Footpaths, bridleways and byways

There are four types of right of way, known collectively as highways, which have different access rights.

Different coloured symbols are used to differentiate between the different types of highway.

Public footpaths

Public Footpath sign

Public Footpath sign

These are signed with a yellow arrow and allow access on foot only.

Some footpaths have widths recorded in our records. Footpaths running between defined natural boundaries, such as hedgerows, run the full width between those boundaries

We usually apply a minimum two-metre width as a standard in the absence of any other evidence as to the path’s width. If there is evidence of greater width being available in the past, we will apply that width.

On arable land (where crops are grown), footpaths should be at least one metre wide across a field and one and a half metres wide around the edge of the field.

Stiles and gates provide access through hedges and fences; bridges across streams and ditches.

Public bridleway

Public Bridleway sign

Public Bridleway sign

These are signed with a blue arrow and allow access on foot, horseback and pedal cycle.

Bridleways running between natural boundaries, such as hedgerows, run the full width between those boundaries.

We usually apply a minimum four metre width as a standard in the absence of any other evidence as to the path’s previous width.

On arable land (where crops are grown), the bridleways should be at least two metres wide across a field and three metres around the edge of the field.

To aid horse riding these should have:

  • sufficient headroom (four metres)
  • no stiles.
  • wide gates and easy to open on horseback

Restricted byways

Restricted byway sign

Restricted byway sign

These are signed with a purple arrow and allow access on:

  • foot
  • horseback
  • pedal cycle
  • non-mechanically propelled vehicles

A right of way for pedestrians, horse-riders, cyclists and horse-drawn carts and carriages.

Most Restricted Byways are former Roads used as Public Paths (RUPPs), which have been reclassified by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.

Public byway

Public byway sign

Public byway sign

These are signed with a red arrow and allow access on:

  • foot
  • horseback
  • pedal cycle
  • wheeled vehicles of all kinds

The surface may not be suitable for motor vehicles.

Dogs must be under close control, preferably on a lead. Be aware that there may be no way for dogs at stiles.

Would normally be expected to be at least five metres wide but this is not always the case. If there is evidence of greater width being available in the past, we will apply that width here.

Gates should be wide enough for vehicular access.

On rights of way you can:

  • Take a pram, pushchair, wheelchair, but expect to encounter stiles on footpaths
  • Take a short alternative route around an illegal obstruction
  • Move an illegal obstruction sufficiently to get past

The countryside code

Follow the Countryside Code - respect, protect, enjoy

  • Be safe – plan ahead and follow any signs
  • Leave gates and property as you find them
  • Protect plants and animals, and take your litter home
  • Keep dogs under close control
  • Consider other people

Visit Gov.uk or more information on the Countryside code and rights of way signage.