Responsible access

The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 gives everyone access rights for walking, cycling, horse riding and all other forms of non-motorised access, to most land and inland water.

Access rights only apply if they are exercised responsibly by respecting people’s privacy, safety and livelihoods, and Scotland’s environment. Access rights and responsibilities are explained fully in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code. A summary of your main responsibilities, as listed in the code, is also provided below.

Take personal responsibility for your own actions. You can do this by:

  • caring for your own safety by recognising that the outdoors is a working environment and by taking account of natural hazards;
  • taking special care if you are responsible for children as a parent, teacher or guide to ensure that they enjoy the outdoors responsibly and safely.

Respect people's privacy and peace of mind. You can do this by:

  • using a path or track, if there is one, when you are close to a house or garden;
  • if there is no path or track, by keeping a sensible distance from houses and avoiding ground that overlooks them from close by;
  • taking care not to act in ways that might annoy or alarm people living in a house; and
  • at night, taking extra care by keeping away from buildings where people might not be expecting to see anyone and by following paths and tracks.

Help land managers and others to work safely and effectively. You can do this by:

  • not hindering a land management operation, by keeping a safe distance and following any reasonable advice from the land manager;
  • follow any precautions taken or reasonable recommendations made by the land manager, such as to avoid an area or route when hazardous operations, such as tree felling or crop spraying, are under way;
  • checking to see what alternatives there are, such as neighbouring land, before entering a field of animals;
  • never feed farm animals;
  • avoid causing damage to crops by using paths or tracks, by going round the margins of a field, by going on any unsown ground or by considering alternative routes on neighbouring ground; and by
  • leaving gates as you find them.

Care for your environment. You can do this by:

  • not intentionally or recklessly disturbing or destroying plants, birds and other animals, or geological features;
  • follow any voluntary agreements between land managers and recreation bodies;
  • not damaging or disturbing cultural sites;
  • not causing any pollution by taking all your litter away with you.

Keep your dog under proper control. You can do this by:

  • never letting it worry livestock;
  • never taking it into a field where there are calves or lambs;
  • keeping it on a short lead or under close control in fields where there are farm animals;
  • if cattle react aggressively and move towards you, by keeping calm, letting the dog go and taking the shortest, safest route out of the field;
  • keeping it on a short lead or under close control during the bird breeding season (usually April to July) in areas such as moorland, forests, grassland, loch shores and the seashore;
  • picking up and removing any faeces if your dog defecates in a public open place. 

Take extra care if you are organising an event or running a business. You can do this by:

  • contacting the relevant land managers if you are organising an educational visit to a farm or estate;
  • obtaining the permission of the relevant land managers if your event needs facilities or services, or is likely, to an unreasonable extent, to hinder land management operations, interfere with other people enjoying the outdoors or affect the environment;
  • talking to land managers who are responsible for places that you use regularly or intensively.  

Although the Land Reform Act establishes a right of responsible access to most land, generally people prefer to use paths. As the country park is developed a network of paths is being established.