Walk on the Wild Side
The public has a right of access to about 500 sq km of Access Land in the National Park. This includes moors, heaths, commons, unimproved hills and dalesides and land above 600m. Here you can wander at will without keeping to public paths.
The freedom to roam on open country extends to activities such as walking, bird watching, climbing and running. On this land you will come across the wilder parts of the National Park; much of the land is unenclosed giving a feeling of escape and exploration and the views are far-reaching. These areas are important for their wildlife and habitats and are inspirational.
There is a history of access in the Peak District. The campaigns for access contributed towards the setting up of the UK's first National Park and open access. Open access was introduced by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 in the Peak District on 19th September 2004. Sometimes open access land is referred to as CRoW land in recognition of the legislation that gave us these rights.
An event was held to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the introduction of open access.
Where you can go
Land mapped as open access is shown in a yellow wash on the Ordnance Survey Explorer maps and on Natural England's website. From time to time, new areas of access land are dedicated.
This symbol is used to show that land is access land. You will find it on access points which provide for a means of entry including wherever public rights of way meet access land.
Some land is excepted from open access. This includes buildings, land up to 20m from dwellings and farm livestock buildings, gardens, active quarries and when land is ploughed or has crops on. The legislation details all exceptions.
There are also other restrictions and exclusions which may exist. Restrictions on land management, public safety, fire prevention and conservation grounds are shown on Natural England's website. Dogs may also be excluded from grouse moors and where there is lambing. Landowners may also apply to close their land for up to 28 days a year and which can be at short notice so it's always worth checking to see whether there are any updates to Natural England's website. You can view the restrictions that are notified annually.
If in any doubt. please respect any signage that you see on site. You can also contact the Open Access Contact Centre at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 0845 1003298.
What you can do
The right of access is for those on foot for open-air recreation. Some activities are not included. This includes driving a vehicle, riding a bike, using a boat, bathing, lighting fires, shooting, fishing, camping, paragliding, organized games, commercial activities, intentionally damaging wildlife, foraging, using a metal detector or disrupting any legal activity. The legislation details all exclusions.
The rights for open air recreation on open access land are for responsible access so when using these rights please consider any impacts you may have on others and the environment. If in any doubt then please contact the Access Team at the National Park Authority or the landowner to discuss how impacts may be reduced.
Dogs are excluded from many grouse moors. Details are shown on Natural England's Website. This does not apply to guide dogs and hearing dogs and those kept under close control on public rights of way. Public rights of way are shown in green on OS Explorer.
Elsewhere on access land, dogs are required to be on a short lead from 1st March to 31st July to protect ground nesting birds and also at any time where there is livestock. Please be a responsible owner.
Looking after Access
The Authority works with others to look after access and on the 10th anniversary of the introduction of open access set up an Access Fund for future improvements. If you would like to make a donation we would welcome your support.