A Guide to Public Footpaths
This modest Guide attempts only to help walkers to identify the definitive routes of public footpaths, bridleways and roads used as public paths (RUPPs) within the parish, with brief notes on rights, duties and offences. The routes and the route notes are derived from the Definitive Map and the Definitive Statement issued by the highway authority in 1982.
Each public path is numbered on the map and the route notes. There is a signpost (SP) where each path joins a metalled highway, and the location of each SP is marked with a letter on the map and referred to as, for example, SP 'A'; and where there is a SP on each side of a metalled highway, each is distinguished by a number as in SP 'H' (ii). The parish council hope to put more waymarks where necessary, and intend, with the aid of the highway authority, to enforce removal of obstructions still impeding the use of rights of way. The route notes describe each path as starting from the end nearest the centre of the village.
Rights of Way
Public footpaths, bridleways and RUPPs are highways, over which there are public rights of way, but the rights on a footpath are limited to passing and re-passing and anything reasonably ancillary thereto, such as taking a dog under close control (it is an offence to take a dog not on a lead across a field of sheep); on a bridleway there are additional rights to ride a horse and to ride a bicycle provided its rider gives way to all other lawful users; and on a RUPP there are further additional rights dependent upon classification. Other highways are outside the scope of this Guide.
Minimum Widths of Footpaths
The right to pass and re-pass effectively defines the minimum width of a footpath, now generally taken to be 1½ metres to allow for two men shoulder to shoulder with reasonable room on each side; for a footpath along a headland beside a hedge, 3½ metres from the centre of the hedge to allow for overgrowth and the width of 1½ metres; and for a bridleway, 2½ metres.
Deviation from Footpaths
A user may remove an obstruction provided its removal is necessary to allow him to pass along the path and provided he is using the path in the normal course of passage and has not gone out especially to remove the obstruction and provided he could not reasonably have skirted the obstruction, but normally, deviation from a definitive route without lawful authority is a trespass. In several instances, local landowners offer and have way-marked alternative routes, and though that may confer lawful authority to deviate, it in no way abridges the right to use the definitive route. The general rule is that users are entitled to the convenient exercise of the rights of way.
It is an offence in any circumstances for a landowner, occupier or other person to plough so much of a footpath or bridleway as runs along a headland, or to grow crops on a footpath so as to obstruct it, and though he may plough a footpath where it crosses a field the occupier must restore the surface as soon as may be and in any event within 2 weeks of beginning to plough unless prevented by exceptional weather.
Stiles and Gates
Any stile, gate or similar structure across a footpath or bridleway must be maintained by the landowner in a safe condition and to the standard of repair required to prevent unreasonable interference with the rights of users. The surface and bridges of all definitive footpaths and bridleways in the parish are maintainable to an appropriate standard by the highway authority at public expense. The parish council intend, with the aid of the highway authority, to enforce removal of obstructions still impeding the use of rights of way.
Public Footpath Details
Links to individual footpath maps are also available below.
Starting north of Gorston House (originally the Butchers Arms pub), at SP 'H' (i), the path runs through a gateway, west across pasture to a vertical stone stile in the remains of a wall, then over a fence and west north west along a headland on the north face of a hedge to a stile at SP 'V' (i). Across the road, the path leads from SP 'V' (ii) along a headland on the south face of a hedge bordering a spinney to a fallen stone stile at the corner. At the stile the path enters the spinney, runs north east until emerging at the end of a hedge where it turns north to follow a headland on the east face of the hedge to a vertical stone stile, from where is passes a quarry, enters another spinney and ends at a hunting gate at SP 'D'.
Starting at SP 'F', the path crosses arable land, running from the north east to the south west corner of a spinney, then through the spinney to its north east corner where it turns east across arable to end at 5P 'E'.
Starting at the top of Hunts Hill, at a vertical stone stile at SP 'N', the path runs between a dry stone wall and a close-boarded fence to a wooden stile where it turns north/northwest across pasture to a fallen stone stile then through a hedge to turn north across arable to a point where a hedge has been removed on rising ground, to turn west northwest to end at SP 'H' (ii).
Starting at a vertical stone stile at SP 'I', the path runs north then east north east across arable land to end at SP 'G'.
Starting across the road to the north of the village post office (no longer open!) at SP 'O', the path runs north along the western edge of the car park to a field gate then continues north across arable land to end at a wooden stile at SP 'I' (ii).
Starting from the south east corner of Ampney Ridings (a wood) on Akeman Street, at SP 'B', the path runs north close along the east face of the boundary wall of the wood, past a spring with a small pool, then through a short section of the wood to a wooden stile from where it crosses pastures to another wooden stile, a private road, a third wooden stile and then north east across pasture to the parish boundary where it joins Barnsley footpath BBY 2.
Starting on Akeman Street at a wooden stile at SP 'A', the path follows a farm track north to a waymark where it turns west, then north again at another waymark where it crosses a wooden bridge and follows a headland on the western edge of a spinney to join BAC 8 and Barnsley footpath BBY 2.
The path links the southern and northern stretches of Ampney St Mary footpath BAM 1. It starts at a double gate on the boundary, runs north across a wooden bridge and stile and along a headland on the west face of a hedge on the parish boundary, then rejoins BAM1 where the boundary turns west, and BAM 1 ends at a wooden bridge and vertical stone stile at SP 'C' on Akeman Street.
Starting north of the turning to Hilcot End, at SP 'J', the path runs east between two hedges and north of a spinney towards the east end, to an arable field ending at its intersection with BAC 12.
The path runs from SP 'K' between the entrances to "The Russets" and "Hilcot View", along a narrow way between two fences to a stile and plank, then north northeast across an arable field, past the end of BAC 11, through a gateway to the parish boundary where it intersects Ampney St Mary footpath BAM 1.
The path starts at the stile and plank on BAC 12 and runs east across an arable field to end at BAC 14.
The path starts at its junction with BAC 12 and runs south east across arable land to a wooden stile on the parish boundary where it joins Ampney St Mary footpath BAM 2.
Starting at an open gateway (the vertical stone stile having been removed) at SP 'R', near Dudley Corner, the path runs north east across arable land to end at SP 'L' at Hilcot End.
Starting at The Pleydells at SP 'M', the path runs south east to a wooden bridge, then south southeast across arable land to join BAC 18 north west of Ford Farm.
Starting at the north corner of a pasture, at a vertical stone stile adjacent to the entrance to "Willow Dene", at SP 'P', the path runs east southeast along a headland to a wooden bridge and stile, then across arable land to intersect BAC 18 and ends at BAC 19 west of Ford Farm.
Starting in School Lane, at SP 'Q', the path runs through a gateway west across pasture to a second gateway, then west southwest to a stile over a wire fence, continuing across arable land to intersect BAC 17 and ends at BAC 19 west of Ford farm.
Starting opposite the east end of Church Walk, at a stone stile in the form of a step at SP 'T', the path runs along the north face of a close-boarded fence between "Pippins" and "Berkeley Cottage" to a wooden stile, then between the cricket ground and the football pitch to a wooden footbridge and stile, across arable land to join a farm track north of Ford Farm, and ends at School Lane at SP 'S' (i).
Starting on the A417 at a stone stile at SP 'W', east of Waterton Farm House, the path crosses a wooden stile and runs southeast through soft fruit beds to end at a gate on the Driffield road at SP 'X'.
Starting in School Lane, opposite the end of BAC 19, at SP 'S' (ii), the path runs east through pasture to a wicket gate, then east northeast across arable land to the corner of a dry stone wall from where it follows the headland to join Pound Lane, BAC 22, at a waymark.
BAC 22 is an unmetalled road used as a public path (RUPP) running from the village street at the Dudley Corner post box, at SP 'Y' south between hedges to the old London Road at SP 'Z'.
Starting north of Dudley Corner at the junction with BAC 15 at SP 'R', the path runs east across arable land to the parish boundary (where a hedge has been removed) where it joins BAC 24 and Ampney St. Mary footpath BAM 12.
Starting from the east end of BAC 23, the path runs south across arable land to a vertical stone stile at SP 'U' opposite the entrance to Ampney St Mary footpaths, BAM 10 and BAM 11.
Starting on the A417, at a finger post west of Waterton Farm House pointing to Preston, the path runs south, passing through a field gate to a stone stile on the parish boundary, to join Preston footpath BPR 10.
From the Village Street just north of SP 'T' and by an old cross, the path runs west through a wooded area, over a private road and on to Church Lane opposite the church.
From just north of SP 'J' on Riding Lane, the path runs east for 160 meters alongside a hedge and merges into BAC 11.
The Country Code
The Country Code, produced by the Countryside Commission, offers sound advice:
- Enjoy the countryside and respect its life and work
- Guard against all risk of fire
- Fasten all gates
- Keep your dogs under close control
- Keep to public paths across farmland
- Use gates and stiles to cross fences, hedge and walls
- Leave livestock, crops and machinery alone
- Take your litter home
- Help to keep all water clean
- Protect wildlife, plants and trees
- Take special care on country roads
- Make no unnecessary noise
'The Blue Book' or Rights Of Way: A Guide to Law and Practice as it is officially known, is the definitive guide to rights of way law in England and Wales published jointly by the Ramblers and the Open Spaces Society in 2007.
The Blue Book can be purchased from Cordee over the phone by calling 01455 611185. For full purchasing details visit the Cordee website.