IT was infamous English landowner Nicholas Van Hoogstraten who labelled ramblers `the scum of the earth´ when they forced him over a long and ultimately successful campaign to open a footpath that went beside his house.

In the United Kingdom, both singer Madonna and model Claudia Schiffer have also failed to re-route footpaths due to the strength of British law protecting rights to roam and public access. In Spain, things are rather different, with landowners, smallholders and cottage owners alike all regularly blocking paths with little comeback.

But the attitude towards footpaths is probably best summed up when the footpath labelled “the most important in Andalucía” – the GR7 which goes from Tarifa to Greece – is shut off in Ronda, by a speculative golf course development of 800 houses, BEFORE it has even been built.

And who said: “Golf was a good walk spoiled!” Well, just for your information it was Huckleberry Finn writer Mark Twain.

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