Flying from public walkways in the countryside

HI there,

I was wondering if anyone knows if it’s ok to fly from a public walkway. There is a farm that backs onto the river with a public walkway along the river. If I stay 50m from anyone can I takeoff from the path or would I have to seek the farmers permission?


If the footpath is on his land then I would go and talk to him and certainly engage him in conversation and be friendly and give them an opportunity to form a positive opinion of our hobby. Even if it’s adjacent to his land it wouldn’t hurt, if your drone comes down on his land at least you would be able to fetch it or even film what they are doing in the fields with his blessing. The best way to piss someone off is to just help yourself and pay no attention to them or their belongings. Not necessarily the correct answer but I always think your best course of action is what feels right


Thanks for the reply. You’re right, I just need to find the farmers house! Finding contact details for landowners is proving difficult so I’ve stuck to parks and nature reserves with permission from the council responsible.

I find that farmers are a nightmare to deal with. They seem to sublet their fields out to each other!! The nearest farm might not be the landowner or user. But we’ll worth a try and certainly won’t harm the hobby, he might even let you film him ploughing/harvesting the fields when you get to know him. Just watch out for guard dogs on the farm.

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I work with farmers every day and yes they are certainly a breed apart. There are definitely some pretty big arseholes but that is the same in every walk of life. Most farmers are just at the end of their tether with folks wandering about on their property, dogs running around off the lead, shitting all over the fields and chasing the stock. Pikey’s and low life’s illegally dumping in every gateway and running over the fields at night lamping and setting hay stacks alight. People seem to think that they have a god given right to treat farm land as an extension of their own property and treat the land owner accordingly. The vast majority of farmers are not the popular idea of land owning gentry swanning around in a Land Rover whipping the yokels but are in fact living at or below the poverty line scrapping a living and quite often holding down a second full time job to make ends meet. You are far more likely to get trapped and questioned to death and asked about everything and everyone you know from a chap that rarely sees anyone else and never gets off the farm than anything else. If he says no then what have you lost? If he says yes then when you are out and inevitably some busy body starts telling you what you can and can’t do then you can at least say well “Bob says it’s ok” which will shut them right up.


Well put!

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I agree. The farmers I deal with are fantastic and very helpful, I haven’t come across a bad one yet. What I meant is that they can be a nightmare finding out who actually uses that particular bit of land, because they rent it out to each other. Many is the time I’ve knocked on a farm door only to be told that he lets out the field to a mate across the way, who then let’s it out to another pal. Getting hold of them is a nightmare as they seem to be never in. So if you intend to fly, make sure you are prepared to set aside a day or two just to find out who owns what.

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Amen to that my brother :+1:t2:

Indeed, it’s almost impossible…

As suggested above, knock on the door of the house nearest the area you want to fly.

Don’t say, “Can I fly my drone over your fields…?”

Instead say something like, “I’m really in to aerial photography and would love to take some photos of your land, I’ll happily email you any photos I take from the air too!”

You’ll soon get them on side :smiley:


I am not sure whether you’re allowed legally to do anything on a footpath other than walk. By which I mean I think you’re not meant to even stop - I was quoted a case involving some lord or duke who prosecuted someone for looking/loitering/or perhaps even watching his horses. So seeing as the land which comprises a public walkway is usually privately owned, I’d say it’s dubious if you’re allowed without permission to launch or land a drone.

You can stop on a public right of way, take photos etc. I’ll look up the details when I’m home.

From experience, you can stop for a pee. :smiling_imp: #TMI
Just have to be quick … like taking off! :rofl:

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These guys may help although quickly searching their site turned up nothing for aerial, drone or UAS / UAV.

Legally, you can pass and repass on a PROW, and do anything “reasonably incidental” to your journey. This is normally taken to include stopping to admire the view, take photographs, make a sketch, consume refreshments etc. See for example Picnics on Footpaths and Using Public Rights of Way | OutdoorsWest. You must not cause an obstruction while doing so, and you must also not leave the path - these two points are obviously in conflict with each other. I doubt there’s any case law yet about whether stopping to fly a drone is “reasonably incidental”.

Hello. Just joiined. First time post here and I wanted to respond to the “farmer” comments in this topic. Having been one all my life I would like to put “our” side of the coin in a bit more detail if I may. Firstly, the countryside has changed out of all recognition in my 70 years. All you would get crime-wise in those days was a bit of poaching perhaps. Maybe a few spuds taken out of a field, nothing very serious. But consider it today. Firstly, we know we are very vulnerable because we are spread out. Our buildings that contain hay, straw, livestock, machinery, fuel, tools stand out. We can’t just pick them up and move them, we have to install crime prevention and detection measures as much as we are able.

And why do we have to do this ? Because iwe are seen as easy prey for the increasingly lawless society that we have around us. I have friends who have had quads, fuel, expensive tools like chainsaws, welders, 20tn jacks, et al stolen. I have one friend who has had 6 ewes (adult sheep) slaughtered and then butchered in a field, leaving behind the carcasses. I have suffered hare coursing and when confronting the individuals it became immediately apparent that if I didn’t go away and mind my own business, WHEN I WAS ON MY OWN LAND, that I was going to get hurt. 6 against 1 is not a good time to be a hero.

Unless firearms have been involved, or a serious injust has been perpetrated, the Police see our sort of crime as low priority.

I’m sorry to drone on a bit (see - we do have a humorous side !), especially for my first post but it isn’t an easy way to make a living, never was. But to anyone who wants to fly over farm land then go and find out who farms it, get the full position, and don’t expect something for nothing. Perhaps make an offer to fly over the land and report anything that you think is suspicious on a regular basis, tell them that you won’t fly over livestock other than at 400ft or not at all if that’s what they wish.

Enough from me for now. I have only tried to be helpful.


It’s always good to get the “other side of the coin” so to speak.
Speaking for majority of the members on here, who are honest and wish to fly legally.
I am sure that most of them would want to echo your thoughts on being responsible flyers.
To allow them freedom of use of your land in return for reporting any suspicious goings on is a cheap price to pay in recompense.
Where I live is a very rural area (East Anglia)
It’s one thing asking the permission of the Land Owner, if only you could find out which bloody Farm/House he lives in !.
I have had so many “Fleas in my ears” over the last 6 years I have been flying Quads, it’s become a joke !.
I have had the “Gid Orf My Land” from roused Farmers !.
Strange how you can never find them when you want to, but, they always appear when you fly over their land !.
Joking aside, I echo your sentiments, that it could be beneficial to both parties.
Let’s hope our Farming community realise that it could do them some good by allowing drone flyers onto their land at Non Crop times.


Thank you for that response. I’m not sure what you mean by “Non Crop times” but there is merit in flying over crops as those farmers who have their own drones will tell you. Supposing livestock, either your own or a neighbours, have got into a crop, has anyone left a gate open anywhere ? Has anyone dumped rubbish in a gateway ? Is anyome making crop circles or other damage ? Have travellers set up camp ? Can you see anyone walking about with a gun or a group of people with hounds ?

On the subject of finding out who the farmer is then I appreciate that can be difficult. Years ago farmers, in the main, farmed just one block of land, either rented or owned. But you could make a living on 50 acres in those days. You couldn’t do that today unless you are an intensive pig/poultry/horticultural enterprise. So people who have 100 acres have to let someone else farm it and pay them rent or sell it and get out. It’s called share farming or contract farming. Like most businesses in life today farming has got a lot more 0000s on the end of everything. Acreage farmed, price of kit, etc. etc.


Hi - nice tractor in your avatar - I used to have an old 4WD Belarus. It seems there is an opportunity for cooperation with farmers and others who live in relatively isolated areas. Basically becoming part of the local Country Watch (if the police have implemented it in that area) and offering an oversight of the land in return for using various launching sites. Monitoring crops would be handy too if the farmer hasn’t already got his own drone kit.

A bit like offering pest control in return for shooting rights. The only hassle that I can see is it could possibly be seen as commercial work if you consider the benefit of having a launch site and permission to overfly to be a benefit with monetary value. That may well change if/when the new regulation s come in to force next year .

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You make a good point about commercial undertakings. I admit to having not thought about it from that angle. I would hope that as long as no money changes hands and the fact that you are just helping a friend it would not be considered a commercial exercise ?

Hi @scraperman , I sympathise with your concerns,( pykies and the like) having lived in rural communities most of my life, even had my own small holding ( until a tractor fell on me) but that’s another story.
It took me a couple of weeks to find the farmer of a local field for me to fly, there main concern was it would lead to hordes of people traipsing all over there land as in if one person is seen on the land others will think it’s ok, so I do understand.
Once they knew who I was and where I live it was all good but I always try to get permission from owners, if not I go from lay-bys or not bother with that area.

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It’s a potential grey area, much discussed in here. Apparently the CAA are too distracted by the registration debacle to give proper replies to questions regarding flights being commercial or not.

My understanding is that when and if we adopt forthcoming European legislation in June next year the need for a commercial qualification diminishes. At that point it seems that you will be able to fly over open land outside a restricted zone for any legal purpose. If you are flying for the benefit of yourself and or the farmer and doing so within the restraints of the drone code I can see no problems apart from, as @robwakefield99 points out, giving the impression that anyone can overfly.,

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