Rights of Way Explained

Definitions of the various classifications and how they are shown on an OS map are given below
1. Public Footpaths - the only traffic allowed on are walkers or people using invalid carriages, pushchairs or prams. It is illegal to ride cycles or horses, or drive motor vehicles on these routes. Footpaths are shown as small broken red dashes on 1:50,000 maps (but green on 1:25,000 maps)

2. Public Bridleways - all traffic including pedestrians, pedal cycles, horses and invalid carriages. Driving motor vehicles of any kind is illegal. Bridleways are shown as large broken dashes coloured red on 1:50,000 maps and green on 1:25,000 maps.

3. Byway or Green Lane - before the amendments introduced by the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 a byway was open to all vehicular traffic. Since the Act though, the use of byways is limited to the same traffic described for bridleways. Byways are shown as red crosses on 1:50,000 maps and green crosses on 1:25,000 maps.

4. Byway Open to all Traffic (BOAT) - these used to be called Roads Used as Public Paths (RUPP). The name was changed by Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000. Other routes with public access are shown as red dots on the 1:50,000 maps and green dots on the 1:25,000 maps.

5. National Trails/Long Distance Routes - since the designation of the Pennine Way, Britain’s first long distance footpath, many national trails have followed. National Trails are shown as red diamonds on the 1:50,000 maps and green diamonds on the 1:25,000 maps. These routes, from start to finish, can include public footpaths, bridleways, green lanes, BOAT’s and even some Permitted routes.

6. Permitted Route - this isn’t a public right of way but a track where the landowner has given permission for access, usually by agreement with the local authority. In some cases, a landowner will allow the use of land for hobbies such as off-roading or horse riding. Because users don’t have a legal right to use permitted paths, access can be closed at any time the owner sees fit.

The symbols for permitted paths are the same as the 1:50,000 and 1:25,000 maps but are coloured orange. In recent times with the popularity of off-road cycling, a new style of privately agreed route has come into existence – Off-Road Cycle Routes. These are depicted by orange dots on the 1:25,000 maps and on the 1:50,000 maps.

A route depicted with black dashes or dots are private roads or tracks. The public can enter the land if allowed by the landowner or if they cross upland areas or commons that fall into the scope of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.