Countryside - information
Here you can find out about your access rights across Scotland.
You may find the links on the right useful when planning your next walk or trip.
For further Information on West Lothian's Countryside, please refer to the Services links to the left.
Frequently Asked Questions
Click a question to see the answer.
Yes. Access rights are very different. In England and Wales the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 applies. This gives rights of free access for walkers only in certain areas that are mapped, though you will be able to use rights of way elsewhere. This web address will give more information: http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/ourwork/enjoying/places/openaccess/default.aspx In Scotland, on the other hand, you can go anywhere that is not specifically excluded, provided that you behave responsibly.
No. The access rights apply across Scotland for countryside and urban areas.
In terms of the rights to take access, behaving responsibly means acting lawfully and reasonably and not causing unreasonable interference with the rights and interests of others. The Scottish Outdoor Access Code is the reference point for guidance on responsibility, both for land managers and for those exercising the rights. Three basic principles underpin all the advice in the Code: respect the interests of other people, care for the environment, and take responsibility for your own actions.
You can exercise access rights for crossing land and water, for recreational purposes, for educational purposes, and for some commercial purposes. There is no definition of 'recreational purposes', but the Access Code suggests a range of countryside activities that would be appropriate, including cycling, horse riding and wild camping. 'Education' is for the understanding of the natural or cultural heritage. Access rights apply above and below the land, and can be exercised in groups. The Access Code gives special advice on groups and events. You can exercise access rights at any time but you should take special care not to disturb local residents when close to property after dark.
Under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, certain activities are excluded from the exercise of access rights: the use of a motorised vehicle or vessel (except special vehicles for disabled people); field sports; or when with a dog or other animal which is not under proper control. There is a right to cross a golf course, but not of recreation on it.
You can get copies of the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 and the Scottish Outdoor Access Code from Scottish Natural Heritage's Publications Section. Telephone: 01463 725000, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org to request a copy. You can also find useful information on www.outdooraccess-scotland.com