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Gold Panning Code Of Conduct & Safety Guide (Responsible Gold Panning and Prospecting)

Friendly Information Provided

All details and information provided on this page is provided impartially, upon a basis of "in our opinion only"; and whereas we make no warranties (whether expressed or implied) in relation to its accuracy.

Gold Prospecting vs. Gold Mining

In General Terms:

Gold Prospecting is searching for gold deposits which may involve the use of gold panning to confirm that gold is present in test spots.

Gold Mining is both the extraction and removal of gold from it's location, with or without the use of gold panning.

Responsible Gold Panning & Prospecting In The UK

Be responsible in making sure you are fully aware of any land access, permitted, restricted or prohibited laws or guidelines in place and fully understand what equipment you are permitted to use. Responsible Gold Panning & Prospecting In The UK


  • Make sure any required permit has been obtained.  
  • You should always seek out landowners or estate owners permissions before entering, regardless of it being common land, private land, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), forestry land, national trust or any other.
  • If denied access please respect the decision and find somewhere else.
  • Be aware of any land access, permitted, restricted or prohibited laws or guidelines in place. Visits to certain locations may be limited to only a few times a year by each individual.
  • The Crown does not and will not grant permits to gold pan; local authorities and landowners let gold panning take place at their discretion.


  • Always observe any restricted areas, and times when panning it not allowed. The restrictions are usually in place to protect something, like the salmon spawning season.
  • Unless you have been given permission, you should not dig into the banks of rivers, streams or their tributaries what's so ever, or perform any other landscape intrusive methods such as digging into land or borrowing into mountains etc.
  • Some location requirements are for workings to be keep to the centre of the waters and avoid getting close to the banks.
  • When excavating large holes down to the bedrock, always back fill when leaving the site for the day. If intensions are to return working the hole the following day, simple fill in with the larger rocks which can be easily removed when returning.
  • Don't throw the rocks you remove onto the stream banks, or outside of the stream.
  • Always take your rubbish and litter away with you. Never leave it, even if you have bagged it up, take it away. Leaving bagged up rubbish by streams usually gets torn open by sheep and other animals. This rubbish often becomes the landowner's responsibility to remove it.
  • Camp fires should be fully extinguished, and the burnt remains could be covered over or buried. Redistribute any stones used around the fire area, and try to make the burnt area more presentable.
  • If you are building a camp fire close to one that was made previously, use that same burnt area, rather than starting a new one.

Gold Panning, Prospecting Tools and Mining Equipment

  • Adhere to any regulations in place with regards to what equipment you may use. Usually power machine dredging is not allowed.
  • There may also be further restrictions of equipment allowed imposed by the land or estate owners, environmental agencies or local authorities.
  • You may be permitted to use a manual dredge (commonly know as a gravel pump or Henderson pump), or you may not!
  • The diameter of a gravel pump may be limited to a specific size, commonly that of a typical drain down pipe (68 mm).
  • You may be able to use a sluice, however the overall length may be limited to a particular length.
  • You may only be able to use a gold pan and classifier, with a bucket and small mini shovel.
  • Equipment such as power motorised dredges are prohibited unless granted by the land owner.


  • Streams can be a dangerous place particularly when in flood. Always be aware of potential dangers and don't take unnecessary risks that could in danger either you or someone else's heath and life.
  • If working around large rocks and boulders particularly when pumping away gravels, be careful that they don't move and pin your feet or legs. If your leg gets trapped by one it could be impossible to move it!
  • When panning with the family, take care with younger children, people have drowned and been hit by falling rocks.
  • If panning in remote locations, make sure other people are aware where you intend going and for how long. It makes sense to take a mobile phone, whistle, a survival blanket and water.

Unofficial Information

This is not an official document, however just some points to help prevent recreational gold panning from being banned and some tips to keep safe.