Countryside Rights of Way Act, 2000
The Countryside Rights of Way Act 2000 marked the start of Open Access. It allowed huge swathes of previously no-go areas, to become Open Access, meaning that you can walk wherever you want on it. It was unimproved land that was made into Open Access - i.e. land that hadn't been farmed, or improved in any way. On the 1:25000 OS maps, it is shown with a "yellow wash" with a brownish boundary, so it is clear where Open Access is.
However, this doesn't mean you can always get there. One of the good things about showing the Rights of Way on a map is that when there is a solid boundary such as a wall or fence, you can see where you can cross that boundary, because the RoW takes you right up to it. In Open Access, where do you cross a boundary?
It is not acceptable to climb over fences or walls. Farmers have to maintain their own boundaries, and, having been in that situation myself, I know that it is not cheap to replace or rebuild fences and walls. Believe it or not, I have heard people say "well, it's open access I have a right to go here, it's their fault for not putting in a stile". It is those kind of remarks that I dread. It is what gives us, as walkers, a bad name.
Thankfully, most walkers are very considerate people. But, as in all walks of life (excuse the pun), there will always be people who let you down. The number of times I see burnt out disposable barbeques, empty beer bottles, MacDonalds wrappers, Costa Coffee cups - all thrown out into the countryside, is nobody's business. Who does this? Why? I take it they have all come out to enjoy the outdoors, the peace, the tranquility, getting away from the trappings of life. So why do they think it is ok to leave their rubbish behind? And don't even get me started on dog poo bags thrown in a tree or hung on a gate.......
The CRoW Act 2000 should be read in conjunction with The Countryside Code - or Codes. There is more than one code as separate codes have been written for:
The Wild Swimming Code
The Angling Code
The Canoeing Code
The Waterside Code
The Dog Walking Code
The Trail Users Code