This year is the 70th anniversary of the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, legislation that led to the creation of National Parks, AONBs, National Trails, the definitive map in both England and Wales, and National Nature Reserves across Great Britain. 

The act was achieved thanks to tireless campaigning from the Ramblers, like-minded organisations, and individuals such as our President Tom Stephenson, who passionately believed access to open and wild places would benefit us all.

With growing issues around mental health, well-being, loneliness and obesity, our ability to access nature, and open, wild spaces is more important than ever.

By keeping alive the ambitions of the 1949 act, we can ensure more people become happier and healthier because they ramble.

Together, we’re continuing the fight today to ensure the next generation can have the same access to landscapes as we’ve enjoyed.

That’s why our growing Ramblers movement is going to #KeepOnRambling

Will you join us?

"We remain inspired by the ambitions of the 1949 Act and continue to build on what it achieved in a way that is relevant to the needs of walkers today and tomorrow."
Kate Ashbrook, Ramblers Chair

Find out more about what we’ve achieved then and how we’re continuing to campaign now in our series of blogs…

Tom Stephenson and the struggle for walkers rights

Hilary Flockhart, Ramblers volunteer, has been digging through the archives to uncover the story of Tom Stephenson and the passing of the 1949 Act.

Seven decades of National Nature Reserves

While the 1949 Act didn’t include Scotland in much of its scope, it did introduce NNRs, and the first in the UK was opened at Beinn Eighe in Torridon.

Find out more about the work of Ramblers Scotland

Our priorities for the future

Gemma Cantelo, Ramblers’ head of policy and advocacy, reflects on what we need to see from the new government, and what the Ramblers priorities are for the future.

 

The latest National Trail

70 Years after the Act that made them possible, Ramblers volunteers across England are supporting the latest National Trail, the England Coast Path.

Find out more about the work involved.

Keep on Rambling

Download our limited-edition poster and join the growing Ramblers movement to protect and improve our landscapes
 

Discover our campaigns

Be inspired by past and present Ramblers campaigners.

Help us fight to protect and improve our landscapes for the next generation.

Scotland

While the 1949 Act didn’t include Scotland in much of its scope, it did introduce one important improvement north of the border: National Nature Reserves (NNRs).

Indeed, Britain’s first NNR was established at Beinn Eighe in Torridon in 1951.

A lot has happened since then, and we’re still campaigning to protect and improve Scotland’s landscape, find out more about our work here.

Wales

The 1949 Act introduced National Parks, AONBs, National Trails and the definitive map across England and Wales.

However, the devolved government is forging its own path today, having reviewed protected landscapes across Wales, developed its own Environment Act and is reviewing the 2026 cut off for Don’t Lose Your Way.

Ramblers Cymru has been campaigning to achieve all of this. Find out more about our work here.