Rights of Way Enforcement in Northumberland
In Northumberland there are over 5000km (3000
miles) of public rights of way (footpaths, bridleways, restricted
byways and byways open to all traffic). Public rights of way
are paths that you have a right to use at any time.
Landowners or not allowed to obstruct or otherwise prevent you from
using a public right of way.
On a footpath you have a right to pass on
foot, and you are allowed to take a dog with you as long as your
dog is kept under close control. You are also allowed to take a
wheel chair (although often the path surfaces are too soft or
uneven to allow this).
On a bridleway you have all the rights of a
footpath, and in addition you can ride or lead a horse, or
take a bicycle.
On a restricted byway you have all the rights
of a bridleway and in addition you can take a non-mechanically
On a byway open to all traffic all users
including those in mechanically propelled vehicles have a right to
use the path.
You can find out where your local public
rights of way are by looking at an Ordnance Survey map or
by following this link to the Council's Definitive
Map of Rights of Way.
The County Council’s responsibilities
- The County Council, as Highway Authority is
- Asserting and protecting the rights of the
public to use public rights of way
- Ensuring that the public rights of way
network is properly maintained
- Ensuring that public rights of way are free
- Ensuring that public rights of way are
signposted where they leave metalled roads
- Ensuring that landowners and managers comply
with their legal responsibilities in relation to the maintenance of
stiles and gates on public rights of way, and the reinstatement of
paths that have been disturbed through cultivation
The landowner or occupier’s responsibilities
- The landowner or occupier is responsible
- Providing and maintaining stiles and
- Cutting back overhanging vegetation that may
obstruct a public right of way
- Not obstructing, or damaging the surface of a
right of way
- Ensuring that field edge paths are left free
from cultivation for the legal minimum width of 1.5m for a public
footpath and 3m for a public bridleway.
- Reinstating cross field paths so that the
route is visible on the ground, within 14 days of ploughing or
within 24 hours of any subsequent disturbance of the path
- Ensuring that paths through arable crops are
free from obstructing crop growth to the legal minimum width of 1m
for a footpath and 2m for a bridleway.
Reporting a problem
If you encounter a problem while using a
public right of way you can report it to us and we will investigate
the problem and seek to resolve it as soon as possible. You
can contact us to report a problem by email by clicking
Getting involved with your local
We are keen to encourage the involvement of
local community and parish groups in the maintenance and
improvement of local path networks and we have produced a booklet
Paths in Northumberland. A practical guide to action on rights of
way for local groups' to give details of how you can get
involved and how we can help.
If you are considering forming a local group
to get involved in monitoring and improving your local path
network, please get in touch with the Countryside Team at County
Hall on 0845 600 6400.