Walkers will be able to enjoy more open countryside when the new right of access to open country begins in northern England on 28 May 2005, it was announced today.
The upper North West and North East of England will be the next regions to have access land opened under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.
The two regions incorporate four national parks and are the fourth and fifth areas to be opened in a staged program to introduce the new right of access in England by the end of 2005.
The new right applies to open country, mountain, moor, heath, down and registered common land and is being introduced on a region-by-region basis to give visitors new walking opportunities as early as possible.
Designated countryside, known as 'access land' in the lower North West and South East regions was officially opened to walkers on 19 September and the new right started in central Southern England on 14 December.
Rural affairs minister Alun Michael said: "Northern England has some of the most breathtaking scenery in the country so I am delighted that the new right of access will come into effect as early as May.
"The weather will be warmer by then so I hope people will take full advantage of this opportunity and explore as much of the glorious countryside in these areas as they can."
For further information on the new access rights and maps of access land already open, visit the website.