Outdoor access rights and responsibilities

How to enjoy the countryside responsibly

Argyll & Bute is a great place to get out and enjoy the outdoors, to walk, cycle, ride and swim, paddle or sail on lochs or along the coast.  The countryside is also a home and workplace to people and wildlife and it is important that we understand our responsibilities and behave in a way which does not cause damage or annoyance to others.

Your Rights

The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 gives the public rights of responsible non-motorised access to certain categories of land and water for recreation and passage.   You have the right to walk, cycle, ride a horse, paddle a canoe, sail or swim; however with these rights come responsibilities.  You can exercise your rights providing that you do so in a way that does not disturb local residents, inconvenience land managers, damage land, crops or livestock or spoil the enjoyment of others.

Exercising Your Rights Responsibly

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code (SOAC) website is the place to find out more about everyone's access rights and responsibilities in Scotland’s outdoors.  Access rights in Scotland apply to most land and inland water as well as the foreshore.  There are places where you do not have a right of access such as land close to a house to respect the privacy of anyone living there, airfields, railway lines and farm yards where you might be injured.  There may also be temporary restrictions where land management operations are being carried out.

If you’re a member of the public wanting to enjoy some fresh air in a local park, or a hill walker, horse rider, mountain biker or sea kayaker exploring further afield, there is information for you. 

If you plan to Wild Camp pay particular attention to the guidance -  it is easy to cause problems for other people which you can avoid very easily. 

Dog walkers also need to take responsibility for their pets and ensure that they do not worry livestock, pass disease or cause cattle to trample their owners.

Scotland’s outdoors is managed by a variety of people and organisations, many of them earn their living from the land. We all have responsibilities to respect each other’s activities and interests in the outdoors.  The SOAC site has advice for land managers about their rights and responsibilities.  The Access Manager can also provide advice and assistance to Land Managers.

From the outdooraccess-scotland.com website you can find out about;

  • Your rights, whether as an access user or land manager
  • Where you can exercise your rights
  • Where you do not have access rights
  • What rights and responsibilities land managers and others have

Much of this information is specific to different activities, from air sports to water sports.  If you are planning any of the following we strongly recommend that you use these quick links to learn more.  It will not take long and you will enjoy your visit more;

Contact the Access Manager

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