Rights and responsibilities

Your rights

  • on a Public Footpath, you have the right to walk along a defined route. You may walk your dog if it is kept under close control.
  • on a Public Bridleway, you have the right to walk or ride a horse or a bicycle along a defined route. Again, you may walk a dog, but should keep it under close control.
  • on a Byway Open to All Traffic (BOAT), you may travel on foot, horseback and pedal cycle. A BOAT may also be used by vehicles, but don't expect a tarmaced surface!

You are allowed to:

  • make a journey, with reasonable rest along the way.
  • take a pram, pushchair, wheelchair, but expect to encounter stiles on footpaths
  • take a dog, preferably on a lead or under close control.
  • take a short alternative route around an illegal obstruction.
  • remove an illegal obstacle sufficiently to get past.

The Council's responsibilities

  • maintaining bridges over natural watercourses
  • signposting and, where appropriate, waymarking of footpaths, bridleways and byways
  • administering the law concerning Rights of Way and, in particular, ensuring that the public can use them
  • making grants to farmers or landowners of at least a quarter of the cost of maintaining approved stiles and bridle gates
  • the updating and continuous review of Public Rights of Way on the definitive map and statement. This map may be inspected at the Town Hall or at the Central Library. Copies are supplied to Parish Councils
  • maintaining and controlling natural vegetation on the surface of footpaths and bridleways. In practice, few field paths receive routine maintenance and walkers should be prepared to use boots or appropriate footwear

Farmer, landowner and manager responsibilities

Farmers, landowners and managers should:

  • know where Public Rights of Way cross their land, and maintain stiles and bridle gates in good order.
  • refrain from obstructing the paths, and cut back overhanging vegetation.
  • refrain from ploughing a footpath or bridleway, which constitutes a headland of a field, or runs alongside a hedgerow.
  • ensure that paths across fields are reinstated two weeks after ploughing.
  • ensure that disturbance to paths following drainage schemes is put right without delay.
  • not allow any bull over ten months free range of any field through which a footpath or bridleway passes.
  • get consent from us before erecting new stiles or gates.
  • provide adequate bridges where new ditches are made or existing ones widened.

Countryside code [external link]