We’re campaigning to expand the freedom to roam
14 March 2023
The freedom to roam gives everyone the chance to get out walking, connect with nature and explore the beautiful outdoors. It gives us all the right to walk in nature without fear of trespassing.
But, right now, it only covers 8% of England. And it is not equally distributed.
Today, we are launching our campaign to expand the freedom to roam. It is one of the biggest things we can do to increase access to the outdoors for everyone.
Why are we campaigning to expand the freedom to roam?
We had to fight for the freedom to roam. The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 gave us the legal right to walk freely over mountain, moor, heath and downland. Its introduction was a big step forward in giving more people the opportunity to walk in nature.
Better access to the outdoors means better health and wellbeing for all. Not only that, it makes us more connected to nature, more environmentally aware and boosts local economies.
Where the freedom to roam exists, the benefits are part of everyday life. Now is the time to bring these benefits closer to millions of people.
The freedom to roam is unequal
The freedom to roam gives everyone the chance to walk in nature, close to home. It is not all about remote mountains or a distant wilderness. It’s about places right on your doorstep.
In new research released today, we have found that, on average, people in England live just over 5km away from an area with the freedom to roam that is accessible and connected to the path network.
However, residents of the most deprived areas across England and Wales have to travel 48% further to enjoy the freedom to roam, and people from the most ethnically diverse neighbourhoods have to travel 73% further.
And these trends aren’t explained by a whether you live in a rural or urban area. Those in an urban area currently only live 18% further away from the freedom to roam than those in rural areas.
We are calling for an expansion of the freedom to roam
We’re campaigning for the freedom to roam to be expanded to cover woodland, watersides, and more grassland. This would have a huge impact.
Expanding the freedom to roam would give more people the chance to walk in nature, close to home. Our new research shows that opening access to woodland would more than double the coverage of the freedom to roam in England. On average, the distance to the freedom to roam would drop by 63%.
It would also directly benefit those that need it most. It would give the most deprived groups easy access to the freedom to roam within a 20-minute walk from their front door. Falling from well over an hour now.
Help us to expand the freedom to roam. It is one of the biggest things we can do to increase access to the outdoors for everyone.
Helping you understand your rights, where you’re allowed to walk, and how to find new places to explore.