Dartmoor Commons Act 1985

Belted Galloway cows grazing on the common

Common land covers about 37% of Dartmoor National Park, made up almost entirely of rough grazing with a small area of woodland. The commons form the heartland of Dartmoor and the vast open space which is a significant factor in its National Park designation.

Like common land everywhere, the Dartmoor commons are all owned by someone but subject to rights of registered commoners, primarily for grazing. In 1985, the Dartmoor Commons Act came into force, dealing with the regulation of grazing rights and the control of public access, establishing a legal right of access on foot and on horseback to the commons for the purpose of open-air recreation.

The Dartmoor Commoners' Council was set up under the Act to represent the commoners, make regulations about most matters affecting the management of the commons and the welfare of stock on the commons, and to enforce the Dartmoor Commoners' Council Regulations.