Open Access Frequently Asked Questions

What does open access land mean?

On open access land you are entitled to leave the path or track, and walk freely as you desire. This might be walking to reach a view point, or to practise navigation with compass bearings, for example.

What can you do on open access land?

With these new rights come responsibilities. The Countryside Code asks you to respect, protect and enjoy the countryside.

You can find out more by downloading a copy or following this link.

How do I know if a piece of land has any restrictions?

You should always check ahead for any restrictions, such as dog controls to protect nesting birds or during lambing time. There is an online facility to check the maps for open access land and any restrictions. Use the links from the bottom of this page to see what restrictions might be in place. In the summer, as the weather is so hot and dry, the open access rights are automatically closed if the fire risk reaches 'exceptional'. The met office assess the 'fire severity index' which can be viewed through a tab on the open access for land managers page. If you are experiencing difficulties, please phone Cumbria County Council for more advice. Walkers should read the 'be fire aware' note below to make sure you don't inadvertently start any moorland fires. These notices are available laminated for landowners to put on stiles and gates at the entry points to access land - please contact us with your request.

Be fire aware (325KB)

Can I talk to someone?

Your first port of call should be Natural England. Use the link to find their website and contact information. They can give general advice about open access land, restrictions and responsibilities. However, if you have something to report in Cumbria, please contact us. Cumbria County Council have a team of four countryside rangers to help work closely with local landowners and walkers, particularly on these new open access rights. If you would like to contact one of the rangers, either to ask for information or to give a report, please use the 'contact us' page.