Open Access

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.

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 and registered common land.

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.

  • 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.

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.

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.

Get up-to-date Ordnance Survey Explorer maps OL4, OL5, OL6 and OL7 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.

We are also recommending specific areas and walks, often where new access is available.

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.

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