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John Kelly
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5 Walks In The Yorkshire Dales

 

 "Right To Roam" - more 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 England website

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 Tint

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 Closures page

  • 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 2000.

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 England website.

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 Association website.

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.