Land access - seeking and finding permission

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Jan 21, 2005
S. Lanarkshire
That's a 'footpath' of known provenance and history though. Like drove roads and holloways, these aren't 'trails'. Footpaths have known markers, obvious routes and passing areas, many are fenced, walled or hedged along side too.
Even the deliberate obliteration of such rights of way really can't remove all past evidences.



Feb 10, 2016
Grand Cayman, Norway, Sweden
mmmmmmmmmmmmQUOTE=Toddy;1821159]That's a 'footpath' of known provenance and history though. Like drove roads and holloways, these aren't 'trails'. Footpaths have known markers, obvious routes and passing areas, many are fenced, walled or hedged along side too.
Even the deliberate obliteration of such rights of way really can't remove all past evidences.

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Full Member
Sep 28, 2016
Some really good information on this thread. Where I live most of the land is actually owned by the local authority. As it happens they have a volunteer rangers scheme and some areas have "friends of" organisations. I'm going to join both working on the principle that building up good will while contributing should give me some options. Even if it doesn't lead to me building myself a bushcraft camp I'm still making a positive contribution to the local environment. The main thing is I'll build up the right contacts.
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Jun 6, 2020
East Manchester
That's a great post for a newbie like me looking to get in to bushcraft after many years of thinking about it but doing nothing.
What would be the consequences if you camped out on land without the owners' permission?
In East Manchester where I live there are a many locations where it would be possible to camp. Namely, the Snake and Woodhead Passes between Glossop and Sheffield.
How would I go about finding:
a) Find out if this is public land, and
b) Get permissions if it's private.
c) If it is public land are you free to roam and set up a tent wherever you like?

Thanks in advance



Full Member
Jan 18, 2009
Mid Wales
Many of us have been 'rough camping' for years on the moors and mountains in the UK. In general, it has been accepted that anywhere 'above the tree line' you could overnight as you were passing through and, usually, that is still the case. Camping in lowland, especially woodland, is another matter and you should if at all possible seek permission. However, if you've backpacked 15 miles with 25Kg on your back that may be difficult and, as long as you are discreet, you will usually get away with it. But, no open fires, don't camp within sight or sound of residence, and no large groups (I have always limited any trek to four max anyway).

You can find who owns the land by going to the Government land registry site - you click on the map and, as long as it has been registered, it will tell you who owns it. Unfortunately, it doesn't tell you who manages it which is more important. A lot of land will be shown as 'Crown Property' or similar, which doesn't help at all.

The worst you can be accused of in law is trespass (at the moment, there may be a future change in law about overnighting that may unintentionally include this type of camping). All that a landowner can ask you to do (as long as you are polite and cooperative) is leave by the nearest route to public path/road.

If the land is public you still do not have a right to camp - but, many people do get away with it.

I am not advocating you rough camp without permission, but if you do, keep your gear small, light and inconspicuous and do not cause any damage or remove any material (plant, wood, fruit ….) although, unless it has been planted as a crop, it is still not a crime. It goes without saying (and is covered earlier in this thread) you should leave no trace. As someone that owns woodland I would not take kindly to anyone that decided to burn wood that was set aside as a wildlife refuge, or cut a walking stick that I was waiting for the right time to cut, or leave any evidence of their passing, just as a couple of examples.

On top of all that, make sure you have read and understand the laws of trespass and limitations of what you can do before it becomes criminal (for example, taking an air rifle onto someone else's land without permission is 'armed trespass' and a very serious crime).

As a teenager in the seventies I camped everywhere and anywhere and was never challenged; sadly, those days are gone. We live on a crowded overpopulated island. But, there are still places you can go - get out, walk them and watch them first, make sure they are quiet at night, ask permission if you can, and have a go :)
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Spirit fish

Aug 12, 2021
This is understandably a subject that comes up on a regular basis so Ged kindly put together an article that should answer a lot of questions for people and provide a reference to start getting hold of land to use.

Seeking and gaining land access permission.

After some recent threads and questions about this topic, Tony asked if I could put together some tips for people seeking private land use permission and access for practising their Bushcraft Survival skills. I will admit that this has taken some thinking about as even though it’s something I’ve done many times, in the UK and other countries for both private and commercial projects, it isn’t easy. It takes time and patience to achieve it, but most of all a sense of respect for other people’s property and good manners to keep it.

I’ll break it down into three areas, Research, Approach and Management.

Firstly Research. Some basic outdoor skills are required here, mainly the ability to read a map and interpret its information. I’m not going to digress into a map reading tutorial in this article, as said, this is an essential skill you really should get in the tool box first, but, some pointers here will be.

  • Learn about the features, both man-made and natural boundaries, the nearest buildings, footpaths, it is here you will find the clues of whom the landowner is and where to ask.
  • Check for the essentials, what kind of woodland is it, Evergreen or Deciduous, is there water near by, is it secluded enough or is there public rights of way going through it, the map will show all this, you just have to look.
  • Then ask yourself is it a managed woodland, do you really want to be constantly disturbed by chainsaws and machinery going all the time, - tip, if there is a network of vehicle track lanes going around the area on the map, chances are it’s managed for produce or a 4x4 training area.

Do a Goggle search about the locations you have found on the map that maybe suitable, this is good for finding out names of landowners and the addresses, you could try the Land Register, I never personally needed to.

Now the Approach, make sure you know what you want, don’t waste a land owners time and make sure you can back up any questions they will ask, there will be lots – your not going to get it on a plate.

  • Think about your personal appearance, I would avoid camouflage clothing and carrying allsorts of tools on your belt at this point, some old jeans, jacket and Wellington boots (if they invite you in, easy to take off at the door).
  • Do it alone and leave the pet dogs at home.
  • Have pre-prepared contact info ready to handover, I don’t mean business cards or such but some hand written details to give the landowner with your name and telephone numbers, even an address.
  • Make time, I once spent all day with a Welsh Hill Farmer I met for the first time whilst seeking permission to run training on his land, I had a flask and sandwiches in my day sack and he consumed most of it, This was nearly twenty years ago and we’ve been firm friends since, seeing his family grow up and the farm change through the times has been a real pleasure.
  • Be honest, if you intend to use the land for commercial reasons, say so at the on set, if you don’t and then do it sneakily, it’s a breach of trust and trust is the foundation to any relationship.
  • What are you prepared to give in return, this maybe in time or money, heck, I’ve rounded up and sheared sheep, cut trees, chopped firewood and much more, it’s their land and if you want to use it, they have a right to ask for payment.

And finally the Management, of both the land and the relationship with the landowner, this is probably the hardest but most rewarding part.

  • Be responsible for your actions, do you really need to chop down trees for firewood when there is a mass of dead stuff about, you might even need to bring fire logs into the site so as not to cause too much disturbance and remember, if you do burn all the deadfall, what will you use to build shelters with, if shelter building was something you wanted to do that is.
  • Leave the alcohol fuelled binge parties for another time and place, apart from the obvious safety issues of people being completely wrecked in the woods, if the land owner decides to drop in and see you, and they will, your not exactly going to create a good image in this manner. A hip flask with a hearty supper and good company around the fire at night I find is fine and assists with a goodnights sleep, I’ve had landowners join me in this and it’s been very welcomed.
  • Leave the place as you find it – simple, I have woods that I have exclusive permissions on and throughout the year I will leave the campfire ‘chute and base set up but every now and then it will get removed and re-located giving the ground chance to recover, which takes no time at all.
  • Make time to talk to the landowner, not just when you want something off them, offer to help out, you’ll love it and I find a little something at Christmas time is always appreciated, I would advise a good bottle of Scotch.

Finally, to complete this article I recently took a walk upon a local estate I have access to and asked the ‘old man’ what his thoughts where about my original approach all those years ago when I first asked for access to his land, and this was before Ray Mears became the household name he is today, so I couldn’t use that angle and he simply said “I liked you, you where polite”.

Thanks for reading

If your into hunting as well golf courses are good places to ask for rabbits ect

Spirit fish

Aug 12, 2021
Hi Guys.. I know one of the guys at Militarymart in ormskirk said they might have acquired some land that could be bushcraft enthusiasts to do a bit of camping... Might be worth getting in touch with them if your around that area...

I use go camping with scouts at tawd vale woods which isn't to far from ormskirk ,maybe this is the place be cool if it was its a nice woodland with river tawd a quarry and a air rifle club, archery ect ect

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