Common land is land, usually in private ownership, over which certain people have certain rights and on which certain restrictions have been placed. The main features of common land are that it is generally open, unfenced and unimproved grassland and located mainly in the upland areas of England and Wales.
Rights of common can include:
- Grazing sheep or cattle (herbage)
- Taking peat or turf (turbary)
- Taking wood, gorse or furze (estovers)
- Taking of fish (piscary)
- Eating of acorns or beechmast by pigs (pannage)
The people who are able to exercise the rights listed above are generally known as 'commoners'.
There are nearly 200 commons in Herefordshire. Some are privately owned, some have no known owner and some the council own. They vary in size from a few square yards to hundreds of acres.
The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 permits public access to open countryside including access to common land. Access is on foot only. You can walk dogs on common land, but they must be kept under control at all times, and at certain times of the year must be kept on a lead so as not to disturb nesting birds.
Conclusive maps for all areas showing the land (including commons) to which the public have access, including the open access rights which are now in operation in all regions subject to any short or long term restrictions that may apply, are available on the Natural England website.