Public rights of way

A public right of way is a path recorded on the Definitive Map and Statement under the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949. These paths can vary in nature from rural to urban paths, but shouldn’t be confused with ‘footways’ which are ways set aside for pedestrians at the edge of a carriageway (usually known as a pavement).

There are various forms of public rights of way:

  • Footpaths – over which the right of way is on foot only.
  • Bridleways – over which the right of way is on foot, riding or leading a horse and on pedal cycles.
  • Restricted byway – (formally a Road Used as a Public Path – or a RUPP) – over which the right of way is on foot, riding or leading a horse, and also in or on vehicles other than mechanically-propelled vehicles – which gives a right of way for pedal cycles and drivers of horse-drawn vehicles.
  • Byway open to all traffic – over which the right of way is for vehicular traffic, but is used mainly for the purposes for which footpaths and bridleways are used.
  • Green lane – a term which holds no legal meaning.  It is instead more of a description of the nature of a track, which may, or may not carry public rights of way.  These paths are therefore not recorded on the definitive map.
  • Permissive paths -  where the landowner (which may be the council) has given permission for the public to walk across their land. These paths are also not recorded on the definitive map.

If you would like to find out if a path is a public right of way please contact the Public Rights of Way section.

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