Plea for walkers to take care as farmer's land damaged

  • Watch Charlotte Gay's report.

A North Somerset farmer estimates he will have lost £1,600 in income because of people walking over his crops.

Chris Wyatt has put up signs next to his fields in Backwell because people are walking further into his winter wheat plants as they try to avoid mud on footpaths.

As more people are using the countryside for their daily exercise in lockdown, Chris estimates he's seen 10 times as many people walking across his land as he normally would.

He said: "We want everybody to enjoy the countryside but unfortunately the sheer volume of people as you can see has totally destroyed the footpath so now it is almost impassable."

Chris Wyatt has put signs up to remind walkers to be responsible in his fields Credit: ITV West Country

The livestock and arable farmer says some of the footpaths on his land are now eight meters wide as people try to find steadier ground to walk on.

"It is a considerable loss of crop, and the damage is done it wont come back and it destroys the soil structure as well."

Regular walkers have also noticed the paths getting muddier as more people explore their local area, with some saying people need to respect the land they walk on.

Sophie Brown has been walking across the West Country for decades Credit: ITV West Country

Sophie Brown is a member of the Bristol ramblers. She says the positives of getting out needs to be balanced with the impact on the countryside.

She said: "I think it is brilliant that people are getting out and I have seen so many people and I think wow, this is really good because we know the benefits to the physical and mental health."

Walkers are being reminded to wear sensible footware when they head out into the countryside. Credit: ITV West Country

The National Farmers Union supports this message, and says people have right of access to more than 225,000km of public rights of way in England and Wales.

Deputy President Stuart Roberts told ITV West Country: "The countryside is a beautiful place to walk in and is maintained this way because it is a working environment, so it's important to take care and be mindful of your surroundings.

"It's important to always follow the guidance in the Countryside Code when visiting rural areas; keep to footpaths and other public rights of way, leave gates as you find them, and take your rubbish home. If you have a dog keep it under effective control."

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