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Camping in Pentlands

Outdoor access Rights and Code in Scotland

When heading outdoors, it’s important to know what we can do, where you can go and how you should behave. In general you have board access rights in Scotland. It’s also important to note that access rights in England is much more limited and following is Scotland specific.

Outdoor Access Rights are defined in Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 that gives everyone statutory access rights to most land and inland water. It wouldn’t be Scottish regulation if golf courses weren’t mentioned 🙂 Outdoor Access Code defines how you should behave when you are enjoying your rights. With rights comes also responsibility. Well, actually it’s just common sense how to behave outdoors.

As a Finn, I see that Scotland’s Outdoor Access Rights are very similar to Finnish Everyman’s Rights even thought there are differences. If you are interested about Finnish rights, you can read about them in English from here.  In practice I don’t see many big differences, while the biggest ones might be that you are allowed to collect wild berries and mushrooms for any use and go angling / ice fishing in Finland while those aren’t part of the Scottish regulations.


Access rights

  • Everyone has the statutory right of access
  • Access rights apply to all land and inland waters, unless excluded (as below)
  • Access rights are for outdoor recreation, for crossing land and water, and for some educational and commercial purposes
  • Exercising access rights, and managing access land, must be done responsibly.

Where access rights do not apply

  • Houses and gardens, and non-residential buildings and associated land
  • Farm buildings and yards
  • Land in which crops have been sown or are growing (although please note that the headrigs, endrigs and other margins of fields where crops are growing are not defined as crops, whether sown or unsown, and are therefore within access rights).
  • Land next to a school and used by the school
  • Sports or playing fields when these are in use and where the exercise of access rights would interfere with such use
  • Land developed and in use for recreation and where the exercise of access rights would interfere with such use
  • Golf courses (but you can cross a golf course provided you don’t interfere with any games of golf)
  • Places like airfields, railways, telecommunication sites, military bases and installations, working quarries and construction sites, and
  • Visitor attractions or other places which charge for entry.

Which activities are excluded from access rights?

Access rights don’t extend to:

  • Being on or crossing land for the purpose of doing anything which is an offence, such as theft, breach of the peace, nuisance, poaching, allowing a dog to worry livestock, dropping litter, polluting water or disturbing certain wild birds, animals and plants
  • Hunting, shooting, fishing
  • Any form of motorised recreation or passage
  • Anyone responsible for a dog which is not under proper control
  • Anyone taking away anything from the land for a commercial purpose.

Read more from :


Outdoor Access Code

Scottish outdoor access code is based on three key principles.

Take responsibility for your own actions

The outdoors is a great place to enjoy but it’s also a working environment and natural hazards exist. Make sure you are aware of this, take care of yourself and others with you, including your dog.

Respect the interests of others

Respect the needs of other people enjoying or working in the outdoors and follow any reasonable advice from land managers. Respect people’s privacy and peace of mind. Avoid causing alarm to people, especially at night, by keeping a reasonable distance from houses and gardens or by using paths or tracks.

Care for the environment

Our environment contributes greatly to everyone’s health and quality of life so treat it with care.
Take your rubbish home and consider picking up other litter as well. Don’t disturb or damage wildlife or historic places. Keep your dog on a short lead or under close control where needed.

Read more from here.