Cyclists at Taynish National Nature Reserve, ©Lorne Gill/SNH

What is the Scottish Outdoor Access Code?

In Scotland, you can go on to most land to enjoy the outdoors – as long as you behave responsibly. This is known as Scottish access rights and is different to the position in England and Wales. When you are enjoying the outdoors, you must follow the Scottish Outdoor Access Code.

Scottish access rights apply, for example, to hills and moors, forests and woods, beaches and the coast, rivers and lochs, parks and some types of farmland. There are also some common-sense exceptions, including houses and gardens, other buildings and their yards or compounds, school grounds and places which charge for entry. Access rights include things like walking, cycling, climbing, horse-riding, kayaking, swimming and watching wildlife, but do not include things like shooting, fishing or access with motor vehicles. For more information about where you can go and what you can do, see Part 2 of the Code.

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code is based on three key principles

 • Respect the interests of others.

• Care for the environment.

• Take responsibility for your own actions.

 The Code provides more detailed guidance on a range of different activities. Land managers must manage their land and water in a way that respects access rights, and the Code also provides guidance to help them do this. 

Find out more

Key points when visiting the outdoors
Key points when managing land
Enjoy Scotland's Outdoors - leaflet and poster
Know the Code before you go leaflet (other languages)