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Outdoor access in Scotland

Visitors to Scotland have some of the best access rights in the world. Under the Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003, you have the right to be on most land and inland water for recreation, education and travel, providing you act responsibly.

 

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code

The code outlines conduct for walkers that differs slightly to the rest of the UK, bearing in mind the wider rights of access to private land.

• Take responsibility for your own actions

• Be aware of natural hazards and take care of yourself and others

• Respect the interests, privacy and peace of mind of of others

• Take your rubbish home and pick up other litter as well

• Don't disturb or damage wildlife or historic places

• Keep your dog under close control where needed

Download the Scottish Outdoor Access Code leaflet

 

The right to roam in Scotland

In Scotland, walkers can walk on most land for recreation, education and travel, including farmland except where crops are growing. This is a much different situation to the rest of the UK.

Places accessible include urban parks, hills and woods, most grass fields and field margins, beaches, lochs, rivers and canals.

Places and activities excluded are buildings and their surroundings, houses and gardens, most land where crops are growing, golf courses, industrial sites, motorised activities, and hunting, shooting and fishing.

Act with respect, including others working or enjoying the outdoors; respect people's privacy and peace of mind, keep a reasonable distance from houses and gardens and use paths and tracks. Ensure your dog is under control at all times.

Care for the environment: take your litter home, pick up other rubbish, don't disturb wildlife or damage wild or historic places. Keep your dog on a lead or under close control where needed.

 

Public Rights of Way, such as public footpaths or bridleways, are unaffected and continue to exist in Scotland and can be used as normal, even where they pass over land excluded from open access rights.

Most stag stalking takes place between July and October, although this does vary. Follow signs or advice from the land manager to ensure you stay safe. Deer stalking is necessary to manage deer populations sustainably, ensuring there is enough grazing for the deer and other animals.

To avoid your dog disturbing ground nesting birds, keep your dog on a short lead or under close control in areas such as moorland, loch and sea shoes between April and July.

Access rights extend to wild camping, except where seasonal camping restrictions apply.

 

More WildAdvice for Scotland: Scottish Outdoor Access Code summaryFull Scottish Outdoor Access CodeEnjoying Scotland's Outdoors • A-Z Practical Guide to Scottish AccessHill walking & stalking • Off-Road Cycling: good practice adviceDog Owners: what the Scottish Outdoor Access Code means for youHorse Riding ResponsiblyCanoer's Access CodeWild CampingToiletting in the outdoors

 

Elgol village with the Black Cuillins behind (May 2010) [© Steve Marshall/Wild Future Photo]

 

 
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