Open Access Land - England & Wales

Open Access Land - England & Wales

The Countryside & Rights of Way Act established Open Access Land in England & Wales

Open Access Land - England & Wales 

Open Access Land

In England & Wales under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW), the public can walk freely on mapped areas of mountain, moor, heath, downland and registered common land without having to stick to paths. Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 maps show Open Access areas. 

People across England now have approximately 865,000 hectares of land across which they can walk, ramble, run, explore, climb and watch wildlife as they are given the freedom to access land, without having to stay on paths.

This relative freedom does not amount to a 'right to roam', as it applies only to Open Access Areas.

The new rights, for which people have been campaigning for over 100 years, came into effect across all of England on 31 October 2005.


The access rights normally applying on open access land require dogs to be kept on a short lead (no more than two metres) between 1 March and 31 July to help protect ground nesting birds, and all year round when near farm animals. Restrictions may also apply sometimes for land management reasons, so check the Access and Fire Severity Maps on the website when planning your visits.

Ordnance Survey Maps

Ordnance Survey 1:25,000 maps were updated as part of the introduction of CROW so indicate designated Open Access Areas. The following example, from Southern Snowdonia, shows pale lemon shading with salmon border, indicating Open Access Areas, with 'normal' map colours for non-Open Access Areas. 

    (click image to enlarge - press ESC to close)
   ©Crown copyright and database rights Ordnance Survey licence number 100054073 2013

External Links


Thanks to Natural England for use of some text and use of photo.