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How people risk their lives on the military training estate

We want people to enjoy the military training estate, but it can be a dangerous place if you don't follow the rules. There are a number of ways you can put your life at risk and here's a few of the most common.

Picking up military debris – even though it might explode!

We know that pieces of twisted metal sticking up from the soil look interesting. They might even be the remains of some munitions. This might seem pretty cool...until they blow up in your hands.

The unexploded ordnance warning signs are very clear. [Crown Copyright, MOD2018]
The unexploded ordnance warning signs are very clear. [Crown Copyright, MOD2018]
When you’re out and about on a military training area, don’t pick anything up. Although we do our best to clear up ordnance, some does get missed and it can be dangerous. Don’t touch anything and keep a close eye on children and pets.

Don't touch any military debris you may see. It might be unexploded ordnance. [Crown Copyright, MOD]
Don't touch any military debris you may see. It might be unexploded ordnance. [Crown Copyright, MOD]
Driving wherever you want

You might think your big 4x4 can handle whatever our terrain can throw at it, but some of these tracks are used by armoured and tracked vehicles. Just because a Warrior or Scimitar can get round doesn't mean your car can.

Dangerous driving might not just dent your pride, it could end in death - though in this case the driver was unhurt. [Crown Copyright/MOD]
The picture above was taken on Salisbury Plain. The person had been driving up the knife edge in the top left of the picture. As he got to the top he flipped backwards onto the roof and was then pulled back down the slope by his mate. He didn’t suffer any injuries apart from a big dent to his pride, although the outcome could have been very different.

Stick to Public Rights of Way and stay at home in bad weather. [Copyright Neil Craven, Landmarc Support Services]
Driving dangerously is an invitation to disaster anywhere, but it could be even worse on the training estate. Many roads on MOD land are uneven and you never know what’s around the corner – you might crash into a troop of soldiers or even a tank. And trust us, the tank will win.

Plenty of people driving on MOD land do so safely and in accordance with the laws. Those who don’t are taking their lives in their hands. If you’re driving on the military training estate, stick to Public Rights of Way or Permissive Rights of Way that are open to the public, and drive sensibly and carefully.

Stay safe by obeying the signs and sticking to permitted routes [Crown Copyright, MOD]
Ignoring the red flags and wandering into a live firing area

Don’t be like the teenagers who ignored the red flags and rode their quad bikes onto the training estate, popping up just behind the targets as a group of soldiers was about to start firing at them.

Red flags or lights signal that the land is being used for life threatening activities and that public access is completely prohibited. Armoured vehicles, bullets, pyrotechnics and fast moving vehicles are all a threat.

Cartoon from Reynolds News, 1941, showing someone picnicing in front of a line of tanks

You could probably excuse a lack of knowledge about the dangers in 1941 but in 2018– with better technology and instant access to information – there is no excuse for ignoring the messages that are out there or not being aware of the inherent dangers on the military training estate. Firing times for many sites are posted online, and should be correct, but there are sometimes changes so what you see on the ground takes precedence. If the firing times online say the site is open, but a red flag says it’s closed, it’s closed!

We've heard some interesting excuses for ignoring the rules over the years. Check back next week for a countdown of some of the most ridiculous things people have said when they're caught breaking the rules.

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  1. Comment by Paul Carter posted on

    Great outline on what can happen. We’ve shared and passed the info on to Salisbury Plain 4x4and Wiltshire Byways FB group

  2. Comment by Matt B posted on

    It would be great if there was a campaign for drivers to slow down & show patience around walkers, cyclists and horse riders and adhere to the speed limits. I have been riding & walking around Salisbury Plain for a number of years now and an increasing number of drivers seem to treat it as their own personal racetrack, conducting dangerous overtakes on narrow tracks & roads, with the majority not even bothering to slow down when they come up behind you. This is particularly dangerous, when on the non tarmac tracks and also in poor weather, as you cannot hear them approach.

    Thank you to those who are courteous.

  3. Comment by Joan Barnett posted on

    I am the editor of a local Parish Magazine and as our readers all live around the edge of the plain and may not necessarily log into your account I have included this timely reminder of yours in this month's issue. I hope it is OK . Not everyone checks your digital content and many people are moving into the area and may not be aware of the danger on the plain.
    Looking forward to reading, " some of the most ridiculous things people have said when they're caught breaking the rules" :))

  4. Comment by george posted on

    In the 3rd down illustration / photo - the "knife edge" (where the 4x4 had turned over) is in the top left of the pic - not top right.

  5. Comment by David Natolie posted on

    Where is the local contact information for MOD lands around Mytchett namely Mytchett Lake Road GU12 5RQ?
    Someone is dumping/ has dumped a large quantity of blue nitrous oxide cylinders just of the road! Been building up for months.


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