November 6 marks the 800th anniversary of the Charter of the Forest, an historic document that gave common people the right of access to forest land.
This can be seen as the first step in a campaign spanning centuries, seeking the legal guarantee of freedom for people to access England’s beautiful landscapes. In more recent years we have seen the Kinder Scout trespass, the founding of the Ramblers, the establishment of National Parks and National Trails, the Countryside and Rights of Way Act, the Land Reform (Scotland) Act, the right to create the England Coast Path, among many other achievements. See our timeline below for the full history!
At this anniversary we are not only celebrating the last 800 years of access, but we are also looking forward to the next 800 years.
It may surprise you that today, only 40% of woodland in England and Wales is accessible to the public, and much of this doesn’t have a permanent right of access, meaning it could be closed off at any time. Our recent YouGov survey revealed that people want increased access to woods and forests more than any other type of land.
In response, we are calling on the government to improve access to the beautiful woodlands of England and Wales. Add your voice to this call by signing our petition here.
This anniversary really brings to life the long history of the struggle for greater access to the countryside, a mission that is very close to many people’s hearts. But what do people want for the next 800 years? Now is your chance to help shape the future of access. Share your views in our survey here.
Join us by putting your names against our calls as we look forward to the future of access.
Browse our interactive timeline to see the rich history of access rights in Britain, dating back 800 years.
We want to build up a picture of how access land is used today. Let us know what you get up to.
Take a look at our answers to commonly asked questions about the campaign.