Making the most of your access rights with The Ramblers

Eight hundred years ago the Charter of the Forest granted ordinary people the right to access royal forests. This was the first step in a campaign spanning centuries seeking the legal guarantee of freedom for people to access our beautiful landscapes. 

Do you know your access rights?

There have been many milestones in the journey to increase access and the right to roam since this seminal moment; the Kinder Mass Trespass, the creation of National Parks, the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, the Land Reform (Scotland) Act, the Marine and Coastal Access Act, the opening of the Wales Coast Path, all of which have helped to increase the places people can walk.


But are you confident in knowing where you can and can’t walk and aware of your rights and responsibilities?


In England and Wales we have a world renowned network of footpaths which everyone has the right to walk on. These paths are known as “public rights of way”. We also have the right, in certain places, to walk off these paths, across privately owned land. This is known as “open access”. Open access gives you the chance to walk freely, explore wild, open landscapes and find your own way.


The England Coast Path, due to be completed in 2020, is giving us a right of access to many areas between the path and the sea. This area is known as the coastal margin and allows people to explore dunes, cliff slopes and beaches, right up to the water’s edge.


The very nature of walking is simple, putting one foot in front of the other. But knowing where you can and can’t walk, and what you can and can’t do, can sometimes be confusing. 

To help, the Ramblers has produced a PDF guide, giving outdoor enthusiasts all the information they need to make the most of these rights and explore open access land. So download the mobile-friendly guide, grab a map and go walking!


But the Ramblers isn’t just celebrating the anniversary of the Charter of the Forest by encouraging more people to make the most of their rights. The organisation is also looking forward to the next 800 years of access.


It may surprise you that today only 40% of woodland in England and Wales is accessible to the public, and much of this doesn’t have a permanent right of access, meaning it could be closed off at any time. A recent YouGov survey conducted by the Ramblers revealed that people want increased access to woods and forests more than any other type of land – who doesn’t love a walk in the woods?


In response, the Ramblers are calling on the government to improve access to the beautiful woodlands of England and Wales. Add your voice to this call by signing the petition here


This anniversary really brings to life the long history of the struggle for greater access to the countryside, a mission that is very close to many people’s hearts. But what do we want for the next 800 years? Now is your chance to help shape the future of access. Share your views in the Ramblers’ survey here.


Posted By

the Ramblers


The Ramblers is Britain’s largest organisation for walkers with over 100,000 members across England, Scotland and Wales.


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