There’s nothing wrong with sticking to established walkways when exploring the wilderness. But sometimes, don’t you fancy getting off the beaten path? In the UK, you can quite literally get off the beaten path thanks to the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, which gives you the freedom to access certain areas without paths.
So, what exactly is the Right to Roam? And where are the best places in the UK to exercise it? About the UK’s Right to Roam
The Right to Roam explained
Essentially, the Right to Roam gives you access to what’s referred to as ‘open access land’, which includes 3 million acres of mountains, moors, downs and heaths, many of which remain privately owned. When exploring open access land, you don’t need to stick to pathways, perfect for serious climbers, hikers, runners and wildlife watchers.
Generally, you can’t cycle, camp or take animals other than dogs onto private land without the landowner’s permission, and you might need to keep your dog on a lead. Still, the Right to Roam opens up a world of exploration right here in the UK. So which places should be on your bucket list?
Dunkery Beacon, Exmoor
For stunning panoramic views over the moors of Somerset, head to Dunkery Beacon, the highest point in the county. You’re free to reach the summit via any route you like. But if you’d prefer to stick to the map, you can follow trails that start from Horner Wood. Novices might want to hike to the summit from the nearby town of Porlock.
The Yorkshire Dales covers an expansive area, spilling over into the neighbouring county of Lancashire. Some of the highest peaks of the Yorkshire Dales are located in Gragareth and Whernside, where all but the valley is classified as open access land. Look out for the Twisleton Scars limestone pavements – they’re some of the nation’s finest examples.
Pumlumon, Central Wales
There’s plenty of stunning wilderness to explore in Wales, but some of the best open access land can be found in Pumlumon. A hotspot for birdwatchers, Pumlumon is also a hiker’s paradise thanks to its rugged mountainous terrain. A circular walk starts from (we know it’s difficult to say) Eisteddfa Gurig and passes by Y Garn, Pumlumon Fawr, Pumlumon Arwystli and Carnfachbugeiln. Along the way, you’ll see three rivers, bronze age cairns and lots of beautiful fauna.
The Lake District
The Lake District National Park has inspired poets and authors such as Beatrix Potter. And, you’re free to roam just about anywhere, though narrowing down your options might prove challenging. If sweeping views are what you’re after, ascend to a summit such as Skiddaw or Scafell Pike, which is the highest mountain in England. Don’t forget to book a tour of the Lake District while you’re here.
Loch Lomond, Scotland
Loch Lomond is a stunning body of water that forms part of the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. In its surrounding highlands, you can see beautiful oak woodlands and – if you’re lucky – a red deer or two.
When you want to return to a designated pathway, follow the Luss Heritage Path for spectacular views of the rolling countryside and the stone cottages of Luss Village.