Permissive access means a route or area on private land that the landowner has given permission for people to use. Permissive access routes are not generally shown on maps because they are not permanent and there might not be a formal agreement in place.
Permissive access can be a useful addition to local paths and other networks and provide access for residents and visitors to countryside and woodland as well as to certain urban areas.
Permissive access may also provide access to local amenities or areas or features of interest that were previously inaccessible, such as viewpoints, historical and archaeological sites, heritage trees and diverse landscapes.
Permissive paths and permissive area access are not covered by laws relating to Public Rights of Way or Access Land under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. There are, however, similar provisions that do apply. For example, the route should not be blocked by overhanging vegetation.
Agreements and duty of care
If an agreement has been made between the landowner and the highway authority, the authority might be willing to take up any problems encountered when using a permissive path, although there is no obligation to do so. In some cases, an agreement will allocate responsibilities between the land owner and the authority.
Landowners have a duty of care to those using permissive access to cross their land.
Examples of permissive access
The following are examples of the types of access that permissive access can provide:
- Additional access, in places where access rights already exist. For example, this may allow horse riders or cyclists to use a path which is a public footpath. If people want to cycle, ride horses or drive along permissive routes, or camp on land with permissive access, they need the permission of the landowner as access is usually allowed only on foot
- 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, usually on foot
- 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. This may be a climbing club agreeing access to a crag, for example, or a horse riding group negotiating access for additional riding routes or areas. Such schemes are varied and they may require membership of a particular group or club. They may also require people accessing land to observe certain rules or restrictions, to pay for access or to make a contribution towards the upkeep of the access or area
- Access across agricultural land provided within Government-funded schemes such as Glastir, which is a sustainable land management scheme that has been run by the Welsh Government since 2013. The Targeted Element (TE) of Glastir started in 2013 and provided 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 public access to certain routes or certain areas
- Country Parks 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 parking cars or use of facilities. There may also be charges for entry on days when special events are being held
- Cycle tracks are another type of public route created specifically for cycling. Sometimes the public will be able to walk or ride horses on them too. Many trails on the Welsh Government woodland, managed by Natural Resources Wales, have been developed for mountain biking or gentle family cycling and horse riding, as well as walking and running. The National Cycle Network also includes many such routes; these are promoted by Sustrans. Cycling is allowed on bridleways and restricted byways. Some areas will have developed networks of permissive routes
- Many National Nature Reserves and woodlands which are managed by NRW also have permissive access. Check our Recreation Map to find out where the routes and trails are across Wales
How to tell if an area allows permissive access?
The following points may be of use in identifying land or areas which allow permissive access:
- Permissive paths are not generally shown on Ordnance Survey maps, because they are not permanent. Some paths are shown, however, particularly where they form part of a promoted route
- Glastir routes will be clearly signed and waymarked, both on the ground and at the entrance to any access
- Sometimes there will be a notice at each end of the route to draw attention to the route's existence and outline any conditions set by the owner. It may be, for example, that use is restricted to daylight hours, that dogs must be on a lead, or that the path is closed at certain times of the year. A landowner may also put up a legally-worded notice to the effect that he or she does not intend the path to become dedicated as a public right of way
- Some permissive access areas and paths may be closed at certain times of the year, to allow forestry or agricultural operations (such as harvesting, lambing or heather burning), or to protect sensitive sites (for example, during rare birds' nesting season). Please be sure to take notice of, and obey, any signage
Are dogs allowed on permissive paths?
Whether dogs are allowed or not will depend entirely on the permission given by the landowner. Dogs should be kept on a lead to ensure they do not harm farm animals, nesting birds or other wildlife.
Always check information online or on notices
Information provided on websites, or on notices provided at the entrance to permissive paths or area, should state whether dogs are allowed or not.
Dogs should be kept on a lead to ensure they do not harm farm animals, nesting birds or other wildlife.