Walking, Cycling and Horse Riding – Maps and Open Access Land

Cycling, riding and walking routes and maps in West Berkshire

Walking and cycling have an enormous benefit on our health, and can also be great fun – we provide information, maps and leaflets on recommended routes for walking, riding and cycling in the West Berkshire countryside on this page.

We also provide information on walking and cycling maps and routes as transport for commuting, and in more urban areas, and on sustainable walking and cycling to school, including incentives for walking and cycling.

Walking and Cycling Maps and Routes
Maps, routes, journey planning and information for pedestrian and bike travel

Walking and cycling around the district is fun and easy, with a large number of planned routes to help keep you safe, avoid busy roads, and get you to your destination faster. There’s a number of different walking and cycling maps on this page to help you find the best way of getting around town, or to explore the area. They have been individually drawn to show paths and routes which are open for you to use on foot or by bike.

Open Access land

The public can legally walk freely on mapped areas of mountain, moor, heath, downland and registered common land without having to stick to defined paths.

In West Berkshire there are areas of open access on commons, heath and downland – the maps for these locations, along with information on rights, responsibilities and access restrictions, are available on the Natural England website

Use your right to roam

You can access some land across England without having to use paths – this land is known as ‘open access land’ or ‘access land’.

Access land includes mountains, moors, heaths and downs that are privately owned. It also includes common land registered with the local council and some land around the England Coast Path.

Your right to access this land is called the ‘right to roam’, or ‘freedom to roam’.

What you can and cannot do

You can use access land for walking, running, watching wildlife and climbing. 

There are certain activities you cannot usually do on open access land, including:

  • horse-riding
  • cycling
  • camping
  • taking animals other than dogs on to the land
  • driving a vehicle (except mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs)
  • water sports

But you can use access land for horse-riding and cycling if: 

  • the landowner allows it
  • public bridleways or byways cross the land – horse riders and cyclists can ride along these
  • there are local traditions, or rights, of access
Dogs on open access land

You must keep your dog on a lead no more than 2 metres long on open access land:

  • between 1 March and 31 July – to protect ground-nesting birds
  • at all times around livestock

On land next to the England Coast Path you must keep your dog under close control.

There may be other local or seasonal restrictions. These do not apply to public rights of way or assistance dogs.

Excepted land

On access land some areas remain private (‘excepted land’). You do not have the right to access these areas, even if they appear on a map of open access land.

Excepted land includes:

  • houses, buildings and the land they’re on (such as courtyards)
  • land used to grow crops
  • building sites and land that’s being developed
  • parks and gardens
  • golf courses and racecourses
  • railways and tramways
  • working quarries

Use public rights of way to cross excepted land.

Find open access land

Search for open access land in England and find out about land that’s currently closed to walkers.

Find open access land in Wales.

Contact the local council to find common land near you.

Report problems with open access land

You can report problems to the local access authority – contact them through the local council.

If the problem is in a national park, you can contact them directly.

You can also contact the Open Access Contact Centre for information about open access land in England.

Natural England

In common with most organisations dealing with the effects of coronavirus (COVID-19), Natural England is continuing to follow the latest government guidance and taking all steps necessary to protect our staff and help prevent the spread of the virus.

We know that many people across the country rely on our services and even with current restrictions, we expect to continue to provide our full range of services. This includes the advice and guidance we offer, our regulatory work, and helping to maintain the public’s access to nature in a safe and responsible way. We continue to monitor the impact of coronavirus on staff capacity, which has been reduced by staff illness and caring responsibilities, especially following school closures.

We are seeing some delivery pressures in some localities and in some business areas, such as advice to planning authorities and developers. We will prioritise critical casework on which customers depend and with significant environmental, economic or social implications, but may not meet our published service standards across all areas, or be able to respond in detail to all consultations. Our teams will do their best to agree revised timelines where possible.

We will continue to assess which of our planned field visits, surveys or regulatory farm visits can take place during this period of national lockdown and wherever possible remote working technology will be employed to help our customers deliver good environmental outcomes on their land. Where necessary enforcement visits will continue to ensure that our protected sites are looked after in an appropriate manner. We will not be holding meetings with partners and stakeholders face to face but will find alternative methods of group communication to continue good working partnerships.

Our National Nature Reserves (NNRs) remain open for visitors, and essential management work and volunteering activity will continue where safe to do so.

While our offices that are currently open will remain so for business-critical work, they continue to have reduced capacity in line with health and safety guidelines. Over the period of national restrictions, most staff will continue to do office-based work from home.

The coronavirus crisis has continued to show us that a thriving and accessible natural environment is vital to the nation. We continue therefore to progress the government’s key policy ambitions for the environment, such as the 25 Year Environment Plan, the commitment to move towards net zero and the role of nature in mental and physical health, as well as ensuring that environmental law is maintained through our regulatory activities.

Although we have established effective ways of working within current restrictions the situation continues to develop and we will continue to publish updates on any changes here.

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