Rights of way information for farmers

We appreciate the care that farmers take in looking after public rights of way.

Cultivation and ploughing fields

You must not cultivate footpaths or bridleways that follow a field edge.

You may plough a public right of way that stretches across a field only if it is not convenient to avoid disturbing the path.

However, your right to disturb the path only applies if you are in a position to reinstate it. The path must be levelled and made visible:

  • within 14 days of the first disturbance
  • within 24 hours of any subsequent disturbance

Throughout the season paths must be kept clear of growing or overhanging crops so that clearance is provided to the minimum widths.

It is not sufficient to leave the path in a seedbed.

Field edge routes must not be disturbed or ploughed.

Landowners should not endanger or obstruct the public’s use with hedge growth, trees or shrubs.


The route must be visible across the field so that it is convenient for use by the public.

Upon full emergence, the crop must be removed to at least the minimum widths.


Rights of way must be kept at a usable width from land that has been cultivated.

If there is no recorded width the minimum statutory requirements for cross-field and field edge widths are:

  • at least 1 metre for a footpath across a field
  • at least 1.5 metres for a footpath at a fields edge
  • 2 metres for a bridleway across a field
  • 3 metres for a bridleway at a fields edge

This can be done either by consolidating the line or by setting poles in pairs at visible distances.

Certain types of crops, such as oilseed rape, are prone to fall. A greater width should be applied in these cases.


GOV.UK provides guidance on the animals that are banned on land containing public rights of way.

If you would like to install a gate to protect/enclose livestock, you will need to apply to install a gate across a public footpath, byway or bridleway.

More information

For further information: