Outdoor Access Scotland

outdoor access code mountain biking

Everyone has the right to be on most land and water in Scotland. And there is no better place to put your rights in to practice than in the beautiful Grampian region of north east Scotland. Forests, tracks, and wilderness just waiting to be cycled. All you need is a map, a sense of adventure and an understanding of what your access rights and responsibilities are. They are fully explained in the Scottish Outdoor Access Code, however the key things to remember are:
- take personal responsibility for your own actions and act safely
- respect people's privacy and peace of mind
- help land managers and others to work safely and effectively
- care for your environment, take your litter home and don't disturb wildlife
- take extra care if you're organising an event or running a business

outdoor access code mountain biking

For more details on situations likely to affect cyclists see the sections below:

 

Access Rights for Cyclists

access rights cycling

Access rights extend to cycling. Cycling on hard surfaces, such as wide paths and tracks, the typical gravel cyclist's choice, causes few problems. On narrow routes, cycling may cause problems for other people, such as walkers and horse riders. If this occurs, dismount and walk until the path becomes suitable again. Do not endanger walkers and horse riders: give other users advance warning of your presence and give way to them on a narrow path. Take care not to alarm farm animals, horses and wildlife.

If you are cycling off-path, particularly in winter, avoid going onto wet, boggy or soft ground; and churning up the surface.

 

Access Rights and Deer Stalking

Deer stalking in forests and woods

Deer control can take place within forests all year round, often around dawn and dusk. You can help to minimise disturbance by taking extra care at these times, and by following any signs and notices, if deer stalking is taking place.

Deer stalking on the open hill

Deer management can take place during many months of the year but the most sensitive time is the stag stalking season (usually from 1 July to 20 October, but with most stalking taking place from August onwards). During this season, you can help to minimise disturbance by taking reasonable steps to find out where stalking is taking place (such as by using the Hillphones service where one is available) and by taking account of advice on alternative routes. Avoid crossing land where stalking is taking place. Stalking does not normally take place on Sundays.

access rights deer stalking

access rights deer stalking

Deer stalking in forests and woods

Deer control can take place within forests all year round, often around dawn and dusk. You can help to minimise disturbance by taking extra care at these times, and by following any signs and notices, if deer stalking is taking place.

Deer stalking on the open hill

Deer management can take place during many months of the year but the most sensitive time is the stag stalking season (usually from 1 July to 20 October, but with most stalking taking place from August onwards). During this season, you can help to minimise disturbance by taking reasonable steps to find out where stalking is taking place (such as by using the Hillphones service where one is available) and by taking account of advice on alternative routes. Avoid crossing land where stalking is taking place. Stalking does not normally take place on Sundays.

 

Farmyards and Cyclists

access rights farmyards

Although access rights do not extend to farmyards, many people take access through farmyards when following paths and tracks. In practice if a right of way or core path goes through a farmyard, you can follow this at any time, and, if a reasonable, passable alternative route is signposted around the farmyard and buildings, then you should follow this.

In the absence of a right of way, core path or reasonable, signposted route around the farmyard and buildings, you might be able to go through the farmyard if the farmer is content or if access has been taken on a customary basis in the past; or you could exercise your access rights to go around the farmyard and buildings. If you do go through a farmyard, proceed safely and carefully, watch out for machinery or livestock, and respect the privacy of those living on the farm.

 

 

Cycling Through Fields

 

Fields of grass, hay, and silage

access rights through fields

Fields of grass, hay, and silage

When grass has just been sown, treat it like any other crop and follow the appropriate guidance (see below). When on land in which grass is being grown for hay or silage you can exercise access rights unless it is at such a late stage of growth that it might be damaged. Such grass will be grown in enclosed fields and have no animals grazing on it. A "late stage of growth" is considered to be when the grass is above ankle height (about 8 inches or 20cm). In such cases, use paths or tracks where they exist or go along the margins of the field. Grass can also be grown for turf, usually on relatively flat ground and in large fields. In these cases, use paths or tracks where they exist or go along the margins of the field, when the turf is at an early stage of establishment.

 

Fields of growing crops

access rights through crop fields

Fields of growing crops

When exercising access rights in a field of crops, avoid damaging the crop by:
- using any paths or tracks;
- using the margins of the field (if the margin is narrow or has been planted, avoid causing unnecessary damage by keeping close to the edge in single file);
- going along any unsown ground (providing this does not damage the crop); or by
- considering alternative routes on neighbouring ground.

 

Paths and Tracks

access rights on paths

Access rights extend to all paths and tracks except where they go over land on which access rights do not apply. Rights of way are unaffected by the legislation. Access rights apply off-path, but when you are close to houses or in fields of crops or in places where the environment is particularly vulnerable to damage, it may be sensible to follow paths and tracks where they exist. This can help to facilitate access and help safeguard the interests of land managers and the environment. Cyclists can exercise access rights on paths and tracks. However, on some paths, such as those which are heavily-used or which are prone to damage, the local authority may have provided local advice on what types of use are appropriate or how different users should behave to reduce risks to safety or to minimise damage to the path surface. Following such advice can help to minimise problems.

Access rights extend to all paths and tracks except where they go over land on which access rights do not apply. Rights of way are unaffected by the legislation. Access rights apply off-path, but when you are close to houses or in fields of crops or in places where the environment is particularly vulnerable to damage, it may be sensible to follow paths and tracks where they exist. This can help to facilitate access and help safeguard the interests of land managers and the environment. Cyclists can exercise access rights on paths and tracks. However, on some paths, such as those which are heavily-used or which are prone to damage, the local authority may have provided local advice on what types of use are appropriate or how different users should behave to reduce risks to safety or to minimise damage to the path surface. Following such advice can help to minimise problems.

access rights on paths

 

Wild Camping

Wildcampimg access rights

Access rights extend to wild camping. This type of camping is lightweight, done in small numbers and only for two or three nights in any one place. You can camp in this way wherever access rights apply but help to avoid causing problems for local people and land managers by not camping in enclosed fields of crops or farm animals and by keeping well away from buildings, roads or historic structures. Take extra care to avoid disturbing deer stalking or grouse shooting. If you wish to camp close to a house or building, seek the owner's permission. Leave no trace by taking away all your litter, removing all traces of your tent pitch and of any open fire (follow the guidance for lighting fires), and not causing any pollution.