OS 50k map symbols & rights of access

Question about access to G/SE-001 (Walbury Hill) which is my nearest SOTA summit. I will probably activate it in April once the restrictions are lifted.

What do the dotted lines from the track to the trig point mean?

©Crown copyright 2021 Ordnance Survey. Media 018/21

When I’ve been there before it looks like private land with no right of access but the dotted lines on the map suggest to me some kind of a path or access to the trig point. I can’t find anything definitive on the map key/legend.

I normally activate from the track by the gate on VHF but I wouldn’t mind giving it a go on HF (using a little extra space in the field if possible to get my antenna away from the path).

Please educate me…am I allowed in the field or not?

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I don’t know this hill … but I employed my usual technique of looking it up on Sotlas SOTLAS which will often show reports and give an idea about access.
Sometimes hills are covered by “access land” - this is shown on 1:25 000 maps and within some rules ( dogs on leads, no vehicles etc.) allows open access. Most moorland in the north of England is open access. I had a look on the 1:25 000 and this one isn’t! (Bing Maps have an Ordanance Survey Option so you will be able to see the 1:25 000 map. Open access land has a brownish line around the edge and is slightly colored)
The map symbol shows a track but does not show a public right of way and TBH I don’t think you could tell by looking just at the map. It might be open and easy to access causing no difficulties, or it might be surrounded by a 3m wire mesh fence and patrolled by guard dogs! Thats where the reports really help - and the ones that I looked at seemed to imply all would be well - but have a read yourself - they are usually full of tips. Hope this is useful…ish. At least it will be clearer than the lockdown rules.
73 Paul


Seems accessible!

73 Heinz

Thanks Paul.

I’ve read all of the activation reports & tips on the summit page, which doesn’t really make things any clearer.

A couple of the reports state that there is no right of access, Then again, there is a report with photos by one of the MT who appears to be right next to the trig point.

Getting access to the trig point is not physically a problem. There’s a gate about 4ft tall on the track which I can easily climb over & it’s about 100 yards across a flat field from the track.

It’s more a case of whether I’m allowed to climb over the gate & if I’m going to get an angry farmer yelling “GET OFF MY LAND!!!”

I was hoping that the dotted lines from the track to the trig point shown on the map would be a hint but apparently not!

Thanks Heinz. I spotted that but there are also one or two reports in there stating that there is no official right of access. Just because a couple of people have done it doesn’t mean that it’s allowed!

The activation zone extends down to 25m BELOW the highest point of the top. A public national trail / public byway runs WNW to SSE across the top 290m contour of Walbury Hill. The highest point is at 297m.

You can operate within that 25m drop zone but your activation will probably be disallowed under current Covid restrictions. You do not need to go through the fence or gate to the trig point to be inside the activation zone.


I activated it (a while back, see A Good Idea? (G/SE-001 Walbury Hill)) from beside the public byway; fine for SOTA, but no good for WAB Trig point chasers. When I visited there were enough farm animals in the field that activating the trig point would have been interesting both in terms of livestock curiosity and livestock “fallout”, even if it had been obviously accessible.

It means there is a non-metalled track, maybe hardcore or maybe just ruts from many vehicles. You may also find this page useful the OS produce about rights of way.

Additionally, we have a media licence from the OS that allows us (users of the site) to post snips of OS maps legally. But we have to mark each piece of data with the licence data. You need to edit your post and add “©Crown copyright 2021 Ordnance Survey. Media 018/21” under the map. As does anyone posting OS data on here. That’s not too well known hence this bit explaining about it.

It’s worth checking Google as a search for Walbury Hill shows thousands of comments and suggested walks etc. None of them mention angry landowners chasing people away. If there were access issues with landowners it’s pretty well guaranteed someone will have written about it. The absence of such means, but does guarantee, that access is tolerated.

I beg to differ.
Regardless of the surface it means that the track is unbounded by fence, wall or other restriction - but not necessarily that you can (NOT may) drive off it.
This implies that the track with ROW markings across the hill is actually marked (in black) incorrectly.
See the yellow road N of the hill - con tinuous line N side; broken S side.

I’ve activated it 4 times. Twice from the path and twice from inside the field, although close to the path since I just wanted space for an HF antenna. On one of those occasions the farmer gave me a friendly wave from his tractor so I assume he didn’t mind.

Also, note that the parking area to the west is a real gravel car park rather than just mud and that the western half of the path is much better maintained than the eastern part, presumably because the farmer uses it.


James, here is the approximate AZ.

It looks to me like there is viable area of access land within it.

I’ve only done it once, at the field access gate, on 2m.

©Crown copyright 2021 Ordnance Survey. Media 018/21

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Yes, it does. But the OS legend no longer explains unfenced or unmetalled which surprised me. It’s not in the downloadable legend PDF.

I had a look back at some real paper maps to see how the legend has changed.

1:50k Edinburgh sheet 66 Edition C 1999 explains it as “other road, drive or track”.
1:50k Kelso sheet 74 First series 1976 “minor road in towns, drive or track (unmetalled)”.
One Inch Edinburgh sheet 62 (1963 major roads 1970) “minor road in towns, drive or track (unmetalled). Unfenced roads are show by short pecks”

I had to go back to a 51yr old map to find it explained. I’m sure if must be explained somewhere on the 1:50k maps still. But we’re both correct.

I must resist the urge to go and but more old paper maps from eBay now.

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I’m sure there’s a wealth of experience to be shared on this and it probably deserves a topic of its own.

In my experience I’ve never had a landowner or tenant farmer be rude to me once he knew what I was doing. For the few times a farmer has bothered to come up and talk to me we had a long chat on local history, etc. I think most are bothered about people lighting fires and leaving messes for the farmer to clear up.

I would definitely go to the trig point / summit to activate. Most reasonable landowners, once you explain you’re there only for an hour or so and will leave nothing behind, will be content to let you stay.

As for asking prior permission, it can be devilishly difficult to determine who the landowner is. So [unless you know it’s government / military land] go ahead and activate. If approached, be polite - the worse than can happen is you will be told to leave.

Okay, okay, I’ll create a new topic.,

  1. All tracks, which appear as tracks or roads to a map maker across the countryside are marked with either a row of either black dots which represent no roadside barrier, fence, wall or hedge, or a solid black line which can represent either a fence, wall, or hedge. Several other posters have mentioned this.

2.The presence of a track, or road doesn’t indicate it is a public ROW (unless it is coloured yellow, brown red or blue…The exception are minor roads in towns, & villages.

  1. Coloured dots/dashes indicate a footpath or bridleway respectively & , the colour depends on the scale of map. The one crossing the hill with the red triangles, indicates a national trail. So you have a right to walk it, and make reasonable use of the path for pausing, rests and so on. (I’m not sure whether activating a radio would be classed as reasonably commensurate with using a footpath/bridleway.) . On that hill, the public can only access on foot, and not use the road for cycling and/or motor use.

As there’s no coloured markings along the track from the Wayfair’s walk to the trig point, there’s no Public Right of Way.

  1. There is one slight anomaly, regarding ROW and unsurfaced roads, an example of which is shown at spot hight 188 and another a few hundred meters further up that road. These Green or Red circles indicate a BOAT (Byway Open to All Traffic & and a term used by OS), sometimes referred to a ‘green lanes’. Like footpaths and bridleways there may be BOATS marked on the maps indicating a legal route across countryside where there is absolutely no visible route on the ground. These routes, known as Unsurfaced, Unclassified Roads (UUR) by the highway authorities are the responsibility of the Highways Department and not the local councils or the national parks. Some no longer exist on the ground and may be totally impossible to use because there’s no bridges, they’ve been forested over, lost or generations of farmers have used them for discarded old junk & machinery. There’s no legal requirement for them to be marked and it is rare for them to be maintained. they come right at the bottom of the Highways department budget spending. Which in North Yorkshire is £ nil…

These may not be indicated on earlier OS Maps prior to the 1980s, Therefore there might be ROWs which are totally unmarked on your older maps!!.


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I would guess that he is generally supportive of amateur radio because I have on several occasions noticed some extremely large trailer mounted masts with big antennas in the field during contest weekends (actually there were 3 trailer masts the last time). There were also several tents, a motor home, a caravan, several Land Rovers, a huge generator & about 5 other vehicles.

Given the logistics involved with this, I presume that they didn’t just pitch up & start operating!!! I assume that the local radio club/society must have some sort of arrangement with the land owner, so he’s probably very amenable towards amateur radio.

Agree with that for SOTA activations but was hoping to combine it with a WAB trig points activation (WAB rules say that you must be within 30m of the trig point).

As others have said, I can operate VHF from the gate. I’m a reluctant to set up wire HF antennas on the path though.

I was thinking that it would be fun to fly a kite antenna for either 40m or 80m from there because there is plenty of space around the trig point (as long as the farmer doesn’t have the cows or sheep in the field) but I think that would be really taking the mickey unless I could get permission from the landowner first.

As others have said, it is incredibly difficult to find out who the landowner is. I wouldn’t know how to work out who to approach.

I realise that. I’m thinking middle of April for this one (with a view to the easing of the restrictions on 12th April).

I think it depends on the time of year. On previous visits the field has been absolutely packed with livestock. Although the last couple of times that I’ve been up there the field has been empty.

I sometimes go up there if I just want to run VHF (non-SOTA) from the car for a couple of hours. I use the car park (or should that be mud bath) to the East. The car park to the West (which is gravelled) is better but it gets extremely busy. It also has power cables running across it!

I find that the eastern car park has a better take-off on VHF & is generally quieter & less packed. I also have 4 wheel drive, so I don’t care too much about a little bit of slightly soft ground!

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