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Weekly Edition - Publication date:- 2017-02-12

-en Southport & Mersey Reporter

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Access all areas? 17 years of the 'right to roam' in the North West

THE Ramblers launches a guide to help people in the North West enjoy their 'right to roam' as research reveals that 70% haven't heard of open access. 17 years ago (30 November 2000) the Countryside and Rights of Way Act was passed, which revolutionised access to the countryside by opening up more than a million hectares for everyone to explore. But new YouGov research commissioned by the Ramblers has shown that only 30% of adults in the North West have heard of the right of open access. However, once the term was explained, 36% said they had used this right in 2016.  50% of people in England would be more likely to use access land if they knew more about their rights, so the Ramblers has produced a free guide giving people all the information they need to confidently explore open countryside.

Chief executive of the Ramblers, Vanessa Griffiths said:- "17 years ago we saw an Act passed that gave us the right to walk over much of our mountain, moorland, heathland and down and common land. But this research tells us that not everyone knows about the right of open access or understands what it means. Simply put, if you're on access land, you have the right to leave the footpath, walk freely and explore wild, open landscapes. We're encouraged to see that the younger generation are leading the way in making the most of these hard won access rights; 18 to 24 year olds are using open access land more than any other age group, followed by 25 to 34 year olds. But we want everyone to be able to enjoy the freedom that access land brings, which is why we've produced our free guide."

Access rights have enabled thousands of walkers to step off the path and explore beautiful landscapes every day, as well as giving people the chance to enjoy other outdoor activities, from running and climbing to photography, orienteering and birdwatching. The Ramblers guide promotes responsible access. It details where people can and can't walk, any restrictions that apply to open access land and outlines the responsibilities everyone must respect to protect and enjoy the outdoors.  With the YouGov results suggesting that only a minority of people know about their access rights, the Ramblers is also seeking to find out more about people's walking habits and their thoughts on access in the future. People are being asked to share their views by visiting:- Ramblers.Org.UK/Accesssurvey.


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