Access to the mountains


Sir, – Further to John G O’Dwyer’s article “Goodwill of mountain owners should be lauded” (Opinion & Analysis, January 3rd), I live near Snowdonia in Wales for most of the year. The contrast with Ireland, except in the beauty of the mountains, could hardly be greater.

In Wales, there are well-constructed pathways and footbridges, there are ample well-spaced parking facilities, coupled with buses traversing the mountain roads. Walkers have a legal right to access huge ares of mountain and use legally binding rights of way. To take one example: Snowdon attracts far more walkers than Carrauntoohil, and although it is at times overcrowded, everything possible is done to facilitate walkers, not restrict them. Much of the land in Snowdonia is privately owned and landowners are paid little or nothing for facilitating access, nor are they looking for anything.

In relation to occupiers’ liability, the relevant Act has been in operation for 24 years and has resulted in one claim against a farmer – and that was unsuccessful. If farmers are that nervous they should check that their insurance against being struck by stray comets is up to date.

With hill-farming in terminal decline and only viable with huge grants from the taxpayer, one would think that farmers would want to diversify into agri-tourism, as farmers have done in Britain and elsewhere. Restricting access and putting obstacles in the way of recreational users are hardly the ways forward. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 16.