Keep on roaming

Keep On Roaming

In England and Wales, the Ramblers have campaigned for many decades for the right to walk in wild, open countryside, without having to stay on the path.

People should have the freedom to explore, connect with nature and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors. For many, the joy of walking is getting away from the crowds and reconnecting with nature. The freedom to explore places, off rights of way, without trespassing is an important part of many people’s enjoyment of the outdoors.

The Ramblers continues to support the principle of a right to roam, alongside an accessible and well-maintained path network that supports people to access green space from their doorsteps and into the wider countryside.

In 2000, following Ramblers’ campaigning, people were granted the right to explore and walk off-path in some of our wildest landscapes – a huge step forward for people’s rights to enjoy the outdoors. Open access land now covers around 8% of land in England and Wales, and focuses mainly on upland land types, like mountains, moors, heaths and downs. That means that people living in towns, cities and lowland areas (like east England) often live a long way from places where they can explore freely off-path. There are opportunities to bring the joy and benefits of exploring off-path to more people and places. 

The Ramblers would like to see:

  • a more equal freedom to roam that addresses the lack of open access land in parts of the country;
  • freedom to roam in other landscapes such as woodland, river and lakesides;
  • open access land that is connected and accessible; and
  • a path network that connects people to wild open spaces

More details on what that means in practice can be found in our access to open countryside briefing.

In Scotland, people already have statutory rights of access to most land and inland water, as long as these rights are exercised responsibly. In Wales, a number of changes to the Countryside and Rights of Way (CRoW) Act are being considered

On Wednesday 19 August 2020, a new campaign launched on the freedom to roam in England. You can read more about the campaign – launched by Nick Hayes, illustrator and author of The Book of Trespass, and Guy Shrubsole, environmental campaigner and author of Who Owns England? - at:

John Edwards

Please can we call it The Right to Responsible Access. Some people claim that the right to roam means that you can go into other peoples garden and pick their flowers.

John Andrews

The general right of access and the ability to wander more or less at will are wonderful benefits of the Scottish legislation, but experience of how it works in practice shows very clearly that the majority of the public are much keener on having a good path network and many are very hesitant to leave the 'beaten track'.