A right of way is a public path. Anyone may 'pass or re-pass' along a right of way, at any time.
Rights of way provide routes into the countryside and around towns and can be wide tracks or narrow trails.
They are signposted from roads (look for signposts like the one pictured) and are often waymarked to show the route and make the paths easy to follow.
There are four different types of right of way:
Footpaths – These are marked with yellow arrows and should only be used on foot
Bridleways – These are marked with blue arrows and can be used on foot, horseback and pedal cycles
Restricted byways - These are marked with a plum coloured arrow and are open to walkers, cyclists, horse riders and vehicles that are not mechanically propelled (such as horse and cart)
Byways – These are marked with a red arrow and are open to all traffic.
On a right of way you can:
Take a pram, pushchair or wheelchair but expect to encounter stiles on footpaths
Take a dog, which should be under close control especially near livestock. You may find, however, that stiles have not been specially designed to allow dogs to pass through them
Take a short alternative route around an illegal obstacle
Remove an illegal obstruction if you are unable to get past.
There's an ancient common law right to pass and repass along highways at all times. Footpaths and bridleways are highways. They only differ from other forms of highway, such as roads, by the type of traffic entitled to use them and that they're mostly across private land. Lack of use has no effect on the legal existence of a right of way.
You can walk on all rights of way, footpaths, bridleways, byways and restricted byways which are all shown on Ordnance Survey Landranger and Explorer maps.
Looking after Nottinghamshire's rights of way
The Council is responsible for looking after the right of way network in Nottinghamshire.
Ensuring that the legal line of the path is easy to find (clearly signposted) and easy to follow (free from obstructions and waymarked). If you come across a problem on a right of way you can report path problems online
Keeping the surface of a right of way in good repair, including bridges and culverts
Ensuring paths are free from growing crops and that the line of the path is reinstated if it is disturbed by ploughing
Ensuring that all stiles and gates are in good condition
Maintaining the Definitive Map, which provides a legal record of rights of way in Nottinghamshire
Considering applications to make legal changes to rights of way
Promoting the use of this network of paths for walking, cycling and horse riding and producing publications for you to enjoy
Operating Parish Paths Partnership and Farm Partnership schemes, which are initiatives allowing members of the farming and land-owning community, parish and local councils to be more actively involved in the management and maintenance of the rights of way network
Producing a Rights of Way Improvement Plan outlining how we can improve the rights of way in Nottinghamshire
Establishing and running a Local Access Forum
Providing a land search service to advise on the existence of rights of way in a given location.
The County Council has the power to make Gating Orders in circumstances where recorded crime and anti social behaviour can be significantly reduced by stopping access along a footpath, bridleway, ginnel or similar. See the Gating Orders currently in effect in Nottinghamshire.