Access land explained
QCan Trail please clarify for me what access land is, and whether there are any times I can’t cross it? Thanks! Josie Fisher, via Facebook
Paul says Access land can be crossed without using footpaths, for activities including walking, climbing and fell running. On OS Explorer maps access land in England and Wales is denoted by a yellow-shaded area with a tan-coloured border.
It’s not permissible to cycle on access land unless the landowner allows it or there’s a bridle path, local right of access or byway. Neither can you legally wild camp (unless in Scotland) or light fires there. Dogs must be kept on leads no more than two metres long on access land between March 1 and July 31 to protect ground-nesting birds, and must always be on a lead in fields containing livestock.
Landowners may close access land for up to 28 days per year but, even then, you are allowed to use footpaths to cross that land. In special circumstances, such as wild fire or disease risk, use common sense and stay clear if advised.
Further, even if it appears as open access land on a map, ‘excepted land’ must be avoided. Such land includes houses, golf courses, working quarries, gardens, farm crops, railways and airfields. Unless there are clearly signed footpaths, which you must then use.
■ Paul is co-founder of the UNS – a charity providing navigation courses for hillwalkers, with all profits going back into the hills.
Trail readers can currently enjoy 10% off the School’s weekend navigation courses! Simply go to www.ultimatenavigationschool. co.uk and enter ‘trail18s’ at the checkout for your discount.