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Countryside and coastal access

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These pages set out what we are doing to help people in Wales walk and cycle more as part of their everyday lives.
This Action Plan explains how the Welsh Government and our partners are supporting walking and cycling in Wales.
Public footpath sign

The public and visitors have the right to walk on 20% of Wales.

This covers 360,000 hectares of open country and registered common land, and 100,000 hectares of Forestry Commission land. This land is spread across Wales, and some of it is within the National Parks.

Countryside & Rights of Way (CROW) Act 2000

The Countryside & Rights of Way Act 2000 gives walkers access to the countryside and amends the law on public rights of way within it. This came into force in Wales on 28 May 2005. All open country and registered common land has been mapped in Wales by The Countryside Council for Wales (CCW). Further information on this can be found on their website.

Visit: The Natural Resources Wales website (external link)

Visit: Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (external link)

We can create secondary laws on rights of way covering:

  • Part I Access Land (including maps); 
  • Part II Rights of Way; 
  • Part III Sites of Special Scientific Interest; 
  • Part IV Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty; and 
  • Part V Local Access Forums.

Walking and cycling

Walking and cycling are excellent ways to get out into our natural environment. They are also cheap, healthy and environmentally friendly ways of travelling. Our footpaths  and cycle routes are important assets.

In 2009, we launched a Walking and Cycling Action Plan for Wales 2009-2013. It encourages more walking and cycling so people use their cars less often. The plan contains targets to increase walking and cycling in children and adults.

Coastal access and the Wales Coast Path

Our Coastal Access Improvement Programme (CAIP) aims to improve existing coastal paths and to develop new routes. The Wales Coast Path was completed and  opened on 05 May 2012.

Work is continuing to ensure everyone can use the path, including cyclists, disabled people and horse riders.

Access to water

The Splash fund is managed by NRW. It provides funding to increase safe and responsible access to water while considering the needs of the environment and different groups of people.

More information on all the above can be found by following the links on the left.