What rights do members of the public have to access isolated areas of open access land, if any at all? That is to say areas of access land which are (i) not crossed by and do not adjoin any public rights of way or (ii) areas of access land which are separated from all other nearby access land and rights of way by excepted land. Examples of such land can be found in these locations:

As far as I can tell, no specific provision is made for cases such as this in the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000:

“means of access”, in relation to land, means

(a) any opening in a wall, fence or hedge bounding the land (or part of the land), with or without a gate, stile or other works for regulating passage through the opening,

(b) any stairs or steps for enabling persons to enter on the land (or part of the land), or

(c) any bridge, stepping stone or other works for crossing a watercourse, ditch or bog on the land or adjoining the boundary of the land.

This appears to make the implicit assumption that the relevant access land will be adjacent to some form of right of way.

  • 1
    The property may have an access easement. If the other property owner didn't explicitly grant such an easement, there is also mention on that page of "easement by necessity". Commented May 8, 2019 at 22:05
  • Looking at both of your examples on Google Maps satellite view, the first has obvious access via a path and the second has no clear barrier between it and the land to the north of it (and on to the road). I'd suggest that in those specific cases, the Streetmap information might be wrong or incomplete - but that doesn't answer your underlying question.
    – user4210
    Commented May 9, 2019 at 0:14
  • You are quite correct in your observation about the first example, however that track isn't recorded on the definitive map as used by Ordnance Survey (shown on Streetmap). For example 2 the railway line that forms the eastern border of the parcel of access land is excepted land (as defined in schedule 1 of the CRoW Act 2000) separating it entirely from the access land on the opposite side of the railway.
    – o.comp
    Commented May 9, 2019 at 8:10
  • There is a further example of this occurring here streetmap.co.uk/…
    – o.comp
    Commented Apr 12, 2020 at 13:48

2 Answers 2


If, as your question stipulates, there are no public rights of way (such as an easement) to the enclaved public area, then you must gain permission from the private landowner to cross their land before accessing the public area.

If it's possible to fly over the private land using something like a helicopter or a plane, as long as you fly high enough, That wouldn't require permission.

  • Likewise, you could dig a tunnel deep enough.
    – Greendrake
    Commented May 17, 2020 at 7:47

What rights do members of the public have to access isolated areas of open access land, if any at all?

It depends as it's at the discretion of the private landowner(s).

According to the Ordnance Survey's* 1:25k legend:

Access land portrayed on this map is intended as a guide to land normally available for access on foot, for example access land created under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, and land managed by National Trust, Forestry England, Woodland Trust and Natural Resources Wales. Some restrictions will apply; some land shown as access land may not have open access rights; always refer to local signage.

I note that example 1 is in the Snowdonia National Park, examples 2 and 4 are in the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and example 3 is in the Northumberland National Park so it's quite possible there may be local signage allowing permissive access that has not been captured on the maps.

I also note that in example 4 a bridge crosses over the railway line allowing access to the western side of the tracks from the eastern parcel (it is unnamed and to the east of the words Scale Gill Bridge).

unnamed bridge

Example 5 is not within any national park, and according to Street View the fenced track to the south is gated with no obvious local signage.

*The Ordnance Survey's National Geographic Database is the primary source for these types of maps.

  • Railway rails and constructions they rest upon are usually off limits to anyone
    – Trish
    Commented Feb 18, 2021 at 16:42
  • The lines are, but not the crossing points such as a bridge going over the top or a subway going underneath.
    – user35069
    Commented Feb 18, 2021 at 16:43
  • This bridge does not appear to be part of the railway's infrastructure - see imbedded image.
    – user35069
    Commented Feb 18, 2021 at 17:05
  • 1
    Oh yes, that is not railway No-Go area. I misread what you meant to say
    – Trish
    Commented Feb 18, 2021 at 17:11

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