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Open access land - 20 years on

Open access land - 20 years on

Mon 2nd March 2020

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, known as the CRoW Act is a United Kingdom Act of Parliament affecting England and Wales which came into force on 30 November 2000.

The act implements the so-called "right to roam" on certain upland and uncultivated areas of England and Wales (mountains, moors, heaths and downs that are privately owned. It also includes common land registered with the local council and some land around the England Coast Path). This land is known as ‘open access land’ or ‘access land’

It is hard to think that it is 20 years since this monumental change was introduced, all the 1:25k maps where updated to now show these areas. It really opened up many areas of the countryside.

What you can and cannot do

You can use access land for walking, running, watching wildlife and climbing.

There are certain activities you cannot usually do on open access land, including:

• horse-riding
• cycling
• camping
• taking animals other than dogs on to the land
• driving a vehicle (except mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs)
• water sports

But you can use access land for horse-riding and cycling if:

• the landowner allows it
• public bridleways or byways cross the land – horse riders and cyclists can ride along these
• there are local traditions, or rights, of access 

Dogs on open access land

You must keep your dog on a lead no more than 2 metres long on open access land:

• between 1 March and 31 July - to protect ground-nesting birds
• at all times around livestock
• On land next to the England Coast Path you must keep your dog under close control.

There may be other local or seasonal restrictions. These do not apply to public rights of way or assistance dogs.


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