3000 miles of paths to explore
The Cotswolds countryside is not open everywhere for walkers to roam at will but many sections of it that were previously off-limits have been opened up for public access as a result of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. New access rights came into effect across the whole of England on Monday 31 October 2005 when three quarters of a million hectares of land that was previously off-limits to walkers was opened up. This move is rooted in a 100-year-old campaign to allow people to wander the wilder parts of Britain at will.
Walkers now have greater freedom to enjoy and understand the Cotswolds AONB. In Gloucestershire for instance 3,700 hectares of land has been opened up for public access.
Where to find out about Access land
People have the right to access areas of land marked on ‘conclusive maps’ which can be found at the Natural England website. Access land is also shown on the new editions of the orange OS Explorer maps. On the newly mapped land you can do anything from rambling to bird watching but along with these new rights, come responsibilities. Remember that these areas of land are still privately owned and that the farmers or land manager’s needs should be respected. For more background go to the Countryside Access website.
When walking in the Cotswolds, please remember the Countryside Code:
- Be safe – plan ahead and follow any signs
- Leave gates and property as you find them
- Protect plants and animals, and take your litter home
- Keep dogs under close control
- Consider other people
Local tourist information offices provide details of walks in their areas and a number of organisations offer guided walks, including:
- Local branches of the Ramblers’ Association www.ramblers.org.uk
- Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust www.gloucestershirewildlifetrust.co.uk
- Gloucestershire Geoconservation Trust www.glosgeotrust.org.uk
If you want to find out more about walking opportunities and share your own favorite walks you could try a new online application from Ordnance Survey.’ Explore’ allows you to create and share your routes with the world, and join in with ones that already exist. Click here to find out more.
Click on the links below to see access websites from all of the local authorities in the AONB: