What restrictions apply to open access?

The following restrictions can apply to mountain, moor, heath and down. The restrictions for the coastal margin are sometimes different. Click here for more information.

28 day Restrictions

Landowners or tenants can stop open access on their land for any reason for up to 28 days per year, to give them flexibility for activities which wouldn’t be compatible with the public walking through, but there are certain days when they can’t. The 28 days can’t include Christmas Day, Good Friday, Bank Holidays or more than four Saturdays or Sundays in in a year. They also can’t use this restriction on any Saturday between 1 June and 11 August or any Sunday between 1 June and 30 September.

Grouse Moors and Lambing Enclosures

These rules can last for up to five years and stop you taking dogs onto the land, in case they disturb or injure the grouse. Fields or enclosures used for lambing (of not more than 15 hectares) can also be closed for up to six weeks in a year at these times. You can still walk with your guide dog if you have a visual impairment or assistance dog if you have a hearing impairment.

Land Management

Access to land may not be allowed, for example, where a target shooting club uses a site on a regular basis and needs to exclude the public on particular days for safety reasons, or where the land is being used for a visitor attraction which has an entrance fee and public access needs to be excluded all year so that the business can function.

Public Safety

Land may be closed to the public, for example, by the Forestry Commission in areas of woodland where they are felling trees to avoid people being hurt by the falling trees or the machinery they are using.

Fire Risk

Sometimes, in very dry weather, land might be closed where there’s an exceptional risk of wildfire.

Nature Conservation and Heritage Preservation

Land which has rare plants, birds or animals, might be closed for short or longer periods to protect the wildlife. Sometimes, where there is a delicate rock outcrop or an ancient monument, public access might be stopped to protect these.

Defence or National Security

In some circumstances, the government may restrict public access locally for defence or national security reasons.

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