open access land...
The Countryside Rights of Way (CROW) Act has made the most significant change to land access for generations. It gives you the right to walk freely on vast areas of countryside in England and Wales - around one million hectares (4,000 square miles) - without keeping to public paths, for activities like walking, bird-watching, climbing and running. We call this access land.
Questions & answers
Where can I walk?
Where you see the open access symbol - a walker in brown on a white background - it means the land is usually open for public access on foot. Access areas are normally mountain, moor, heath, down, registered common land, and land that has been dedicated such as the estates of large organisations such as the Forestry Commission. You can find out where all open access land is by visiting the Countryside Access website or using current OS Explorer maps.
Does it mean I can walk wherever I want?
No it doesn't. You're welcome to walk on open access land but there is not a ‘right to roam' through places such as gardens, buildings and working quarries. CROW does extend areas available for walking. In Cumbria, access land covers 2,500 square kilometres. You can, of course, still walk on permitted paths and rights of way. Access can be restricted for nature conservation, land management, and public safety purposes. Before starting out we would advise that you check the Countryside Access website for current information.
What can I do on access land?
Walk, run or climb, picnic, take photographs or paint, view historic remains, watch wildlife. Cycling, horse riding and driving are not allowed unless these activities already take place legally. You also cannot camp in the new open areas, swim or go boating.
Can I take a dog?
Yes, in many areas, if kept under close control. Each year from 1 March to 31 July dogs must be on a two-metre lead so that breeding animals and birds are not disturbed. Leads should also be used where there is livestock.
Do I need special equipment?
Because this is open upland terrain you should have sturdy footwear and weatherproof clothes. Carry extra layers in case it turns cold, a map and compass, and know how to use them. Mobile phone coverage is patchy in Cumbria's remote areas so make sure someone knows where you are going and when you are due back.
Visitors to access land are primarily responsible for their own safety, and for taking care of any children or dogs who accompany them. It is always worth checking weather forecasts before setting out by calling the Lake District National Park's Weatherline service 0870 055 0575 or visiting the Weatherline website (opens in new window).
Where can I go in Cumbria?
Get up-to-date Ordnance Survey Explorer maps, available at information centres, outdoor clothing and equipment stores and bookshops, or direct from Ordnance Survey on 0845 200 2712. The extent of access land is shown clearly on the revised maps with a light yellow tint. You can find maps illustrating the coverage of Cumbria's access land on the Countryside Access website.
How can I find out if there are any restrictions to access land?
From time to time, access may be restricted in certain areas to protect wildlife, farm livestock, or yourself. This might be for land management, public safety, fire prevention, or nature and heritage conservation. Restrictions can be seen on Countryside Access (opens in new window) and are updated daily. Please take notice of any signs showing land is closed. Public rights of way are not affected by these local access restrictions.
This is land where rights of access are NOT available at any time, even if it appears on maps of access land:
Buildings and land attached to them, for example courtyards, Land within 20 metres of a house, or a building containing livestock, Parks and gardens, Land under structures, Quarries and other active mineral workings, Railways and tramways, Golf and race courses, Aerodromes, Land under development, Arable land, Temporary livestock pens, Racehorse training gallops, Land under military byelaws.