A benefit to landowners of having public paths across their land is that the paths’ users are eyes and ears.
There is a flock of sheep and young lambs in the field behind our house at Turville in the Chilterns. The field is crossed by Ibstone footpath 5.
On Saturday night there was a heavy fall of snow and unfortunately some lambs must have been smothered in snow and suffocated; there were corpses along the top hedge on Sunday morning. In the evening there was a lamb, in a bad way but still alive, lying among the corpses by the hedge. I saw it because I was walking the footpath. I ran home and contacted the farmer who came out and rescued it.
It’s the same in other places. The excellent Dartmoor Livestock Protection Officer, Karla McKechnie, writes in the annual report of the Dartmoor Livestock Protection Society how walkers and riders on the Dartmoor commons spot problems with livestock and phone her. She then contacts the owner, or goes out herself to tend to the animal. Many a life has been saved as a result of people out and about, on access land and paths.