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What is a public right of way?

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Public Rights of Way are paths and tracks which anyone can use to cross private land. Rights of way exist in towns, villages and the countryside and you have a legal right to use them at any time of the day or night, all year round.

All rights of way should be marked by a signpost or waymark where they leave a surfaced road and generally at points along the route. It is a good idea taking an Ordnance Survey map if you do not know the area.

Yellow waymark for a footpath

Footpath - a highway where you have a right of way:

  • on foot only

Blue waymark for a bridleway

Bridleway - a highway where you have a right of way:

  • on foot
  • on any pedal cycle
  • on horseback

Purple waymark for a restricted byway

Restricted byway - a highway where you have a right of way:

  • on a horse drawn vehicle (eg. horse and cart)
  • on foot
  • on any pedal cycle
  • on horseback

Red waymark for a byway open to all traffic

Byway Open to All Traffic (BOAT) - a highway where you have a right of way:

  • on a horse drawn vehicle (eg. horse and cart)
  • on foot
  • on any pedal cycle
  • on horseback
  • on wheeled vehicles of any kind ( including cars and motorbikes)

Note that the surface of this type of byway does not have to be of a standard that ordinary cars can drive over it.

General Information

How do I read a map?

Ordnance Survey, who produce Britain’s detailed mapping, have produced basic guides to map reading for both adults and children.

Can I take a pram, pushchair or wheelchair on a right of way?

Yes, if it is physically possible. Prams and pushchairs are considered to be a ‘usual accompaniment’ of a person on foot. Wheelchairs are also permitted.

Can I take a dog on a right of way?

Yes you can, but the dog should not run off the definitive line of the path and you must keep it under close control.

Every year there are recorded cases of walkers suffering injury from livestock whilst using rights of way,a common factor in livestock attacks is the presence of dogs. You should always be very careful when walking your dog through fields which contain livestock, especially where there are cows with calves. You can find out more about walking your dog in the countryside and the Countryside Code on the Natural England website

Can I stop for a picnic or to photograph the view when I am on a right of way?

You can stop for a while to admire the view or take a photograph. Providing that you do not cause an obstruction you may stop for a rest, eat a simple picnic or make a sketch.

What is a 'permissive' route/path?

These are not public rights of way but public use is specifically allowed by the landowner. Some of these are waymarked with “permissive route” waymarkers, there are also other areas the public can use such as some nature reserves and country parks

What is The Countryside Code?

The Countryside Code makes it clear what the responsibilities are for both the public and people who manage the land. It applies in England and Wales.

Contact Details (LiveLink)

Multiple Contacts:
eMail: rightsofway@wiltshire.gov.uk
Telephone: 01225 756178
Out of hours:
Fax:
Postal Address:

Rights of Way
Wiltshire Council
County Hall
Trowbridge
Wiltshire
BA14 8JN


In Person:
DX:

Last updated: 3 January 2013

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Rights of Way
Wiltshire Council
County Hall
Trowbridge
Wiltshire
BA14 8JN