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Open Access Land

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 ensures that people have the right of access (on foot) to over 350,000 hectares of open country and registered common land.open_access


The total area with rights of access, including public forests, is 451,000 hectares (22% of Wales).  This is on top of significant areas of local permissive access, many beaches, towpaths and about 25,000 miles of public rights of way.



Your Rights 

It is the right to go on foot onto access land – open country (mountain, moor, heath and down), registered common land and any other land that owners dedicate as access land.

It includes most open-air recreational activities carried out on foot, like walking, sightseeing, bird watching, climbing and running.


It enables 'open access', which means that people will be able to wander freely across 'access land' and won't have to stick to paths.

In many places, existing public rights of way will lead to and cross open access areas and access land can be reached at access points: a stile or gate; a bridge or stepping stones; or a clear opening in a wall, fence or hedge.

You DO NOT have rights to

It doesn't include riding a horse or a bicycle, or driving a vehicle, or certain other activities such as camping, swimming or caving – but these limitations do not prevent an owner or occupier of land allowing these activities.

There are special rules about the control of dogs on access land; and there is no right to take any other animals onto the land. For example, dogs must be kept on short leads where there is livestock present.

Access may sometimes be restricted for reasons such as land or livestock management or nature conservation, or to avoid danger to the public from activities on the land.

There are places where the public cannot go, even if they are within mapped areas of access land – the 'excepted areas' include buildings, gardens, quarries and arable land.


The CROW Act adds about 350,000 hectares of open country and registered common land to the area that was available previously.  Dedication of the National Assembly of Wales' freehold woodland, managed by the Forestry Commission, added about another 100,000 hectares. Some other landowners have opened their land in the same way.


For more information about Open Access Land please visit the National Resources Wales website.