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Headline photo
Rockcliffe and Kippford from South Glen Brae: Ed Iglehart [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Introductory text

Kippford and Rockcliffe are on the East Stewartry Coast, an unspoilt National Scenic Area with two other NSAs in close proximity. It is in Dumfries & Galloway, South West Scotland, a region known for it's wonderful scenery, biodiversity, turbulent history, smugglers and black and white 'belted' cattle known as Galloway Belties. This stretch of coastline has many names. Known locally as the Colvend Coast or the 'Secret Coast' (due to the peace and tranquility) it is often referred to as the 'Scottish Riviera' due to it being the holiday resort of choice for Victorian millionaires and having a Gulf Stream influenced microclimate: evidenced by palm trees in some gardens. Castle Douglas, the food town is a short drive away and Kirkcudbright, the Artists Town is over the next headland.

This a scenic and unique part of the world and we started the blog to share the experience of living in this wonderful place. We hope that it will be of interest to others who live here and give those planning to visit the area a taste of all it has to offer.

The blog has a correspondent in both Kippford and Rockcliffe village, you can also follow their Twitter feeds on the right of the page. If you would like to get involved we look forward to hearing from you.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Enjoy Dumfries & Galloway with some of the best access rights in the world

As outdoor enthusiasts we are very lucky, here in Dumfries & Galloway, to enjoy some of the best access rights in the world. 

Which is fantastic for the many people who come here to enjoy the amazing biodiversity and recreational facilities Dumfries & Galloway has to offer. The Land Reform (Scotland) Act 2003 gives the public the right to be on most land and inland water for recreation, education and going from place to place, providing they act responsibly. 

The "Scottish Outdoor Access Code" (as it's known) provides guidance on access rights and responsibilities but  it is not in it'self an authoritative statement of the law, although it has been approved by Ministers and the Scottish Parliament. As I understand it, the code is more of guidelines that, if followed, help you observe the law and are an example of good practice when out-and-about in the countryside.

Many of our guests are keen walkers, birders, cyclists or dog owners and most come from outwith Scotland. As Scottish access rights are different to other countries they are often  hesitant when going out and about, as I was when I first came here. I grew up in Yorkshire where the only option to explore the countyside was to use a permissive footpath so although I love the freedom,  I am still sometimes uncomfortable 'roaming free'. With this in mind I looked up the  Scottish Outdoor Access Code when I moved here and always check my rights over my chosen route before I go.

Guests often ask about the Scottish right to roam when exploring our beautiful countryside so I thought it would be a good idea to do a post about the "Scottish Outdoor Access Code" as a handy reference. This is just intended as a quick overview, there are links to official publications at the bottom.

The Land Reform  (Scotland) Act 2003 gives you the right to enjoy:

• Informal pastimes such as walking, camping, picnicking and sightseeing
• Active pursuits including cycling, mountaineering, canoeing and horse riding
• Dog walking, provided your dog is under proper control
• Taking part in recreational and educational trips
• Simply going from one place to another

NOTE: Motorised activities (unless for disabled access) and hunting, shooting and fishing are NOT included.

... over most of Scotland including:
• Urban parks
• Hills and woods
• Most grass fields and field margins
• Beaches
• Lochs, rivers and canals

However, in the interests of safety and to encourage goodwill between the public and to land owners and managers, it is equally important to note the places where you CAN NOT exercise this right. 

The main places where access rights do not apply are:

• houses and gardens, and non-residential buildings and associated land
• land in which crops are growing
• land next to a school and used by the school
• sports or playing fields when these are in use and where the exercise of access rights would interfere with such use
• land developed and in use for recreation and where the exercise of access rights would interfere with such use 
• golf courses (but you can cross a golf course provided you don’t interfere with any games of golf)
• places like airfields, railways, telecommunication sites, military bases and installations, working quarries and construction sites
• visitor attractions or other places which charge for entry

The Code: is based on three key principles which apply equally to both parties, the public and land owners or managers. These are simply, in my opinion, basic common sense and are second nature to most countryside lovers/users and wildlife enthusiasts so are not onerous to abide by.

1. Respect the interests of other people. 
Which means acting with courtesy, consideration and awareness. If you are exercising access rights, make sure that you respect the privacy, safety and livelihoods of those living or working in the outdoors, and the needs of other people enjoying the outdoors. If you are a land manager, respect people’s use of the outdoors and their need for a safe and enjoyable visit. 

2. Care for the environment. 
If you are exercising access rights, look after the places you visit and enjoy, and leave the land as you find it. If you are a land manager, help maintain the natural and cultural features which make the outdoors attractive to visit and enjoy.

3. Take responsibility for your own actions. 
If you are exercising access rights, remember that the outdoors cannot be made risk-free and act with care at all times for your own safety and that of others. If you are a land manager, act with care at all times for people’s safety.

There are also places where, although not specifically excluded,  you are expected to exercise basic common sense; these include bird nesting sites such as wetlands and shingle beaches which should be given a wide berth during the breeding season in late Spring. An example of this locally is Rough Island (an island bird sanctuary just off Rockcliffe/Roughfirth with nesting oystercatchers and ringed plovers. There are signs asking people not to visit during the breeding season in May and June.

I hope that this post is useful as knowing the code gives me the confidence to explore freely. 

You can get more extensive guidance and download several documents here:

These include:

I hope this helps you to enjoy the wonderful diversity Dumfries & Galloway has to offer to the full, particularly in this Year of Natural Scotland

Source: Scottish Natural Heritage - http://www.outdooraccess-scotland.com/

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