I am based in the UK so I can only comment and advise on where you can legally detect in this country.

The answer is simply nowhere unless you have the landowners permission. Here in the UK all land is owned by somebody. It doesn’t matter if it is a public beach or a public park, or a public footpath through a farm, or your local woods or some common land or some random moorland in Yorkshire. In all of these locations you need the landowners permission to use your metal detector on their land.

If you choose to detect on their land without permission then you could be accused of stealing their property or at least going equipped to steal their property. I know that some people laugh about this and take their chances, but detecting without permission is illegal and carries the same penalties as burglary. Yes some parks might turn a blind eye, some police might prefer not to challenge you, but whatever your reasoning or excuse, you still need the owners permission to detect and to remove items from their land. Think of it this way. If I came into your garden, or garage or shed and removed items without your permission would you be happy about that? Just because items are underground it does not make it okay for you to take them away.

Beaches are often okay to detect on without gaining actual permission, but you need to stay away from dunes where there might be wildlife protection issues.

Parks are usually owned by local councils who normally don’t allow metal detecting, but some local councils will grant permission if you ask them. The word public means that the public have access, it doesn’t mean that the public can do what they like and take items from the ground. Likewise public rights of way through farmland are just a right to pass through, not detect and remove items. Your local woods are privately owned, just because there is a public path through there doesn’t mean that you can detect there.

So the only places that you can detect on (other than some beaches) is land where the owner has given you permission to do so. This is usually farmland, but I have had permissions on hotel grounds and private gardens, but if you haven’t got permission then please don’t detect on it.

Unfortunately there isn’t a list of farms that allow metal detecting that you can just download and head off too, and very rarely will someone let you detect on one of their permissions, for a start it isn’t their land to decide to let somebody else on to but secondly getting that permission will have taken time and effort to get so metal detectorists guard the location of their permissions closely.

The only way to get a permission is to get out there and ask. At some point if I get enough interest I will publish a guide to getting permissions and how I do it.

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