I am no expert but there is a "right to roam" in the UK which means that you can wander over any common land, moor land, mountain, heath or forestry commission land. However Agricultural land is a bit different and the best thing to do is to check an up to date OS map to see what rules apply. Otherwise, stick to footpaths and public right of ways.
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Best just to stick to marked footpaths across the fields and downs. There are plenty around. Just get an OS map... spend a day exploring to find 2 or 3 nice runs.
Most farm and land owners in my area clearly mark what is classed as "private" where you cannot trespass, however, if you are unsure and you want to regularly run accross the area, maybe it is best to speak to the owner if you can, out of courtesy. If it is only a one off, I would just look around to make sure there is no one around (esp. dogs) and run across as quickly as possible, preferably without damaging any plants etc.
John - there is also 'access land' that you are allowed to walk on despite sometimes appearing to look like private land. Have a look at this website - http://www.naturalengland.org.uk/ourwork/access/openaccess/default.aspx
Theres plenty of decent apps around that can help you out with routes, ive found myself checking out some paths before attempting to run them or even seeing what others may have run in the area.
However, best way I have found is to spend some time rambling around on walks etc just to get a feel of what the paths are like and where they join and lead off too.
Also beware of blocked off paths. I've lost count of the amount of times im heading along a very clearly marked public access path to find it fenced in or with the gates bolted shut in front of me.
"Right to Roam":-
In England and Wales, walkers have the ‘right to roam’ on mapped areas of open countryside and the right to walk on public paths and most roads
"Right to Roam" does not means you can go exactly where you like when you like.
The right does not extend to horseriders, cyclists or vehicles.
Landowners will still be able to close the land for up to 28 days a year
Gardens, parks and cultivated land are excluded.
You can only walk a dog on existing Rights of Way
From the Ramblers.
"Can I walk wherever I want on open countryside without trespassing?"
"No, even with the new freedom to roam in open countryside there are restrictions. First of all to qualify the land must be uncultivated mountain, moor, heath, down and common land, which has been officially mapped. This land is shown in yellow on Ordnance Survey Explorer maps. If you stray off this into domestic spaces, farmland or gardens you are trespassing. Land managers also have the right to close off areas of land for 28 days."
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