Where you can go in the Park
Since May 2005, large areas of Northumberland National Park are accessible to the public as a result of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW). This means that you can now walk feely on designated ‘Access Land’ without having to stay on rights of way.
Up to date information about access land, where you can go and what you can do is available on the Countryside Access website.
Waymarking symbols for access land
Access land will normally be indicated on the ground at key entry points by a waymarking symbols. On your walks, keep an eye out for these signs:
Open Access Frequently Asked Questions
Can I walk wherever I want?
No. Open Access is not a ‘right to roam’ everywhere. You can walk on Access Land, but you must also look out for local restrictions.
- Access to buildings and access within 20 metres of a house is not allowed
- You can’t walk across arable land.
- Active quarries, railway lines and military bye-lawed land is also out of bounds.
The live firing area at the Otterburn army training estate falls into this last category. Despite this, one third of the estate (the dry training area) is not byelawed and thus is mapped as access land. For more details on access at Otterburn please go to the Otterburn information pages.
You can, of course, always walk on existing Rights of Way.
What can I do on access land?
You can do most recreational activities that are carried out on foot, such as walking, running, climbing, picnicking, photography, bird watching and so on.
What can’t I do on access land?
- Cycle or horse ride on access land, except on existing bridleways or where access has been agreed with the landowner.
- Take vehicles and motorcycles onto access land.
- Camp, light fires or leave litter Swim, fish, metal detect, fly model aircraft or do any other activity without the permission of the landowner.
- Take anything from the land, damage property or disrupt any lawful activity.
Can I take my dog?
- Yes. However you must use a fixed lead of no more than two metres at all times near livestock, and from 1st March to 31st July as this is the bird nesting season.
- You may also find that dogs are excluded from grouse moors and lambing fields during the lambing season.
- Please keep a look out for signs which will explain this and look on the Countryside Access website which has up to date information an areas that have restrictions in place.
- You can of course still takes dogs on rights of way, and we would advise that you keep your dog on a lead when in these restricted areas.
Can I always walk on access land?
Not always. Farmers and landowners have the right to close their land sometimes. This is usually for public safety, land management or nature conservation.
If access is closed at any time, this will be shown on the maps displayed on the Countryside Access website and sometimes on signage.
Where to find up to date information
The highway authority is responsible for the Definitive Map, which provides a legal record of public rights of way and public rights known to exist at any point in time.
Within the National Park, there are 707 kilometres of public footpath, 422 kilometres of public bridleway, 38 kilometres of byway open to all traffic and 50 kilometres of restricted byway.
Up to date information on all rights of way in the County can be found on the mapping pages of the county council’s website, http://map.northumberland.gov.uk/prow/
Northumberland National Park Authority has delegated responsibility from the highway authority in terms of the physical maintenance and improvement of the public rights of way network.
The majority of this work is carried out by our Rangers, who are responsible for surveying paths, signing routes, helping landowners to keep gates and stiles in good condition, and help to resolve conflicts between path users and those who live and work in the National Park.
More information about access in the Park
On the Natural England website you can also find details and maps for more than 1800 walks, rides and areas of open access provided under the Countryside Stewardship, Environmentally Sensitive Areas and Environmental Stewardship Schemes.
All these differing forms of access are individually identified on the Ordnance Survey Explorer Series maps. There are three maps that cover the area of the National Park:
- Explorer OL 16 – The Cheviot Hills
- Explorer OL 42 – Kielder Water and Forest
- Explorer OL 43 – Hadrian’s Wall