Countryside Access

We are the statutory highway authority and manage 7645 km of public right of way in Cumbria in partnership with the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District National Parks.

Under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act we also manage 2137 square kilometres of open access land giving the public a right to walk freely in areas of mountain, moor, common and village greens.

The information on this web page is designed to help people who have public access on their property and also to provide information for people using this access in its various forms.


Public rights of way in Cumbria map - please note this is only an illustration and not the definitive map.

The definitive map and statement are paper documents detailing the legal alignment of public rights of way in Cumbria. You can make an appointment to view the map at:  

  • The Parkhouse Building, Carlisle 
  • South Lakeland District Council, Kendal 
  • Copeland Borough Council, Whitehaven
  • Barrow Borough Council Barrow
  • Allerdale Borough Council, Workington
  • Eden District Council, Penrith
  • Carlisle City Council 


If you need to identify the alignment of a public right of way for legal purposes it is recommended that you carry out a highways search.

Modification to the Definitive Map and Statement

Any amendments to the Definitive Map and Statement either to change the particulars of a route shown, or to add or delete a path from the map, can only be achieved by a Map Modification Order.  

Guidance and the application form for this process: 


Registers of all outstanding Definitive Map Modification Order (DMMO) applications - being dealt with by Cumbria County Council and by the Lake District National Park Authority. 

Any queries contact countryside.access@cumbria.gov.uk

Diversion /Extinguishment /Creation

Cumbria County Council has powers to process applications for Public Path Orders under the Highways Act 1980. The County Council will use its discretion to assess the merits of each application, considering both the needs of users of the public path network and the landowner and/or interested parties. 

Currently the County Council keeps a register to manage all new applications in accordance with the date received, unless there are exceptional circumstances.  An indication of timescale can be given during initial discussions, once the proposal can be detailed. 

Public Path Orders guidance note (PDF 473KB)

If you are carrying out works on or affecting a public right of way you need to apply for a Temporary Closure Order under Section 14 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984. You must enclose a plan marking the right of way or section of the right of way that you require closing.


We require 12 weeks' notice in order to process your application.

It is only possible to grant a closure for up to 6 months but the order may be extended with the approval of the Department of Transport where applicable. 

There is a fee chargeable at the rate current at the time of application plus actual advertising costs. Advertising costs will vary depending on which local newspaper is used. 

Section 31A Highways Act 1980 requires the County Council to keep a public Register of Deposits/Declarations lodged under s31(6) of that Act.

These declarations and statements enable landowners to formally acknowledge public rights of way across their land.  In doing so, create a presumption that they have no intention to dedicate any further routes across their land.

The relevant parts of Form CA16 (PDF 38KB) should be completed and submitted with a suitable plan and the requisite fee of £50 per deposit (cheques to be made payable to Cumbria County Council)

Since 1 October 2013 Notices of such deposits/declarations lodged after that date will now be valid for 20 years.

A register of these declaration and statements is kept by the County Council (including those in the Lake District National Park) and can be viewed in paper format at the offices of the Countryside Access Team or electronically on the Section 31(6) of the Highways Act web page.

Representations or enquiries for anything detailed on this page can be sent in writing to the Countryside Access Team at:

The Parkhouse Building
Kingmoor Business Park
Carlisle
CA6 4SJ 

or email: countryside.access@cumbria.gov.uk

The County Council are under a duty to maintain public rights of way in Cumbria however, if an issue on a right of way would be resolved by improving the condition of the path through surfacing, drainage, changing stiles for gates or even through creating a new path, then this can be addressed through our rights of way improvements programme. 

It works by organisations, landowners, parishes working with the Countryside Team to attract additional assistance for any proposed scheme. Legal work, specification, match funding and contractors can all be organised by the Countryside Team for the delivery of the work, all it needs is a good idea and a little support.

To discuss a scheme or simply find out more contact: countryside.access@cumbria.gov.uk or call on 01228 226558.


The management of vehicles use in the countryside has been developed by the County Council over a number of years in co-operation with the Lake District National Park and with the user groups. The guide that has been produced identifies over 200 unsealed highways that can be used by motor vehicles in Cumbria and the Lake District. The guidance relies largely on voluntary restraint and will hopefully negate any future need for traffic regulation orders to exclude vehicles. The Yorkshire Dales have their own guidance available on their web site.

Each route is surveyed and inspected by volunteers from the Cumbria Trail Riders Fellowship and the Green Lanes Association to ensure the information is up to date and that the use of vehicles is not detrimental to the surface condition or to the local community. To help us achieve this each route has a graded survey sheet that makes recommendation regarding their use and a map where all routes are identified.

Grading:

  • Red: The route has a lot of use and may also have environmental issues or potential conflict with other users / landowners. Proceed with great care.
  • Amber: Route has moderate use and there may be a lot of other users, land management issues or may not be passable in all weather. Please keep to the track and proceed with care.
  • Green: Proceed with care while the route should be passable at all times.


Cumbria's landscape is fragile so always keep to the track and to minimise your impact on your surroundings it is recommended that your group sizes are kept small.

MOD Warcop's training area, situated in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty between Appleby and Brough, is one of the largest Army training areas in the UK.

The use of public rights of way in the Danger Area (these can clearly be identified on the Ordnance Survey map OL19, Howgill Fells and Upper Eden Valley) is limited to MOD non-firing access days only when live-firing is not taking place. If the red flag is flying, or red lanterns displayed, do not enter the area. A list of access (non-firing) days are available from the local paper, libraries, tourist information centres, youth hostels, by calling 0800 783 5181 and from the Gov.UK website. When using these rights of way on the non-firing days please be aware that although they are inspected regularly by the MOD you must ensure you do not pick up or touch any objects or military debris found as there is a residual risk from unexploded ordnance on any military training area and it is essential you follow the waymarked public rights of way.   

Public safety on the MOD training estate video

A Warcop training area - access opportunities leaflet (PDF 3MB) is available and can also be found in local Tourist Information Centres. 

Permits to climb specified routes up Mickle Fell are available from:

The Range Officer
Warcop Training Area
Warcop
Appleby
Cumbria
CA16 6PA

Guided Walks are occasionally organised, allowing access to otherwise unavailable areas such as Helbeck Woods and Little Fell, telephone: 017683 43227 for details.

The flagship walks within Cumbria are the National Trails: 


The Council also support a number of promoted walking routes in Cumbria, they are not managed to the same extent as the National Trails but we work in partnership with their designers to ensure a certain quality of experience. 

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act gives the public the right to walk freely over around 825 square miles (2,137 square kilometres) of the county.  On designated land you are free to walk, picnic, birdwatch, run and climb where you want.  But it does not mean you can drive vehicles, cycle, ride horses or camp unless it is already allowed in a designated area.

Walking on Access Land can be challenging, as you may often be a long way from recognised paths or even obvious landmarks.  Stiles and gates may also be few and far between. As a large percentage of the access land is open country, good navigation skills and suitable clothing are essential.

To protect ground-nesting birds dogs need to be kept on short leads between 1 March and 31 July on open access land and at all times around livestock.  Access to some areas may occasionally be restricted for land management, nature conservation or public safety reasons.

Uncontrolled wildfires in sensitive upland areas like the North Pennines cause long-lasting damage to wildlife, the landscape and have a significant impact on rural communities.

In the dry weather extra vigilance is called for.  Please be careful with your litter, especially cigarette ends and bits of broken glass.  If you notice a fire, please ring 999 and report it immediately.

In certain areas the open access rights are automatically closed if the fire risk level reaches 'exceptional'.  The Met Office assesses the fire severity on a scale of 1 to 5.  Level 5 means an automatic closure for most of the sensitive Pennine areas for the duration of the dry weather.    

We have notices for land managers to download below. The orange notice is to correspond with 'level 4' (high fire risk). We also have this laminated in the office, please contact us if you would like this posted to you instead.