The many and varied types of gate locking mechanisms found in the British countryside really typify what it means to roam the countryside in England, Scotland, and Whales. The public here have ‘the right to roam’ which, in England, means people can use any of the hundreds of public rights of way, even if they happen to cross through privately owned land, so long as certain rules are adhered to. One of those rules is to close any gates that you pass through to stop any livestock from escaping from one area to another. Farmers and land owners install many, creative, thrifty, or over-engineered methods for walkers to lock the gates behind themselves. Many different types are encountered on any one walk; each type seems wonderfully unique and can give you clues about the trail ahead: how well the trail is maintained, how well trodden the trail is, or how much money/ time the landowner has to spend on their gates. The lack of standardisation among these locking mechanisms not only mirrors the the rustic, ancient stone walls and landscape they are set in, but also mirrors the nuanced differences in culture/s accent and ways of life found across the island that I think typifies Britain for many people.

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