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First anniversary of open door to explore

This is an archived press release

Tuesday 13 September 2005

13 September 2005

First anniversary of open door to explore

Walkers are celebrating the first anniversary of open access to the Peak District's wild country - which doubled their opportunities to explore.

Just a year ago on 19 September, the Peak District became the first National Park in the country to launch the Countryside Rights of Way (CRoW) Act, which gave the public new rights to walk on moors and heathland that had previously been closed.

The CRoW Act more than doubled the land available to walkers in the Peak District, from 249 sq km to 524 sq km or 37% of the National Park. Mostly in private ownership, these uplands with some of the best views in the area, now have nearly 1,300 access points (gates, stiles or open country) marked with the CRoW 'walking man' roundel.

Peak District National Park Authority chair Tony Hams said: "The Peak District has a long association with campaigns for greater access to the countryside. We were honoured to be the first National Park to benefit from the new access rights, and we are delighted to see people exploring areas completely new to them."

Terry Howard, chair of the 900-strong Sheffield Ramblers and of the 3,000-strong South Yorkshire and North East Derbyshire Ramblers Association, said: "It's given us fantastic opportunities to explore our local environment. We're able to visit sites of ancient crosses, stone circles, burial mounds and settlements that we've never had access to before. It's unbelievable the impact that it's made on walking opportunities."

Andrew McCloy chair of the Peak District Local Access Forum, representing landowners and farmers as well as recreational users, said: "It's gone remarkably smoothly. We've done our best to allay the fears of landowners and farmers and to encourage responsible access. But a lot of the success is down to the hard work of the National Park rangers and the goodwill of the landowners. We're very proud that we already had a lot of access in place voluntarily, and people looked to the Peak District as a successful model."

Some areas are still closed for safety reasons - for instance near shooting ranges - or occasionally for seasonal grouse shooting, and National Park officers also have the right to impose temporary restrictions if there is a fire risk or to protect wildlife.

Peak District National Park local access officer Mike Rhodes added: "It's gone really well, there have been far fewer problems than people envisaged, and we've generally been able to deal with them by talking to people. There are some areas such as Bamford Edge where usage has significantly increased, but others have been much quieter."

The new open access rights have been rolled out gradually throughout the country, with the South West the latest to join the ranks at the end of August. For all the latest information on areas available for open access visit www.countrysideaccess.gov.uk

This is an archived press release

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