British climbers are blessed with a choice of hundreds of crags, varying from bolted, single-pitch sport venues to multipitch trad routes in remote mountain areas.
As some of these become more and more popular, climbers also have more of a responsibility to understand the relevant access and conservation issues so we can continue to enjoy these areas sustainably.
Every crag is different and access agreements can change without notice. It is your responsibility to check restrictions on the area you wish to visit, and the best place to do so is on the BMC’s regional access database.
Crags on Access Land
In the past climbers have often been forced to trespass to gain access to crags. But since its formation in 1944 the BMC has worked with landowners and countryside organisations to ensure climbers have access to crags without compromising land management or other users.
The Countryside and Rights of Way Act (2000) was a major victory for the BMC and its members, protecting access to about 865,000 hectares of mountain, moor, heath and down (known as ‘Access Land’) on which the public can walk and climb without having to stay on paths.
Today many of our most popular crags lie within such areas. However temporary bans can still be imposed, including for conservation and public safety – the most common causes for restrictions include the presence of nesting birds, rare flora or fauna, or a high fire risk.
Crags not on Access Land
There are also many outstanding climbing areas – especially along coastal areas and in former quarries – to which climbers do not have a legal right of access even though climbing may have taken place there in the past.
Landowners can and sometimes do restrict access to these crags. In addition to the reasons listed above, the most common causes for this include inconsiderate parking, noise, damage to the landscape or livestock, and dogs.
In such situations the BMC works hard on behalf of climbers to come to an agreement with the landowner, and in some cases we have even bought the site.
But we ask climbers to help prevent such problems arising in the first place by being considerate, respecting signs, keeping dogs under control, checking preferred parking and paths on the regional access database, and knowing and obeying the Countryside Code.
By becoming a member of the BMC you are automatically supporting our Access & Conservation work. Other great ways to get involved include becoming an access volunteer, or joining your local crag clean-up.
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