Most of my forays into England's (and Wales' and Scotalnd's come to think of it) green parts involve stiles. The fields we visit most often are actually used for cattle through the spring and summer months and the public footpath routes are scattered with all sorts of stiles and gates. I don't really mind them, despite being no sort of athlete myself, I manage to get up and over with only slight loss of dignity and since it's usually only cows and dogs watching I don't see the harm. My only real grumble comes when there is no way for a dog to squeeze underneath - Monty is too big to lift at around 40kg and he refuses to clamber or jump unless there is guaranteed bunny on the other side! Ted isn't a problem since he sees any boundary as merely an interesting challenge to be tackled; over, under or through, he will find a way.
Since the advent of the small person in our lives, walking has had an added challenge as I've said before. We quickly realised how limiting a push chair could be and so moved on to a baby carrier - first a front mounted BabyBjorn and now a Bushbaby backpack. These make the outdoors much more accessible, even when stiles cross our path. A lot of extra caution is needed to climb over a stile with a baby on your back and you have to be very aware of overhanging trees and brambles (in fact He recently went out round our favourite route with a pair of secateurs and cleared the way!) but it is manageable, especially with two adults, one acting as a 'spotter'.
|This long grass will soon be feeding the cows|
I do know that I love being out in the countryside and would hate to be barred from it completely. For everyone's safety, we avoid close contact with farm animals - when they move in to 'our' fields for the summer, we move out to pastures new. The main reason being that Monty is scared stiff of cows, not too sure about sheep and terrified of horses while Ted sees all other creatures as potential food and/or a challenge to his personal dominion, regardless of size. He once got into a barking/mooing stand off with a cow through a fence! As a result, the fields above will soon be off limits to us until October when the cows go to their new homes...probably in someone's freezer! So, I guess it depends which side of the stile you are on and what role the countryside plays in your own everyday life. I quite like the countryside the way it is, stiles and all. I hope to eventually have my own bit of it and may have to deal with the general public walking across it. And one day, I will be elderly and I hope to still be enjoying those green fields and parks with the Montys and Teds of the future.