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Open access

Open access

Open access land is an area where you do not have to stay on linear routes and paths unless you want to.

In the New Forest the public have been able to walk and ride horses across the Crown Lands for many years.

What can I do on access land?

You can walk freely on all types of access land. Within the New Forest there are many streams and areas of bog and mire, so you should take care if you are walking in an unfamiliar area.

You can also enjoy other informal activities such as watching birds and wildlife, picnicking, photography and running. Some things are not permitted, such as camping, lighting fires, swimming, fishing, metal detecting or taking anything from the land. Cycling is permitted on certain types of track.

Within the New Forest, horse-riding is permitted on much of the access land.

Whether walking or riding, please consider keeping to main tracks and keeping dogs close during the ground nesting bird nesting season between 1 March and 31 July to avoid disturbing these rare birds.

Whenever you are out in the countryside, please act responsibly and please follow the Countryside Code.

Can access be restricted?

Yes, the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 allows for certain restrictions to be placed on access land.

Some areas are exempt from access rights. These include land within 20 metres of a dwelling, arable land, active quarries or landfill sites and railway lines.

Details of any current restrictions, and of how to apply for a restriction to access, can be found on the Natural England website.

National Park Chairman


'We must all work together to manage recreation and ensure the Forest is fit for the future.'

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