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Public Footpaths

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.

Agricultural Activities

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.

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.