The Brits surely have some strange laws.
How about this one: If a corpse is carried across your land on its way from the place of death to the place of burial then that path becomes a “corpse road” and anybody may use it.
I know there’s a saying “Only in America”, but this has got to be “Only in Britain”.
Most commonly, a path can be made a public right of way by history—some variation of all the collected customs by which, across centuries, walkers have asserted their rights to get from here to there. One of the most curious of these historical precedents is known as the “corpse road.”
British ramblers (for which read “hikers/trampers/trekkers”) are quite bolshie about public footpaths. There are literally thousands of such paths across both public and private land and ramblers’ organisations fight tooth and claw to not only keep them but re-establish long forgotten rights of way.
A post in Atlas Obscura highlighted this obscure piece of law:
“Most commonly, a path can be made a public right of way by history—some variation of all the collected customs by which, across centuries, walkers have asserted their rights to get from here to there. One of the most curious of these historical precedents is known as the “corpse road.”
“The dead don’t walk or talk, but they do have a history of laying down paths in England. Corpse roads—also called coffin routes, bier ways, lychways, burial roads, or church ways—were traditionally formed when the living passed a dead body over fields, moors, burns (little trickling streams), fells, and fens as the remains were transported from home, where people usually died, to their final resting places in a church’s burial grounds.
“The heathery heaths, muddy moors, and chalky downs of England are criss-crossed by tens of thousands of miles of public walking paths.
“Tramping along these lightly beaten paths over fields and uncultivated land is integral to the fabric of English society—and protected by a 2000 law that established the “right to roam” freely over the countryside and along ancient roads, even when the land is in private hands.
“But although 140,000 miles of paths are already established as public “rights of way,” there are many thousands more that could be accessible to the public, but haven’t yet been added to official maps.
Read more about this curious English custom at https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/ramblers-protect-rights-and-corpse-roads/
If you’d like to take a break from the rolling English road by rambling round the shire here are some excellent resources:
Long Distance Walking Association
Is there a legally enforceable minimum width to such a right of way?
I don’t know, not being a native Brit and a “rambler” as well. Interesting question though.