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Access Land

open access land

Specific areas of land that are designated as 'Access Land' give people a right of access on foot for open air recreation. There is open access on foot to large areas of the moorland in the National Park and also in some woodland. In some places, open access rights may extend to other users such as horse-riders. Please refer to an up to date Ordnance Survey map or the National Park website for an indication of the land that is designated as Access Land. The government maintains the definitive and up to date mapping of Access Land and this is publicly accessible online via the Natural England website. Most enclosed fields and farm yard areas will not have open access rights - in these areas, walkers should keep to public rights of way and permitted paths.

For full details on the open access rights created by the CRoW Act (Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000). please visit the Natural England website.

What you can do and where you can go 

On access land, permitted activities include walking, sightseeing, dog walking, bird watching, picnicking, running, climbing and any other open air recreation on foot. Activities such as camping, horse riding, swimming and cycling are not permitted by the CRoW Act.

The CRoW Act access rights do not affect what people already do with the permission of the landowner, on public rights of way such as footpaths or bridleways, or under any other existing access rights that apply locally. 

Not all access land is signed so check maps to be sure you are on access land.  All access land is shown on Ordnance Survey Explorer maps in a yellow colour wash. You can also view maps online on the Natural England website

Restrictions and exclusions of access

Landowners can restrict or exclude access to any areas of access land, for any reason, for up to 28 days each year (excluding public and bank holidays, and most weekends).

Anyone with a legal interest in access land may also apply to the National Park Authority for a direction to exclude or restrict access on the grounds of land management, public safety or fire prevention. The National Park Authority can also make directions for public safety, fire prevention or for nature conservation reasons without an application being received.

Details of exclusions and restrictions on access within Exmoor National Park are available at National Park Centres, online, or by phoning the Open Access Call Centre on 0845 100 3298.  

Closures or restrictions do not affect public rights of way.

Certain areas or land types are exempt from the new access rights. These may be mapped as access land but rights will not apply. Examples include:

Land that has been ploughed or drilled within the last 12 months

Land within 20 metres of a dwelling

Parks, gardens and golf courses