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Rights of way in Spain

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Offline John C

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« on: January 16, 2012, 00:40 AM »
All of the areas I have visited in Spain seem to have well marked 'official' senderos, but looking on Wikiloc I have found many routes which, having looked at the starting point on Google Streetview, are not signposted, but are merely marked by a stile (or sometimes gate) leading to a path or track.  So, in the absence of any sign, how do I know whether such a path is private or public?  And if I take a path and meet a landowner how is he/she likely to react?  I know that there are broader controversies here (e.g. the notorious golf course that blocks the G7 longdistance path near Ronda) and I have more sense than to head off into fields populated by those handsome black bulls I see around Jerez (and elsewhere), but what is the situation?  Does it vary from province to province?  And that road marked with a sign 'Camino Particular' clearly means I can't drive my car along it, but can I go for a stroll?

Offline Bob M

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« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2012, 13:59 PM »
I'm never sure on this one either.

I see hunters walking all over the place though without any obvious problem, though I personally always try to keep to some obvious trail.

I seem to recall reading once that a stile was an implicit indication that there was a right of way, but I can't remember where.

If I saw 'Camino Particular' though I'd assume that it meant no entry for anybody.

But I'd also be interested in hearing other opinions.

Offline John C

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« Reply #2 on: January 17, 2012, 19:00 PM »
Thanks, Bob.  You rather summed up my own view in your post.  I too see hunters all over the place and assume they've special permission, but am not so sure that this applies to those foraging for wild asparagus, mushrooms, etc.,


Offline quentin

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« Reply #3 on: January 17, 2012, 21:11 PM »

Rights of Way and Ordnance Survey maps go hand in hand in England. If it's on the map as a right of way then we can assume that it is a right of way. Many is the time that I have walked along an ill defined route just waiting for the shout "Oy, get orf my land!"  I'm ways ready with the map to dispute the accusation and demonstrate the facts of public ownership. It helps so much when you can speak the language and understand both arguments. In England many "Rights of Way" have been eroded and planted over by farmers who, understandably, don't want the hassle of leaving a diagonal path across remote fields. It remains an emotive problem.

In Spain things are different. So far as I understand it, it is acceptable to walk where you want. However I advise strongly against wandering anywhere where fighting bulls are roving free. I've seen them and, despite years of road running and many hours spent in the gym, I think they will inevitable have the upper edge should it comes to a stand off.

I assume hunters have a right to rove where they will because they are part of a syndicate.  And pay for the privilege.

Walkers are probably something of a novelty for most land owners away from popular tourist areas.

I am currently house sitting near Valencia and have two dogs to look after. They are both (now) very fit and need a lot of walking. Because there are not a lot of footpaths near to the house and the dogs are hopeless on the roads we frequently cut across some private land to get from one track to another. Everyday I expect the landowner to ask what we are doing. My only defence will be that the dogs are not safe on the roads. My limited Spanish is good enough to explain this but I hope it will never come to that. The area we walk through is overgrown agricultural land. No longer worked and littered with spent shotgun cartridges. At one time it was probably full of people. I like to think the owners will appreciate any paths being kept open.

I suspect that it is an English thing to be worried about walking. I always feel uneasy, wether in England or here in Spain, unless I"m in the high mountains or on a footpath. I think we just have to be brave and ready to accept, at worst, someone asking us to bugger off. If a sign says Camino Particular then I wouldn't go beyond it. To me this means Private Property. Where I can I stick to footpaths or tracks. It's usually easier underfoot anyway.

What's the worse that's going to happen if you walk down a track? An irate landowner ranting and raving. Just apologise and go back. Of course if he or she has a gun then that is threatening behaviour with a firearm. Something very different in English law. But we aren't in England.

If only there were decent Spanish maps that had some bearing on reality.


ps Here in Valencia there are a lot of signs that suggest that the collection of wild mushrooms is prohibited. Not sure about asparagus though...

Offline Petrea

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« Reply #4 on: January 17, 2012, 21:28 PM »
Hi John,

I have now managed to dig an interesting article out of the piles. I can try to get an electronic version, if anyone cares to read the full 8 pages (in English).

It does not answer your question about how to find out if a path is public or private. I would assume that a path which is shown in a map is public(?).
And I hope that the people submitting routes to Wikiloc will tell you, if there is a potential problem. If not, other users will comment.

Around here, there are very few marked paths - but plenty of public paths. The town halls are slowly working out folders and descriptions to hand out or publish on the net.
If there is a path/track and no fence or gate (open or closed), I assume that it OK to walk there.

A summary of the article:
Apparently, Spain has got some nice rules which protect the paths aswell  as zones along the coast and rivers!  :clapping: And a public path cannot be fenced off.  :dancing: However, this is theory, in practice the autorities have not been able to keep an eye on and protect the paths!  :'(
An example is the old vias pecuarias - cattle driving routes. I understand that at least the new rules "legalizing" illegal houses here in Andalucia do not include any building in these areas, hope it is so!  :technodevil:

Cómpeta Naturaleza,  http://picasaweb.google.com/104328707567851681445

Minds are like parachutes - they only function when open.   (Thomas R. Dewar)