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Open Access Land

Open Access Land1

Open Access Land2

Open Access Land3

In May 2005, part of the Countryside and Rights of Way (CROW) Act 2000 came into force, giving people new rights of access on foot to areas mapped as ‘open country’ and registered common land.

The following information provides a summary of your rights. However, the Natural Resources Wales has an extensive website with everything you need to know about open access, including maps of where you can go and important information about exclusions and restrictions.

What is Access Land?

Access Land is mostly open country and registered common land. Some areas of forest, mainly owned by Natural Resources Wales, have also been ‘dedicated’ as Access Land.

Although the public are allowed free access to these areas of land on foot landowners and tenants are able to restrict and exclude public access to Access Land in certain circumstances.

What can I do on Access Land?

The CROW Act allows you to walk freely on Access Land and you do not have to stick to linear routes (such as footpaths or bridleways) unless you want to. Permitted activities include:

  • walking or running
  • sightseeing
  • bird or wildlife watching
  • picnicking
  • climbing

However, activities such as horse riding, camping, swimming and cycling are not allowed. Horse riders, cyclists and motor vehicles must keep to existing rights of way.

The CROW access rights do not affect rights or activities that already exist e.g. horse riding on certain urban commons, and other activities may be permitted with the permission of the landowner.

How will I know where I can go?

Access Land is clearly marked on Ordnance Survey Explorer (1:25,000) maps. The CROW access areas are shaded yellow with a brown border and dedicated forestry land is shown in pale green with a brown border.

Remember to look out for the access symbol signpost while out walking as this shows that the land is open for public access on foot. There are 5768 hectares of Access Land available in Bridgend.

Can I walk wherever I like?

No. Some areas or types of land are exempt from the new access rights, and although these areas of land may be mapped as Access Land, the new right will not apply. Examples include land within 20 metres of a house, parks and gardens, golf courses and aerodromes.

Can I take my dog on Access Land?

Dogs are normally allowed on Access Land but there are some restrictions designed to minimise any new impact on wildlife and livestock.

Dogs must always be kept under close control on Access Land or public rights of way. Between 1st March and 31st July, or at any other time when in the vicinity of livestock, dogs must by kept on short fixed leads of no more than two metres in length on Access Land. Landowners or occupiers can also exclude or restrict dogs for temporary periods (such as during lambing) and NRW has the power to restrict dogs for nature conservation purposes.

None of the other restrictions apply to dogs on public rights of way.


Last Updated: 24/07/2015
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