DO YOU REMEMBER THIS RACE? The one where the old lady insisted that you walked the footpath thru' her field to avoid disturbing her cattle? Well here's some information that i've received from the highways authority legal depatment regarding our rights-
“There is control in the Road Traffic Act 1988 over cycle racing on public ways (including bridleways) and on the use of footpaths and bridleways for motor cycle trials. However there is no restriction on the use of public highways for races on foot though of course there is a need to respect other traffic on such highways which might be met.
In using cross field paths there is the practical consideration of keeping to the path and not straying on to the landowner's property. Any path is likely to be narrow and to pass other ramblers or fellow racers may mean wandering off the path. That in itself might create tensions. Also if there are to be large numbers of people running across fields where livestock are kept there might be an unpredictable impact upon the disposition of the animals. In the case of an organised event it would therefore make sense and would be a matter of common courtesy to tell the farmers in advance so that they might make alternative arrangements should they wish.
Section 2 of the Animals Act 1971 makes the keeper of an animal liable for damages if it injures another person provided that the keeper was aware of the animal's tendency to cause injury. The liability does not arise if the injury is the fault of the injured party. Runners might of cause "spook" animals by their activity and that is good reason to warn the farmer of their intentions in advance to mitigate any risk.
Consideration should be given by event organisers whether they should seek an order under section 16A of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 to restrict traffic including pedestrians to enable the event to take place.”
The Council have been very helpful and I hope that this helps you understand your rights and responsibilities when using footpaths. At the end of the day, we're just enjoying the countryside in the most harmless of ways. Whilst animal issues can be very real, I feel that we are all responsible people and will do all that we can to avoid upsetting livestock. I'll ask the landowner to keep the animals in if we use this particular path next year.