"Right To Roam" -
correctly Open Access Land
What is commonly known as the
"Right to Roam" stems from the provisions of the Countryside and
Rights of Way Act 2000 and subsequent Commencement orders.
Full details can be seen on the Natural
From 31 October 2005, members of
the public became entitled to walk across some of the best countryside in
England. The Natural
England website gives access to detailed maps of areas where the
"Right to Roam" now exist.
New OS maps also designate the
areas as follows:
Access Land Boundary and
Access Land in Wooded Areas
Rights of Way are not affected.
However, do not run away with
the idea that "Right to Roam" means you can go exactly where you
like when you like.
The right does not extend to
horseriders, cyclists or vehicles.
Landowners will still be able
to close the land for up to 28 days a year - see Footpath
Gardens, parks and cultivated
land are excluded.
You can only walk a dog on
existing Rights of Way.
In essence, it applies to
mountain, moor, heath, down and registered common land. However historical
footpaths have arisen for a reason, usually from the easiest/driest route
across a given area. It may therefore be worth asking yourself whether there
is actually much point in wandering off these tracks for the sake of it. If
the track is one which has been specially strengthened
(stone/chippings/boarding etc) going off track may damage areas.
There is a little known sting in
the tail of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act
It also imposed a deadline of 1
January 2026, after which it will not be possible to apply for footpaths and
bridleways, or higher rights, to be added to the definitive map on the basis
of historical documentary evidence (historical is classed as pre-1949). The
introduction of the cut-off date is aimed at bringing clarity for landowners
and users of the countryside about what rights actually exist. Further
information is contained on the Natural
It is believed there are many
Rights of Way which are not clearly defined on any maps, even though they
might have have waymarkers on the ground.
The Government had established
The Discovering Lost Ways (DLW) project to identify Rights of Way at risk
but this has now been abandoned. Further information is given on the Ramblers
Another organisation has also
been established, Unrecorded
Ways to ensure these paths with the potential to become lost are saved.
All information on this
site is given in good faith and no liability is accepted in respect of any
damage, loss or injury which might result from acting on it.