At the meeting where this proposal was approved (sept 3rd) the DNPA stated that they considered banning the launching of kayaks – but felt that there was enough legislation in place to deal with that already – This gives you a picture of the things to come!

Other National parks embrace, welcome and help outdoor users of all persuasions, the DNPA just seems to outlaw what a small number of landowners object to. They’ve become the mouthpiece and spirit of a legitimised ‘Farmer Palmer’ shouting get off moy laaand or I’ll fine ‘e’ 500 quid! AND reserving the right to expand wild camping bans without further consultation.

So that’s now a £500 for:

Riding a bicycle anywhere other than a bridle path.

Having a dog on lead lower than 2m.

LNT camping on open country.

Camping with a 4 man tent.

More than 6 people camped within an undefined radius.

“Occupying” a vehicle after 9pm!

Hitting a golf ball.

Flying a drone.

And most dramatically – Limiting our freedom of association with others to 50 people! a freedom that is upheld in article 11 of the Human Rights Act.

This proposal is nothing short of a power-grab by a local authority that would rather many freedoms of public access didn’t exist.

They are putting into place localised law where national legislation already has primacy, thus enabling an increase in revenue while upholding the wishes of landowners who’s land would be a public right of access anyway.

The Dartmoor Commons Act, in respect of public access, has been superseded by the CRoW Act for what is undeniably open country.

The DNPA will be looking just a bit silly when they become the first park authority to provoke a reenactment of ‘1932 on Kinder Scout’ for recklessly infringing on the freedoms of our great British countryside. “

Please email an objection to the proposed new Dartmoor Bylaws, marking your emails “Personal – For the Attention of Kevin Bishop”

By John Bainbridge

Rambler, hillwalker, stravaiger and trespasser, access campaigner. Novelist writing historical and period crime fiction.


  1. As you say the rangers don’t enforce the current bylaws and they certainly won’t enforce these. I for one won’t be changing. I’ll certainly be sat in my car watching the sunset at the the top of Pork Hill on a regular basis, which is well after 9pm in summer. Plus I’d love to see them hand over a £500 fine to a walker or group of walkers, and who’s going to hand over the fine the rangers surely aren’t allowed to do that, and they won’t be allowed to obstruct you from leaving the area. Again nothing will change and all those causing the problems will be in Spain next year anyway

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Very important to get objections in by the end of the month. Worth looking at the FB page of the new Dartmoor Access Group.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. There are some ridiculous ones but I’m fully in agreement with the first about pedal cycles – they’re really destroying our mountain paths in the Lakes – wrecking zig-zags, gullying the paths which have formed ‘steps’ in the earth (the ones which prevent further erosion), making boggy sections of path worse etc. Oncoming ‘mountain’ bikes also force walkers off footpaths a lot.

    I also find hobby drones pretty annoying but don’t suppose they need to be banned really.

    Liked by 1 person

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