I'm not at all sure about this 'right to roam' business. It's all very well opening up large areas of Britain's countryside and moorland, but do the public at large really know what they are letting themselves in for by straying from well-trodden paths?

I can say with almost 100 per cent certainty that I will not be taking advantage of the open access for which so many people have fought for so long.

I will definitely not be heading off across bogs and heather, through woods and over fields, not knowing what I might come across along the way.

The last time I found myself in that type of situation it was as enjoyable as having a flat tyre on a remote stretch of the M62 at 3am.

It was a few years ago, before the children came along. My husband and I had gone off for a walk on Fylingdales moor near Whitby, to photograph the golf ball-shaped early warning station before it was taken apart and replaced with another, less interesting structure.

Whenever we went walking we would follow a route set out in a guide book or, at the very least, a clearly-defined right of way on a map. But, having failed to find either close to the base, we set out somewhat aimlessly.

Our 'walk' was riddled with accidents - most involving hidden ditches and hollows. It was raining and trying to walk through the thick, wet heather was like swimming in treacle.

We didn't know where we were going, and ploughed across the bleak moorland hoping we might, by some miracle, stumble on a footpath. But we didn't. And worse was to come when the mist came down. It was more American Werewolf In London than Heartbeat Country, I can tell you.

Getting back to civilisation - after three hours a cart track would have filled that slot - was no mean feat. And when we came across the wire fence of the warning station, we were jubilant. I almost wept when, wet and bedraggled, we made it back to the road.

I was reminded of this incident when, a couple of weeks ago, I attempted to take the children on a short cut across a hillside to get back to the car as it started to rain heavily. It looked reasonable from a distance but the bracken was taller than both my daughters, and there were more than a few moments of blind panic on my part. It would have been quicker sticking to the winding footpath.

I can't understand why people want to tramp as they please, there are all sorts of pitfalls - thick undergrowth, bogs - and terrain more suited to an SAS training session than an afternoon ramble. Walks along well-used, bona fide rights of way are not only easy underfoot, but they often include villages or hamlets with a pub or shop that offer the walker refreshment.

You are also more likely to see other people on well-used routes. I don't have a herd mentality but I hate being miles from anywhere and anyone. If I am ever stuck in a remote place with no sign of life other than birdsong, I always assume a psychopathic axe murderer is watching my every move.

Never again do I intend to venture off the beaten track. If it is not mapped out and published in a guidebook, then I'm not going. Call me unadventurous, but I don't want the right to roam. Leave that to sheep.

Updated: 09:15 Tuesday, June 21, 2005