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“Have a bit of this”: Cyclist camping overnight in field sprayed with slurry from tractor by “annoyed” farmer who wanted to teach a “lesson” to trespassing campers

The beef and sheep farmer saw the cyclist camping against the hedge and drove his tractor to spray a wall of manure on him, saying: “You won’t be staying in anyone’s fields ever again”

A cyclist who was camping overnight at a field in Devon was sprayed with slurry for 15 seconds after a farmer who saw the cyclist's tent in his field got in his tractor to teach him “not to stay in anyone’s fields ever again”.

The incident, first reported by The Sun, was captured on video last week by Jack Bellamy, a third generation farmer from Tavistock, Devon with 200 cows and 650 sheep on his farm. 

Bellamy sees the black tent propped against the hedge and gets in his John Deere tractor, before saying: “I’ll tell you what, these *****, they’ll f****** set up anywhere. They do not give a flying f***. They’ll go anywhere.”

He starts driving towards him, blasting slurry out of his tractor, even stopping just past him to get the maximum amount of manure on the cyclist, who seems to be caught completely unaware and is seen ducking behind the tent to shelter himself from the wall of slurry being thrown at him.

“I’ll tell you what chap, have a bit of this,” Bellamy says, while driving past him and filming with a handheld device at the same time.

> How to wild camp responsibly with OS Maps and Cycling UK

Bellamy later told The Sun: “I went out in the morning because I had to get on. When I looked in the field I saw a tent on the freshly cut grass. There was someone camped right up against the hedge.

“I left him covered in slurry. He never said a word — he couldn’t really argue with that. I’m sure he had a nice evening there, but he didn’t have a very nice wake up call.

“He must’ve heard the tractor coming because he was out of his tent. I said ‘You won’t be staying in anyone’s fields ever again’ and then I drove on and carried on with my morning.

“When my dad went back later the tent was gone, there was a white patch where the tent was and the slurry hadn’t been. I would hate to think what he smells like now.

“There is a campsite 400 yards in one direction and 600 yards in the other but they just please themselves these people. We’ve had people from towns walking in the fields.

“There is 50,000 acres of Dartmoor nearby and he chose to camp in my field. They come up from the towns and think they can do what they want. We’ve had loads of trouble with dogs worrying the sheep.

“They wouldn’t like it if I went camping in their garden. They’ve got no knowledge of the countryside at all. They come up from the towns and think they can do what they want. They probably think food grows on a plant or something.”

> Farming community divided over “arrogant, entitled” farmer spraying camping cyclist with slurry in “downright nasty” video

It would be important to point out that wild camping is illegal and a civil offence in England and Wales, with the exception of some parts of Dartmoor. Campers must get permission from the landowner to camp, which includes tents and motorhomes, or risk being charged with trespassing.

Anyone who refuses to move faces fines up to £2,500 if caught breaking the rules, although first time offenders are likely to be charged up to £300. You could even face a prison sentence of up to three months if you refuse to leave when requested to do so by police. Wild camping is legal in Scotland, however, as long as local guidelines are followed.

The reaction to the situation has been mixed, with many anti-cycling views and opinions running rampant on social media. However, farmers themselves have been quite divided about the whole incident, with many calling it a “horrible thing to do” and “pretty grim and quite sad behaviour from the tractor driver” on the Farming Forum.

Meanwhile, environmental lecturer and Right to Roam campaigner Lewis Winks has criticised the farmer’s actions and offered an insight into the cyclist’s perspective, who as of now remains unidentified: “Consider this – you’re on a bike tour, alone but free. Exhausted after many miles on the road, scouting spots to sleep before continuing the next day. After an hour you opt for a discreet field edge.

“You wake up early and begin packing up, then this happens. Truly unjustifiable.”

He added: “Firstly, trespass is a civil offence – despite the best efforts of the dying Tory government. It’s a matter between the landowner and the trespasser, provided there are no aggravating circumstances. Common assault, however, is a criminal offence.”

> Why don't cyclists use the cycle lane? Because a farmer has dumped hundreds of tonnes of sugar beet in it

Winks then shared the Met Police’s stance on “camping without permission”, which recommends that landowners “talk to the people occupying your land and ask them to leave, if you feel safe to do that”, and reminds them that “you could find yourself guilty of several criminal offences if you forcibly attempt to remove them or their property.”

“Dialogue is the best course of action,” says Winks. “The rights of landowners are vast and sacrosanct in the UK – and far outweigh their legal responsibilities to people or nature. Including their own land which too often is also subject to abuse. Crying trespass distracts from the imbalance between rights and responsibilities.

“The rights of people – particularly those wishing to access land – on the other hand, are wildly lacking. Yet, we have a bedrock of historic and customary rights which have not entirely been swept away by property law. The civil attitude to trespass is in part an admission of this. Just west of where this incident took place is Dartmoor, where historic customs were written into bylaws in 1985, protecting wild camping; placing into stark contrast the farmer’s response.

“Secondly, on the notion of planning ‘better’,” he continued, “I’d wager that the majority of those with this view have never undertaken a long-distance expedition. If they had they'd realise that part of what it means ‘to plan’ is to prepare for the unexpected, to expect to change plans.

“I’d also bet that most of these detractors have not experienced wild camping and the feeling of freeing oneself from constraints of expensive, rigid, and scarce campsites in the UK. Elsewhere, such as in France, there are much better – more dependable networks of municipal campsites, but here it’s a nightmare trying to plan a trip based on private campgrounds which require booking ahead – and they’re often expensive and shite.

“Plus, of course, the sheer joy of waking up on your own with the golden light of a solstice sunrise, kettle on the boil, and on the road before the town wakes up, carefully leaving no trace of you being there. As for ‘you should have asked for permission’... just try finding out who owns the land in England while at a desk, let alone while on the road.

“And – to those who say ‘what about litter’. Our crisis is one of disconnection, it’s a lack of access to nature (not the opposite) which is unravelling our ability to know the land.”

> Opening stage of Etoile de Bessèges cancelled – due to protests from Jeremy Clarkson-idolising French farmers

Winks concluded: “This dude was bike touring – camping in a discreet spot, rising early, packing up in the golden opening of the day. And he was assaulted by someone who calls themselves a custodian of the land.”

As unlikely as it may seem, this isn’t the first time cyclists and farmers have locked horns.

Two years ago, a foul-mouthed anti-cyclist rant went viral on a Facebook page, and has been regularly reshared on social media numerous times a year ever since.  i

The post says: “If I’m coming at you in a bloody great big tractor with 20 tons behind me on a single track road, do me and yourself a favour and STOP for one second, either move as far over to your side of the road or just step on to the verge if there is one, so I can pass safely, do not just continue at full speed and then piss and moan as you go past because if it goes wrong you’ll end up being pressure washed off a tractor wheel.

“Unfortunately for you we take all your space and we can’t help it, so unless you want to lend a hand either changing a tyre that’s blown out or shovelling up a spillage, then we’re not dropping our wheels into drainage grips so that you can continue your bicycle ride.

“Cars, horse riders and runners are capable of it, I seem to be missing something with cyclists, I presume either you don’t want to get your special bike dirty, you’re trying to beat your PB or more than likely you’re just a complete cock in general."

Even more worryingly, in 2021, a farmer attacked a cyclist by throwing a billhook at his bike following a road rage incident in which he became enraged because the man was not using a cycle lane. 

The cyclist shouted at the farmer in his VW Transporter that he had passed him too close, to which the farmer replied: “Well get on the cycle path then!”

He decided to follow the driver back to his nearby farm to ask him why he was so rude, when the farmer grabbed a billhook - which is used to trim tree saplings - and hurled it towards the cyclist, striking and damaging his £2,950 carbon framed Specialized Tarmac SL6 Sport Disc Road Bike.

Were you the cyclist involved in this incident? Email us at info [at] road.cc 

Adwitiya joined road.cc in 2023 as a news writer after graduating with a masters in journalism from Cardiff University. His dissertation focused on active travel, which soon threw him into the deep end of covering everything related to the two-wheeled tool, and now cycling is as big a part of his life as guitars and football. He has previously covered local and national politics for Voice Wales, and also likes to writes about science, tech and the environment, if he can find the time. Living right next to the Taff trail in the Welsh capital, you can find him trying to tackle the brutal climbs in the valleys.

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113 comments

Avatar
wtjs | 2 weeks ago
3 likes

I have spent approximately 56 years of my life camping 'illegally', and you often have to expect trouble from the 'get orf moi laand' brigade, so you camp covertly. My most recent spots were on the Way of the Roses last autumn. I have been lucky so far in avoiding nutters like this 'farmer', and intend to ignore the nutters below with their stupid 'use official campsites' nonsense.

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disherwood | 2 weeks ago
0 likes

Lewis winks.... Couldn't disagree more.... Your approach is bad for wild camping..... Too entitled.....
You expect the farmer to follow rules of decency but don't magnify the failure of the camper to seek permission..... Campsites nearby.... Use them

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disherwood | 2 weeks ago
0 likes

I don't see a problem.... Campers be respectful.... Discrete.... Then you'll suffer no trouble

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Greenpedal | 3 weeks ago
0 likes

Is the cyclist in question deliberately stealth camping or just too tight to pay?
If it's the former he needs to be more military in his approach. If it's the latter, tough luck.

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disherwood replied to Greenpedal | 2 weeks ago
0 likes

Agreed

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dogenzenji | 3 weeks ago
0 likes

What a shitty situation.

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ribena | 3 weeks ago
3 likes

Couldn't that be fatal? It must be full of pathogens and bacteria. 

I remember from Jackass they said the most seriously ill or injured anyone got was Steve-O when he swam in some stagnant water that had manure run off in it.

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Hivizalways | 3 weeks ago
1 like

No sympathy. Cyclists are their own worst enemies, riding 3 and 4 abreast so they can chat, ignoring cycle lanes and holding up road fund paying vehicles, running red lights, not stopping at zebra crossings or stop signs, the list goes on!

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quiff replied to Hivizalways | 3 weeks ago
6 likes

Don't feed it!

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hawkinspeter replied to Hivizalways | 3 weeks ago
11 likes
Hivizalways wrote:

No sympathy. Cyclists are their own worst enemies, riding 3 and 4 abreast so they can chat, ignoring cycle lanes and holding up road fund paying vehicles, running red lights, not stopping at zebra crossings or stop signs, the list goes on!

I heard that they eat babies, pee in swimming pools and don't return supermarket trolleys

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perce replied to hawkinspeter | 3 weeks ago
8 likes

Don't return supermarket trolleys? Disgusting.

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chrisonabike replied to hawkinspeter | 3 weeks ago
3 likes

If you ever see one, be sure to report it to the relevant authorities.  They've probably got complacent for lack of reports.

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john_smith replied to chrisonabike | 3 weeks ago
2 likes

The last reported sighting of a cyclist around here was in 1953, and there seems to have been a lot of doubt about the credibility of the person who filed the report. 

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perce replied to Hivizalways | 3 weeks ago
4 likes

I had to buy a hat stretcher last week because one of my hats had shrunk. My favourite as well. Anyway it seems to have done the trick and it seems to fit ok now. I think you are supposed to steam the hat before you use the stretcher but I was a bit concerned it might go out of shape so I didn't bother. It seems ok anyway so I'm quite pleased about it. I still want to buy another hat though, you can't have too many hats.

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john_smith replied to perce | 3 weeks ago
2 likes

Are you sure your hat had shrunk though? I once had an aunt who had a problem similar to yours. She stretched all her hats (I can't remember whether she steamed them or not) and was very satisfied with the results---for about three weeks, until all her hats appeared to start growing again. It turned out that her head had swollen because of the warm, humid weather. When the the weather turned her head returned to its original size. You could try checking whether your other hats have shrunk too. That should give you a clue as to what's going on.

 

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perce replied to john_smith | 3 weeks ago
4 likes

No it's just the one hat, all the others, which have been stored better, are ok. Thanks for the suggestion though. Very helpful.

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john_smith replied to Hivizalways | 3 weeks ago
2 likes

There are peregrine falcons in the tower of the church at the end of our road. They've been shouting all afteroon. What I assume was a juvenile was shouting its head off one day last week. It sounded like the others but its voice was a bit shriller and hoarser. I presume it was one of this year's brood. It's amazing how fast they grow up.

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spen | 3 weeks ago
6 likes

Fly camping, stealth camping, trespass or whatever you want to call it will only get worse now that so many campsite require on line booking, multi night minimum stays and frankly extortionate cost for the pleasure of putting up a tent in a poorly maintained field with hopelessly primitive and inadequate facilities. While camping was in the past something that could be done almost on the spur of the moment it is now overly regimented and frankly heading towards collective suicide

Avatar
polainm | 3 weeks ago
8 likes

I lived in countryside for 20 years and went to school with farmers' children. Some are OK, most seriously lack social skills. 

The comments about UK campsites are very true; all geared up for motorhoming, very very few for cycle touring. Added to this the UK is a vile toxic country of cyclist haters, I'm not surprised by this tractor driver's toxic assault. 

I have experienced same issues with farm shops, who don't like 'hoards of club cyclists taking over their drivers' tea room'.

15 riders spending £15 each is £225, many spend more and, if the cafe is good, more than one club ride will visit in a day.

It's easy for a cafe to take in £4,000 of business over a weekend just from cyclists. 

So I suggest this, as my local club does, rank the cafes and cease visiting the ones who have their tractor drivers sh1t all over touring cyclists....

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Scarey | 3 weeks ago
2 likes

Have to say both biker and farmer are way out of line! IF your going to camp on anyone else's land, you have to ask FIRST; if you don't, you deserve some measure of unmannerly behaviour. The farmer's behaviour was inexcusable. Personally, I've always found farmers agreeable, even helpful.

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john_smith replied to Scarey | 3 weeks ago
10 likes

Funny world you inhabit. If I discovered someone camping on my land and I had a problem with it, I'd politely ask him to leave. No unmannerliness needed.

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Paul J replied to Scarey | 3 weeks ago
7 likes

Only one of them was guilty of an offence though. The farmer.

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Matthew Acton-Varian replied to Paul J | 3 weeks ago
0 likes

Unfortunately the cyclist was tresspassing. Not an offence against criminal law, but one against civil law. There is more to law than just the former.

In Scotland, the Right to Roam is much stronger and in this instance would not have come under tresspass. The incident happened in Devon. Even in an area of protected natural beauty, the public access laws are very limited.

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chrisonabike replied to Matthew Acton-Varian | 3 weeks ago
3 likes

Per notes below and elsewhere (just reporting - not a lawyer...) a) the trespasser has to be asked to leave (or presumably there are sufficient "get orf moi land" signs and fences around everwhere that you couldn't claim innocent mistake) b) any response must be reasonable and proportionate (BBB has a video on that one - though different case?) c) there is a suggestion that the property owner has to show some "loss" (I wasn't aware of that one).

b) certainly doesn't apply and I'm unclear there's any evidence of a) or c).

Luckily I stay in Scotland but yes, England is quite a different proposition, even in "open country" / access land (see e.g. the contested case of Dartmoor) as you say.

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mdavidford replied to chrisonabike | 3 weeks ago
2 likes

My understanding is the 'loss' bit is only relevant if they want to sue for damages. They're entitled to use 'reasonable force' to remove you from the property, loss or no loss.

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Paul J replied to Matthew Acton-Varian | 3 weeks ago
6 likes
Matthew Acton-Varian wrote:

Unfortunately the cyclist was tresspassing. Not an offence against criminal law, but one against civil law. There is more to law than just the former.

What civil law? If someone is on your land, does no damage, and leaves when asked, exactly what can you sue them for? Nothing...

The farmer on the other hand is guilty of both criminal offences, and damage for which the cyclist surely will be able to pursue a civil claim for (if it's worth the costs).

The farmer is the guilty one here, not the cyclist. Civil or criminal.

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giff77 replied to Matthew Acton-Varian | 3 weeks ago
2 likes

It's not an offence. It's a tort. The farmer didn't suffer any financial loss which would have allowed him to seek recompense. 

In Scotland it is becoming more difficult to roam in the highlands as many estates are now owned by overseas companies/individuals who have little understanding of the freedom's allowed. Even then if you damaged or harmed land/livestock while camping you could still end up being sued. Lomond and Trossochs National Park has also banned wild camping around the shores of  Loch Lomond. 

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mdavidford replied to giff77 | 3 weeks ago
3 likes

Mmmm - torte...

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disherwood replied to Paul J | 2 weeks ago
0 likes

Semantics..... The camper committed an offence that offended the land owner.... Play with words like a smart Alec, get consequences

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mdavidford replied to disherwood | 2 weeks ago
1 like
disherwood wrote:

Play with words like a smart Alec, get consequences

Consequences like a random anonymous person posting a sniffy reply. That'll learn 'em.

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