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What Does the Right to Roam Mean for Landowners?

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The debate on the Right to Roam has been ongoing for many years, with landowners and ramblers alike unclear on the rules. In some places, it seems public access is allowed, while in others it is blocked off.

This confusion has led to some people mistakenly entering private land, risking prosecution. In this guide, we seek to clarify the right to roam for both landowners and those looking to exercise their right to roam.

We’ll explain what their rights are, how they can be exercised, and how to avoid problems. By doing this, we hope to make the Right to Roam easier to understand for everyone.

Table of Contents

What is the right to roam?

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act, passed in 2000, grants people the right to roam in certain areas. This is sometimes referred to as the freedom to roam or the right to roam.

Unfortunately, it may be an annoyance to some landowners, as the land included in this act may be closer to their property than they would like. In some cases, the land where the public has the right to roam may even overlap with the land of the landowner.

What land can the public access with their right to roam?

The public has the right to access certain parts of land throughout the nation, which fall under a variety of categories. Currently, the type of land that grants the right to roam under the act includes:

  1. Land more than 600 metres above sea level
  2. Registered common land
  3. Land shown as open country on a map issued by Natural England
  4. Dedicated land, where landowners or tenants have at least 90 years left of a lease and have dedicated their land for public access.

This can mean people have the right to roam close to properties, which may not always be something that landlords or tenants feel comfortable with.

What Does the Right to Roam Mean for Landowners
The Countryside and Rights of Way Act, passed in 2000, grants people the right to roam in certain areas. This is sometimes referred to as the freedom to roam or the right to roam.

Is any land exempt from the right to roam?

Of course, it’s not reasonable to expect that the public can wander anywhere with no consequences. Certain land is private and, even if it appears to be open-access, it can only be accessed through pathways, roads, or other rights of way.

This type of land is known as excepted land and can include houses, parks, gardens, building sites, farms, and many other places.

Any land being used by the military is always exempt from the right to roam, regardless of how it appears on a map.

What does the right to roam allow you to do?

The right to roam encourages more outdoor activity, but it’s important to ensure that everyone’s safety and enjoyment are respected and that there’s minimal disruption to others. Generally, walking, running, climbing, and wildlife-watching are all accepted activities on open-access land.

Cycling and horse riding may be allowed in some areas, which will be noted in any signage; if in doubt, check with the landowner.

Anyone who commits a criminal offence or damages any walls or fences on the land will be charged as a trespasser and barred from the land for 72 hours. If this order is broken, much more serious penalties may be imposed.

The right to roam gives people the freedom to enter and stay on open-access land to take part in outdoor activities.

Restrictions and exclusions of the right to roam

There are a few restrictions and exclusions when it comes to the right to roam. Generally, the public can enjoy the use of the land but must follow specific rules. So, as of the time of writing, the act has set the following restrictions and prohibitions for access to land.


  • Access to the land can only be done by foot, but wheelchairs are an exception.
  • Dogs must be kept on a lead of no more than 2 metres between 1st March and 31st July and must be on a lead if livestock are present.
  • No fires should be made.
  • All gates should be shut and fastened unless it would be reasonable to assume they should remain open.
  • No animal, bird or fish should be intentionally harmed or taken.


  • Animals on the farm should not be fed.
  • No commercial activities are allowed.
  • Hunting or possession of items that could be used for hunting is forbidden.
  • Metal detectors cannot be used or possessed.
  • Non-tidal waters cannot be used for bathing.
  • Trees, plants, shrubs or their roots must not be removed or damaged.
  • Advertising any event or business is not allowed.
  • Drains or watercourses must not be obstructed.
  • Altering fences or gates designed for enclosing livestock or safety is prohibited.

Camping, hang-gliding, para-gliding and other organised games are not permitted.

What does this mean for landlords and landowners
The right to roam encourages more outdoor activity, but it's important to ensure that everyone's safety and enjoyment are respected and that there's minimal disruption to others.

What does this mean for landlords and landowners?

Landowners and occupiers have the right to restrict and even exclude public access to their land for up to 28 days a year, as long as they give notice to Natural England.

This can also be done to manage land. However, it is not allowed to deter people from using access land by posting signs that forbid it. If done, this can result in hefty fines.

In cases where the land presents a fire risk or any other kind of danger, Natural England has the power to restrict or even exclude public access to the land, even if it has been classified as access land.

If you are a landowner and feel that your rights are being encroached upon, get in touch with Property Saviour. We provide a service where you can sell your land for cash with no fees and your legal expenses covered.

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