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FAQs - Access land

Wild side

Open Access Land FAQs

Who can use open access land?

Everyone is welcome to walk on the wilder, open spaces of Britain’s mountains, moors, commons, heath and downland.

Land open for public access symbolHow do I know which areas are open access land?

Land mapped as open access is shown on the Ordnance Survey Explorer maps and the online maps on the Natural England website. At key entry points, open access land will normally be indicated by this symbol.

What can I do on open access land?

You can do most recreational activities that are carried out on foot, such as walking, running, climbing, picnicking, photography and bird watching.

What can’t I do on open access land?

You cannot:

  • cycle or horse ride except on existing bridleways
  • take vehicles and motorcycles onto open access land
  • camp, light a fire, shoot, fish or metal detect
  • swim, canoe, sail, paraglide or hang-glide
  • undertake commercial activities or organized games without the approval of the landowner
  • take anything from the land, damage wildlife or property or disrupt lawful activity.

See our Byelaws Relating to Access Land for more information.

Can I take a dog on open access land?

Yes, but you must use a fixed lead of no more than 2 metres from 1 March to 31 July in order to protect ground-nesting birds and at all times near livestock. On grouse moors and during the lambing season, dogs may be excluded but this does not affect the public footpaths and bridleways. Please look out for signs that will explain this. You can also check on the Natural England website, which has up-to-date information about dog restrictions.

Can I always walk on open access land?

Not always. Farmers and landowners have the right to close their land sometimes. This may be for land management, public safety, or conservation reasons. Open access land may also be closed at times of exceptional fire risk. Please take notice of any signs showing that land is closed. You can also check on the Natural England website or for restrictions that are notified annually.

Can I walk wherever I want?

Some land, such as gardens, buildings and working quarries, is excluded from the ‘right to roam’.

More information

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