The best places to roam free

Where can you stray from the beaten track, wander wherever you want and find your own path through the wilderness?

September of this year marked the thirteen year anniversary of the first area of access land opened to the public following the Countryside and Rights of Way Act in 2000. Since then over 3 million acres of moorland, mountain, heathland and downland have been opened up for walkers to explore. 

To celebrate the anniversary – and the launch of our access guide and campaign - we’ve pulled together some of the most stunning places in England and Wales where you can wander freely, away from the well-trodden paths.

Where are the best places you’ve found to roam free? Share them on Facebook or in the comments below.

Langsett Moor

Langsett Moors, Peak District

Roam over hilly moors and see spectacular views of Langsett reservoir and the surround peaks. Then walk through World War II history at North America farm and Thickwoods Lane. Langsett barn is the best place to begin your explorations.

Map: OS Explorer OL1

Find a walk or route nearby.

Dunkery Beacon

Dunkery Beacon, Exmoor

Dunkery Beacon is the highest place in Somerset county. Extensive areas of access land spread west from Dunkery Hill, which is easily reached from the small town off Porlock. You can also try the trails over Horner Wood, part of a large National Nature Reserve that includes the beacon.

Map: OS Explorer OL1 

Walking route nearby: Dulverton & Hawkridge route

Gragareth and Whernside

Gragareth & Whernside, Yorkshire Dales

Wander over some of the highest ground in Yorkshire and Lancashire - borders mean little here, as almost everything but the valley is open access. The limestone pavements of Twistleton Scars are some of the finest in the country.

Map: OS Explorer OL2; Landranger 98 

Find a walk or route nearby.


Pumlumon, Central Wales

This mountainous circular walk from Eisteddfa Gurig, via Y Garn, Pumlumon Fawr, Pumlumon Arwystli and Carnfachbugeiln, boasts great views and spectacular birdlife as well as the sources of the three major rivers. Looks out for numerous bronze age cairns that stud the range.

Map: OS Explorers OL213 & 214; Landranger 135

Walking route nearby: Pumlumon route


Simonside Hills, Northumberland

Long-enjoyed by walkers, Simonside hill is a wild skyline-dominating ridge above the River Coquet that offers views of the Cheviots and the entire Northumbrian coast. The traditional walk from Lordenshaw can be extended to take in Tosson Hill, Whitefield Hill and Darden Pike.

Map: Explorer OL42; Landranger 81 

Find a walk or route nearby. 


Strines Edge and Dovestone Tor

Strines Edge & Dovestone Tor, Peak District

One of the finest and least-known walks in the Peak District starts near Moscar, climbs Strines Edge to Dovestone Tor, before following the dramatic gridstone edge to Salt Cellar. The stones marking the Yorkshire/Derbyshire boundary along Strines edge are believed to predate the Norman invasion.

Map: OS Explorer OL1; Landranger 110

Walking route nearby: Strine Valley route.


Oxted to Westerham, North Downs

Paralleling the south side of the M25, a string of access areas can be linked by the Greensand Way to create a terrific linear walk away from the traffic’s roar, through the Surrey and Kent hills. Five species of bat hibernate in the old ragstone mines on Hosey Common and Crockham Hill, and Winston Churchill’s former home of Chartwell, now a National Trust property, has superb gardens. 

Map: OS Explorer 146 & 147; Landranger 187

Find a walk or route nearby.

Boulsworth Hill

Boulsworth Hill, South Pennines

On clear days there are great views from the summit across the Yorkshire Dales and Blackpool Tower to the west. One of the best approaches to this hill - the highest in the South Pennines - is from the National Trust's Hardcastle Crags property. Head over Walshaw Dean and Greave Clough, and return via Alcomden Stones, Oxenhope Stoop Hill and Crimsworth Dean.

Map: OS Exploroer OL21; Landranger 103 

Walking route nearby: Hebden Bridge Riverside and Moorland Circular Walk