Footpaths and Permissive Paths

A walking guide for visitors to our village

One advantage of visiting a rural location is the ready access to a whole series of different walking environments. These consist of lanes, tracks, footpaths, bridleways and permissive paths. However, there are a number of restrictions of which you should be aware. Below is a short article on footpaths, illustrating the difference between a Right of Way (using a footpath) and a restricted access  way (permissive path).

An individual cannot simply walk anywhere they wish, even around field margins. Direct permission must be sought from the land owner before walking across farmland, whether it is cultivated or laying fallow. However, one is entitled to walk along a public footpath. These are marked on the Ordinance Survey Explorer range of maps as green dots. When walking along a public footpath, the user has responsibilities; keeping to the path, walking in single file if necessary, leaving gates as they were found (usually closed), use styles if available, do not disturb livestock. These obligations are used here as an illustration, and not an exhaustive list. There are a number of guides that describe the country code. Just because one sees a track across a field does not necessarily mean there is a public right of way. Look out of finger boards and trace your position on an OS map. Sometimes public footpaths do strange things like making a dog-leg where one would have thought a straight line to the next footpath across the field would make sense. Unfortunately there are a number of reasons that footpaths are not necessarily continuous. Remember that just because a track can be seen across a field does not necessary mean that it is a public right of way. I will illustrate just a situation below. Sorry about it being a sketch, but OS maps have a copyright.

Here is a couple of photographs to illustrate the point, I have been making.

There is actually no Right of Way ahead. The footpath goes bottom right, not straight across.

The first one is used to indicate the “Dog-leg” from the northern side of the field.


It appears that there is a path straight across the field to the lane on the other side of the field, and pick up the footpath on the other side of the lane.

However, there is no Right of Way here, as can be seen from the view at the other side of the field; the second photograph.

No Right Of Way here, despite a path being seen.



If you encounter such signage or the map you are using does not show the footpath, then it is most likely that there is no public footpath.



A permissive path is a route which has been created with the permission of the landowner. Significant restrictions can be placed upon its use, for example the route can be closed for a time, as agreed with the landowner; perhaps for lambing. However, a permissive path is NOT a Right of Way. A permissive path can be seen from Wroxham Barns to Hoveton.

This entry was posted in Blog and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.