CROW sign at Naddles Crag copyright Michael Turner>

Open Access and CROW

The Countryside Rights of Way (CROW) Act is one of the biggest changes to rural life for generations.

What does CROW allow me to do?

It gives you the right to walk freely on vast areas of countryside in England and Wales – around one million hectares (4,000 square miles) – without keeping to public paths, for activities like walking, bird-watching, climbing and running. We call this access land.

Where can I walk?

Open access symbol - brown man on white circle

Where you see the open access symbol – a walker in brown on a white background – it means the land is usually open for public access on foot.

Access areas are normally mountain, moor, heath and down and registered common land.

Does it mean I can walk wherever I want?

No it doesn’t. You’re welcome to walk on open access land but there is not a ‘right to roam’ through places such as gardens, buildings and working quarries.

CROW does extend areas available for walking. In the Lake District, access land covers nearly 55 per cent of the National Park, that’s around 500 square miles. You can, of course, still walk on permitted paths and rights of way.

What can I do on the access land?

  • walk, run or climb
  • picnic
  • take photographs or paint
  • view historic remains
  • watch wildlife

Cycling, horse riding and driving are not allowed unless these activities already take place legally. You also can’t camp in the new open areas, swim or go boating.

Can I take the dog?

Yes, in many areas, if kept under close control. From 1 March until 31 July, dogs must be on a two-metre lead, so that breeding animals and birds are not disturbed. Leads should also be used where there is livestock. Read more details on our page.

Walking boots

Do I need special equipment?

Yes, sturdy footwear and weatherproof clothes – carry extra layers in case it turns cold – a map and compass. Mobile phone coverage is patchy in the National Park’s remote areas, so make sure someone knows where you are going and when you are due back.

Visitors to access land are primarily responsible for their own safety, and for taking care of any children or dogs who accompany them.

It is always worth checking weather forecasts before setting out by calling 0844 846 2444 (Calls cost 7p per minute plus your phone company's access charge) or visiting the Weatherline website (opens in new window)

How can I find out more?

How can I find out if there are any restrictions to access land?

From time to time, access may be restricted in certain areas to protect wildlife, farm livestock, or yourself. This might be for land management, public safety, fire prevention, or nature and heritage conservation. Restrictions can be seen on Natural England's CRoW Access Index Map Search (opens in new window) and are updated daily.

Please take notice of any signs showing land is closed. Public rights of way are not affected by these local access restrictions.

Excepted Land

This is land where rights of access are NOT available at any time, even if it appears on maps of access land:

  • Buildings and land attached to them, for example courtyards
  • Land within 20 metres of a house, or a building containing livestock
  • Parks and gardens
  • Land under structures
  • Quarries and other active mineral workings
  • Railways and tramways
  • Golf and race courses
  • Aerodromes
  • Land under development
  • Arable land
  • Temporary livestock pens
  • Racehorse training gallops
  • Land under military byelaws

Need holiday accommodation?

Cottage near Coniston - copyright Charlie Hedley

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