Off-road access in England

Imagine being able to pedal straight from home out to the forests, hills and dales, or just to link to a nearby town, on a coherent network of trails and tracks. Cycling UK is working to make that easier.

There are lots of fantastic places for off-road riding in England, but it is not always as easy as it could be to go out and explore. 

Only 22% of rights of way are open to cyclists, and the network can often be frustratingly disjointed – with bridleways suddenly turning into footpaths at a parish boundary, despite looking the same on the ground.

While Scotland and Wales have been much more progressive in their approach to off-road access, England is lagging. Scotland’s Land Reform Act 2003 allows responsible access to most land provided people follow the Outdoor Access Code, and the Welsh Government committed to make many rights of way multi-use following campaigning by Cycling UK, OpenMTB and others. 

However, in England not much has changed since Cycling UK (then CTC) won cyclists the right to ride on bridleways in 1968. Of course some footpaths aren’t suitable for shared use, but with over 92,000 miles of them, there are many that are and could link up the often disjointed bridleway network.

What we'd like to see

Just imagine what cycling in the countryside would be like if cyclists...

  • could ride on some of the 80% of the network we can't use now in England and Wales
  • were able to access more of the National Trails
  • could enjoy recreational rides which linked cycle-friendly quiet roads to rights of way
  • were welcomed to National Parks which appreciated the benefits of promoting cycling 

Where are your missing links for off-road cycling?

Cycling UK has created a mapping tool to enable you to suggest additions to the off-road cycling network in your area, to fill in the missing links.

It might be a track that isn’t open for cycling because it’s classed as a footpath, or a disused railway line that would form a great link between two towns. Perhaps it’s a boggy route that if resurfaced, could be useable all year round.