What is permissive access?
Permissive access is where landowners allow
people to go through private land, even when the public do not have
any legal access.
Permissive access opportunities can offer a useful addition to
local paths and other networks, providing access for locals and
visitors in and around urban areas, to countryside and woodland.
They can provide access to local amenities or areas or features of
interest that have been previously inaccessible, such as
viewpoints, historical and archaeological sites, heritage trees and
Permissive paths and permissive area access are not covered by
the law relating to Public Rights of Way or Access land under the
Countryside and Rights of Way Act but there are some similar
provisions that apply. For example, the route should not be blocked
by overhanging vegetation. If an agreement has been made between
the landowner and the highway authority then the authority might be
willing to take up any problems that you encounter with using a
permissive path, although they are not obliged to do so. In some
cases an agreement allocates responsibilities between the land
owner and the authority. If this is not the case, then you will
have to request the assistance of the landowner over any
Land owners have a duty of care to those using permissive access
across their land.
What land is covered by permissive access?
Permissive paths or areas may be provided on any private land.
The access may or may not be provided through a formal agreement.
Examples of permissive access are:
- Additional access where there are existing rights (e.g.
allowing horse riders or cyclists to use a path which is a public
footpath). If you want to cycle, horseride, drive along permissive
routes or camp on land with permissive access, you need the
permission of the landowner as access is usually only allowed on
- National Trust land and land with National Park access
agreements where the landowner or tenant of the land has agreed to
allow public access for open-air recreation, normally on foot. The
Forestry Commission also provide for mountain biking on land which
they have dedicated under CRoW.
- Land with an agreement between a land owner and a specific
group of users. In these cases users negotiate with the land owner
for access to a particular route or area to carry out their
activity e.g. a climbing club may agree access to a crag; similarly
a horse riding group may negotiate access for additional riding
routes or areas. Such schemes are very varied and they may require:
membership of a particular group or club; for people using the
access to observe certain rules or restrictions; payment for the
access, or a contribution to looking after the access or area.
- Access across agricultural land provided within Government
funded schemes such as Tir Gofal and from 2013, Glastir. Glastir is
the new sustainable land management scheme run by the Welsh
Government which replaces Tir Gofal from 2012. The Targeted Element
(TE) of Glastir starts in 2013 and will provide an option for
providing permissive access. Farmers and woodland owners can enter
into five year agreements to manage their farms in an
environmentally sensitive way and this can include allowing access
to the public on certain routes or in certain areas. All these
routes will be clearly signed and waymarked on the ground and shown
on CCW’s Outdoor Wales onLine maps. There will also be signs and
waymarking provided on the ground at the entrance to Glastir
- Country Parks. These can be found throughout Wales. A few are
owned and managed privately, by the National Trust for example, but
most belong to local authorities or other public bodies. Entry is
usually free, although there may be a charge for car parking or the
use of facilities, or on days when special events are being
- The National Trust - has other land to which it allows access,
including tracts of mountain land and coastline. Check out the
National Trust website for more information on their permissive
How do I know if land allows permissive access?
Permissive paths are not generally shown on Ordnance Survey
maps, because they are not permanent, although some are shown,
particularly where they form part of a promoted route.
Permissive access is coloured purple on CCW’s Outdoor Wales
onLine map and includes some land covered by Tir Gofal agreements,
which give access to specified parts of the farm.
Sometimes there will be a notice at each end of the route
explaining this and outlining any conditions that the owner has
set. It may be, for example, that use is restricted to daylight
hours, that dogs must be on a lead, or that the path may be closed
at certain times of the year. There may also be a legally worded
notice to the effect that the owner does not intend the path to
become dedicated as a public right of way.
Some of the permissive access areas and paths may be closed at
certain times of the year to allow agricultural operations (e.g.
lambing, heather burning) and to protect sensitive sites (e.g.
during nesting of rare birds).
Can I take my dog?
This depends on the permission given by the landowner. A
landowner can choose whether to allow dogs on permissive access or
not. For example, from 2013 the Glastir TE access scheme will allow
a landholder to provide permissive paths for people with or without
dogs. You therefore need to check and follow the instructions
Currently, on Tir Gofal permissive paths, dogs must be kept on a
short fixed lead at all times whilst on permissive access routes or
areas – although access for dogs may be stopped altogether at
certain times of the year.
Generally you can take the dog along, unless there is a
restriction stopping you from doing so. Information provided on the
web site or on notices provided at the entrance to the permissive
path or area should tell you whether dogs are allowed or not.
If in doubt, keep your dog on a lead so there is no chance of it
harming farm animals, nesting birds or other wildlife. However, if
a farm animal chases you or your dog, it is safer to let your dog
off the lead or let go of the lead – don’t risk getting hurt by
trying to protect it.