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Rural Affairs

Public Access

Conservation Walks and Rides

This page provides information about  public access to the countryside, funded through the access elements of the Environmental Stewardship (Higher Level Stewardship (HLS)) Scheme and the Countryside Stewardship Scheme (CSS) and Environmentally Sensitive Areas (ESAs). The schemes are delivered for Defra by Natural England.

Natural England maintains a database of access routes for walkers, cyclists and horse riders and areas of open access available under the schemes at: You can search the database for walks and rides in your area for personal use and download site maps.

Public Access in ActionSome Environmental Stewardship (HLS) and Countryside Stewardship agreements also provide for educational access visits to the farms by schools for curricular and other studies, and colleges, clubs, youth groups, adult study centres and other special interest groups for formal or informal study, or guided walks to show the environmental benefits being reaped under the schemes.

Information about participating farms can also be found on the ‘Countrywalks’ website.

Open Access

The Countryside and Rights of Way (CRoW) Act 2000, opened up large areas of mountain, moor, heath, down and registered common land to the public to allow them to walk in these areas. More details are available from the Natural England website.

Rights of Way

Public Access in ActionRights of way are minor public highways that exist for the benefit of the community at large, in much the same way as the public road network. They are the most widely recognised facility that gives the public the opportunity to enjoy the English countryside. [More information]


Page last modified: 2 June, 2008
Page published: 10 April, 2003

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs