Last 'right to roam' areas open up

Ecovillage Network UK office at
Sun Oct 30 17:37:43 GMT 2005

see also

After a century of protest, last 'right to roam' areas open up in England
By Terry Kirby, Chief Reporter
Published: 31 October 2005

After a campaign of mass protest and often angry confrontation that has 
lasted more than a century, the right of walkers to roam freely across 
previously closed tracts of open country in England and Wales will 
finally be completed today.

The last two regions of England where walkers have now been granted 
unrestricted access - without the need to stick to paths - will be 
formally opened up today, completing a five-year programme of 
implementing the Countryside and Rights of Way (Crow) Act.

The move represents an almost complete victory for campaigners for the 
so-called "right to roam", led by the Ramblers' Association, which had 
fought landowners reluctant to allow unrestricted access. It means that 
a total of about 6,250 square miles of mountain, moor, heath, down and 
registered common land, much of which was previously off-limits to 
walkers, are now open for people to walk across freely. This equates to 
7 per cent of the total land in England. The right still does not extend 
to areas of riverbank, coastline and woodland.

The two areas being opened up today are England East and West, the 
regions stretching from the Welsh borders to East Anglia and including 
Yorkshire and Derbyshire,comprising more than 28,000 hectares of new 
access. The occasion will be marked by a ceremony at Milford Common, in 
Cannock Chase, Staffordshire.

Hailing the date as "a historic day", Pam Warhurst, deputy chair of the 
Countryside Agency, said: "By giving every member of the public more 
opportunities to get out and enjoy the countryside, we can in time build 
a healthier, more environmentally aware society."

Lord Smith of Finsbury, president of the Ramblers' Association, said: 
"The Crow Act, which enshrines on the statute books a genuine freedom to 
roam, is based on a very simple principle - that every citizen of our 
country, no matter who or what they are, where they come from or how 
much money they have, should be able to walk freely over the open 
country, mountain and moorland that forms such an important part of the 
landscape of our islands."

He added: "What is now needed is a serious look at what might be done on 
access to coastal land, particularly to shore and foreshore; then 
perhaps a look at riverbanks and woodland."

New Ordnance Survey maps showing the open access areas are gradually 
being published.

Today is the culmination of a process that began in 1884 when James 
Bryce MP introduced the first Bill for freedom to roam, articulating a 
desire among the growing urban working class for access to the 
countryside, which they could reach via the new trams and trains. 
However, the Bill failed and in the face of stiff resistance from the 
established landowners, the cause became a long-standing objective of 
the growing socialist movement. The mass trespass on Kinder Scout in the 
Peak District in 1932, which led to six people being jailed, attracted 
widespread public attention and resulted eventually in the creation of 
the Ramblers' Association; the "right to roam" campaign was launched in 

Although the creation of the National Parks in the 1940s allowed much 
greater public access to the countryside, not until Tony Blair was 
elected in 1997 did it become government policy, and not until November 
2000 did the Crow Act enter the statute books. The process of mapping 
and registering all open access country and common land in England and 
Wales has taken until now to complete; the first areas were opened up in 
September last year. In Scotland, walkers have always enjoyed relatively 
unrestricted access to most areas, although that has now also been put 
into law by the Scottish Executive.

10 of the best new places to ramble

Large swaths of this ancient hunting forest at Brindley Heath, Cannock 
Chase, Staffordshire, were granted to the Bishop of Lichfield by Richard 
I in 1189. They include a mere pool formed by melting ice from a glacier.

One of four Forestry Commission sites in the Suffolk coastal area being 
opened for the first time, this is a 1,420 hectare area of mixed conifer 
and broadleaved woodland. A Site of Special Scientific Interest, it is 
home to the woodlark and the nightjar and also one of the main places 
for UFO sightings.

Also in Suffolk, this is part of the Broxted estate close to the Sutton 
Hoo Anglo-Saxon burial ground. An area of dry, flat heathland, it is 
popular with ground nesting birds, such as the Dartford warbler and the 
wheatear, which may mean restrictions on access at breeding times.

Lying just to the south of the Peak District in Staffordshire, this 
limestone landscape has never enjoyed the same protection as the rest of 
the Peak District National Park until now.

Part of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty this Iron Age 
hill fort in Buckinghamshire commands spectacular views across the Vale 
of Aylesbury and has long been a popular location. The area is 
nationally important for wildlife, plants and insects, especially 

These were well-known even in Roman times, when the area was used for 
lead mining. Designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a 
Natural Nature Reserve because of its unique geology and heathland, the 
Shropshire Way long-distance footpath follows its ridge.

Situated south of Buxton, in the Peak District National Park, 
Derbyshire's Dragon's Back hills offer beautiful new walking 
opportunities and stunning views of the surrounding countryside. The new 
access land links existing rights of way.

The opening up of this area of Yorkshire, flanked by two nature reserves 
and newly opened woodland, creates a large swathe of countryside now 
with unrestricted access.

Areas of heathland and woodland just outside Coalville, in 
Leicestershire. Moat of Charnwood Lodge is a National Nature Reserve, 
part of the ancient Charnwood Forest and previously accessible only 
either along one public footpath or by permit. A breeding home for bats 
and butterflies, it is full of scarce ferns and fungi.

This is a huge area of common land in the Malvern Hills, beloved of 
Edward Elgar, which offer fantastic views both east and west. The area 
is famous for its birdlife, which includes green woodpeckers, ring 
ouzels, stonechats, kestrels and buzzards.

All right-to-roam access land is open
31/10/2005 11:00:00 - Farmers Weekly

The final 48,418ha (119,639 acres) of countryside has been opened up 
under the Countryside Rights of Way Act.

This marks the completion of the so-called right-to-roam across mapped 
areas of mountain, moorland, downland and registered common land in England.

The East (26,111ha) and the West (22,307ha) are the last areas to be 
mapped in England, bringing the total area of land under open access to 
almost three quarters of a million hectares of land.

Junior DEFRA minister Jim Knight said: "This is a very special day for 
everyone who loves our countryside, as it provides the opportunity for 
people to walk freely on access land, without the need to stick to 
paths, and to enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery that up until now 
has been off-limits.

"From today everybody can join in and celebrate the introduction of the 
right across the whole of England thanks to the hard work of many people 
and organisations.

"The Countryside and Rights of Way Act strikes a careful balance between 
the wishes of people to walk on access land and the needs of landowners 
and managers.

"However, along with this new right of access comes responsibility. I am 
encouraging walkers and visitors to follow the Countryside Code and 
signs, keep their dogs under control and find out about any restrictions 
on access which were in place."

Eurotopia 2005: Guide to EuroEcovillages and Intentional Communities
Price £12.00 inside/£15.00 outside UK (inc. P&P)
UK Pounds Cheque/PO to 'Ecovillage Network UK' (see address below)

Our specialist contact point for the UK EcoVillage movement.
Register free on the UK PeopleFinder -

Populating the rhetoric of rural sustainability
Volunteers: Russ, Nikki, Tony, Pam, and Joyce
PO Box 1410, Bristol, BS99 3JP
Tel. 0117 373 0346
email: office at

Subscribe (approx. 1 post/2wks.): ecovillageuk-subscribe at

The UK's Sustainable Rural Planning Campaign & planning office of 'The 
Land Is Ours'
'The Land' magazine - 16-20pp. bi-yearly details from
The Potato Store, Flaxdrayton Farm, South Petherton, Somerset, TA13
email: chapter7 at
Telephone: +44 (0)1460 249204

ECOVILLAGE GUIDE BOOKS - available (postage included) from
Mulberry House, 19 Maple Grove, Bath, BA2 3AF - 01225 484472
UK > 'Diggers and Dreamers' - Annual directory of UK Communities - £6.00
EUROPE > 'Eurotopia' - You can buy this from us (see above)!
COTTARS AND SQUATTERS > Reccommended: UK land rights history - £10.00

Quarterly colour mag. for enquiring minds and original thinkers everywhere.
Hyden House Ltd, The Sustainability Centre, East Meon, Hampshire GU32 
1HR, England.
info at
Tel. 01730 823311

DIGGERS AND DREAMERS - Searchable community database
Diggers & Dreamers, a UK guide to communal living for more than 10 years
c/o Edge of Time Ltd, BCM Edge, London, WC1N 3XX, UK
info at
Tel. 07000 780536

Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms
Join WWOOF, do some work, stay for free. Membership includes directory
PO Box 2675, Lewes, Sussex, BN7 1RB
fran at

Supports individuals, projects and groups working with permaculture in 
Third Floor Studios, 6 Carr Mills, 322 Meanwood Road, Leeds, West 
Yorkshire, LS7 2HY
office at
Tel/Fax: 07041 390170 and 0113 262 1718

Promoting and developing self-help initiatives with the homeless

Sharing expertise and experience amongst the U.K. cohousing groups.

Camps for kids to get back to nature with the minimum of authority.


Rosa-Luxemburgstr. 89, D-14806 Belzig, Germany - info at - 
0049 33841 44766
Ecovillage Office, Findhorn, The Park, Forres, Moray, Scotland IV36 0TZ 
- ecovillage at - +44 (0)1309 690154
Minutes of meetings
European email list - post <euevforum at> - contact 
webmaster at

Download free & easy to use PGP encryption at

More information about the Diggers350 mailing list