Access to Open Country

Open Access

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act in 2000 allowed access to mountains, moorland and uncultivated land in England and Wales.  The Northumbria Area of the Ramblers was involved in surveying the areas that we considered should be included as Open Country, and submitted our work to Natural England, to assist in the mapping process.  We were not entirely successful in getting all areas we considered should be included on the Access Maps, but it was an interesting exercise.  Access Land is now shown on the Ordnance Survey 1:25 000 scale Explorer Maps.

The England Coast Path

The Marine and Coastal Access Act was subsequently passed in 2009, which allows for the development of a continuous coast path around the entire English coastline, together with the provision of spreading room, and a new legal right to walk on beaches.  The first section in Dorset was opened in summer 2012, in time for the water sports events of the Olympic Games.

Following this, volunteers from both Northumbria Area and North Yorkshire South Durham Area were involved in preparing a report for that section of the coast between Whitburn north of Sunderland to Seaton Carew near Teesmouth.  Maps and a report were prepared and submitted to the RA in London, and to Natural England, to assist in their preparation of the official report prepared for the Secretary of State.  This report identified not only the suggested route for the path, and sections where there are problems with erosion, but also areas of ‘spreading room’ to allow people to picnic and enjoy wider access to the coast.  Natural England’s Report was approved by the Secretary of State in July 2013, and the route was finally opened in April 2014. This land will now be included as Access Land on the Ordnance Survey 1:25 000 Explorer Maps.

A further section of the North East Coast has now to been surveyed  from South Bents in South Tyneside to Amble in Northumberland by members of Northumbria Area.  A report has been prepared to assist Natural England in their work on this section, before their final report is considered by the Secretary of State, later in 2017.

 The sections from Amble to Bamburgh, and Bamburgh to the Scottish Border are now to be surveyed.  Natural England are currently meeting land owners, tenants and user groups prior to ‘walking the route’ to determine where the path should go, and the extent of ‘spreading room’ beside the route. Members wishing to assist in draft survey work should contact the Access Officer, Nuala Wright.

If you would like to find out more information, click on the links below:

Amble to Border Information Leaflet

or visit the website at