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Trail talk: Drones- are they an intrusion?

So, here it is. I went for a walk today, a very enjoyable 13 miles on my London Countryway charity walk (the miles continue to fall- 132.5 miles done). I exited a wood and joined a short stretch of road. Then I heard a loud buzzing in the air over my right shoulder and I saw a drone speeding off ahead over the field beyond the hedge to my right.

“Ah” I said to myself, ” a drone, not seen one of them on any of my walks before”

… and walked on. A hundred metres further on I exited from beneath a large spreading Oak tree to find the drone directly in front of me, stationary in the air, some fifty feet up, buzzing furiously. I ignored it but found it then lowered to around twenty-five feet, and tracked me as I carried on my way.

My companion for part of the London Countryway today

My companion for part of the London Countryway today

I have no idea where it had originated, who was operating it and I was on a public thoroughfare. What was very obvious, was that I was being tracked and observed, at quite close proximity. I soon left the track, joining a bridlepath that went off to the left and down a long and rather lovely sunken lane. At intervals I could see it as it waited at gaps in the vegetation to watch me before moving on to the next vantage point. The noise was a constant.

OK, it was no real threat, it was only for some quarter of a mile, but it got me to thinking. I am very much a ‘live and let live’ type of guy. I have my interests, many people have their interests. Fine, everyone can get on and do what they like as long as no one is hurt and no harm done.

I know there are a number of outdoor people, quite well-known bloggers amongst them, that like to use a drone. I am aware of the existence of such things, I don’t live under a rock. But have never ever encountered one on a walk. I have watched countless stunning pieces of film, shot at height over quite beautiful countryside. But is this also the future? Unknown, unseen individuals, flying their drones overtly close to anyone they wish?

Surely there is an expected and accepted code of conduct. Or am I being unreasonable?

A little further on I met a horse rider and chatted about what I had seen- ” Oh no” said the rider, indicating her horse, she continued- “we had one over our heads a few weeks ago and he absolutely flipped out”

Not just me then.

2 replies »

  1. Yes, there is a code (‘The Dronecode’) published by the Civil Aviation Authority here: and there are Air Navigation Orders which refer to the use of unmanned aircraft: Additionally, if the drone was fitted with a camera (I’m not an expert so cannot tell from your photo if it was) and if it was capturing images of you, then there are data protection obligations which the operator should have complied with as outlined by the guidance published by the Information Commissioner’s Office: Whilst I enjoy watching videos shot by drones which give unique views of the countryside, buildings and urban areas drone operators must be considerate to others, and stories reported by the media give examples of the type of behavior which will undoubtedly lead to greater legal restrictions on their ownership and use in the UK. As ever it is a case of the thoughtless few… Enjoying your blog.


    • Thanks Rich for your comment. I thought there was a code, but obviously in the middle of a field or on a lonely track somewhere, it is beholden on the operator to follow it. There is little opportunity for anyone being bothered by intrusive drones to do much about it. Likewise, I have really enjoyed some of the footage from drones; seeing the tors across Dartmoor from the air really gives an additional sense of the land not realised on the ground. I don’t want to get bogged down in complaining, this really is the first time I have ever been bothered by a drone and it lasted no more than half an hour, if that. Hopefully a one off. But, nonetheless, many thanks for providing the information and links


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