Natural England - Know your rights, responsibilities and liabilities

Know your rights, responsibilities and liabilities

People visiting the countryside provide important income for the local economy. Most like to follow a visible route, prefer using proper access points like gates, and generally want to do the right thing - but they need your help.

  • The Ordnance Survey's 1:25,000 maps show public rights of way and access land. These maps are not 'definitive'. If in doubt you can check the legal status of rights of way with your local authority. Find out which areas of Open Access land are mapped under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.

  • For guidance on your rights, responsibilities and liabilities, contact your local authority or National Park authority. The Country Land and Business Associationexternal link Telephone: 020 7235 0511 and the National Farmers’ Unionexternal link Telephone: 0870 845 8458 can also offer advice.

  • For specific queries about Open Access land, check Open Access or the Open Access Contact Centre on 0845 100 3298.

  • By law, you must keep rights of way clear and not obstruct people's entry onto access land - it's a criminal offence to discourage rights of public access with misleading signs.

  • Trespassing is often unintentional - for advice on tackling trespass see the publications and guidance on  Open Access.

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