Commons & Access

Amddiffyn rhinweddau arbennig tirwedd agored


The Cambrian Mountains landscape is the result of millennia of human activity, including farming.  Large expanses of land remain open to roam and some are common land, on which a number of farms have the right to graze a stipulated number of animals.  Such areas have in the past remained unfenced, the livestock either being ‘hefted’ (knowing the area within which its own flock or herd traditionally roams) or being rounded up when necessary from all corners.  Responsible access to such areas (for instance, keeping dogs on leads) has always co-existed with farm interests, and the openness and resulting visual clarity and simplicity of the landscape is one of the special qualities of the uplands.

Rights of access

In 2005 the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (CRoW) came into force, clearly identifying open access land in Wales. One fifth of Wales is mapped as ‘access land’ where the public have a right of access on foot.

Open access land under CRoW consists of open country (mountain, moor, heath and downland) and ‘registered common land’, that is, land that is recorded on the official registers held by the commons registration authorities. It also includes areas of ‘dedicated land’ where owners, such as Natural Resources Wales, allow free access. You can see open access land on Ordnance Survey (OS) Explorer (1:25,000) maps. Open access areas have yellow shading with an orangey-brown border. Forestry land that has been dedicated for public access shows as pale green, with the same orangey-brown border. The OS Explorer maps also highlight key information points for CRoW access land. Important information is displayed at these places, including any local restrictions that might be in place. You should note that the OS Explorer maps may not show permissive access land or any area of CRoW access land which is smaller than 5 hectares.

In some places, however, farmers have the legal right to exclude walkers either at all times or at sensitive times of year, such as lambing.

For more detailed information and guidance, see: Open Spaces Society – Paths and Open Spaces in Wales

Our campaigns

The Cambrian Mountains Society campaigns to ensure that the modern trend towards enclosure of land with fences does not diminish the special qualities of the landscape by visually carving up the landscape into private managed components.  Such division, although convenient for some activities, necessarily brings a sense of enclosure and restriction into increasingly rare examples of space which throughout history has been open to all comers to pass without challenge.   Most recently, the Society objected to the construction of a long fence across Rhos Gelli Gron Common; permission to build the fence was refused.  Nevertheless, it now appears that despite this fences have been constructed elsewhere on the Common and the Society, together with other interest groups, is considering its response to these.

For further information and resources about commons, see: Open Spaces Society- Commons