Open access

Open access

Walking on access land is a very different experience to following public Rights of Way, principally because you are able to make up your own route and explore freely.

What you can do on access land

On access land you can walk, sightsee, picnic, birdwatch, climb and run. But there is no new right to ride a cycle or horse, camp, drive vehicles, hang glide, paraglide, use a metal detector, use boats, collect stones, plants or wood, light or cause fires or swim.

Across the North Pennines there is an almost complete restriction on taking dogs onto access land. Please note that this does not apply to public rights of way crossing open country – where you should keep your dog under close control i.e. preferably on a lead.


Three leaflets are available to help you exercise your rights in a responsible fashion:

With rights… come responsibilities

You are welcome to explore access land in the North Pennines but please remember that most of the area is privately owned, is internationally important for wildlife and is also a home and place of work for many people. Please observe local signs and follow the moorland visitor’s code:

  • Be safe – plan ahead and follow any signs
  • Keep dogs under close control
  • Prevent uncontrolled moorland fires
  • Protect plants and animals, and take your litter home
  • Leave gates and property as you find them
  • Consider other people

Find out more:

  • OS Explorer maps published after May 2005 show access land
  • Visit Natural England for information on restrictions to walk on access land and for general information
  • Call the Access Helpline on 0845 100 3298
  • Visit a Primary Information Point – locations on OS Explorer maps
  • Contact the County Councils: Cumbria – 0300 303 2992; Durham – 03000 260 000; Northumberland – 0345 600 6400