Maintaining public rights of way

What a public right of way is, who can use it, is there a map, walking, cycling and riding information, a right to roam, how wide is it, who looks after rights of way, temporary closures and can new structures be erected.

What is a public right of way?

All public rights of way are highways, which you are entitled to use at any time. Rights of way are classified according to the nature of their use. There are four categories of rights of way.


Marked with a yellow arrow and should be used by the public on foot only.


Marked with a blue arrow and may be used by the public on foot, cycle or on horseback.

Byway Open To All Traffic (BOAT)

Marked with a red arrow and are available for use on foot, cycle, on horseback and motorised vehicle.

Restricted Byways

Available to users on foot, cycle, horseback and carriage drivers but not to mechanically propelled vehicles.

(Restricted Byway replaces RUPPS - Roads used as a public path through the countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000.)

Most rights of way run across privately owned land and the responsibility for looking after rights of way rests with the East Riding of Yorkshire Council, as highway authority, although the landowner or farmer has obligations as well.

Public rights of way should always be free from obstructions and cannot be built on unless a legal order is confirmed to divert the route to a new line. Routes that are rarely used are not lost and always remain protected.

Who can usepublic rights of way?

Anyone can use the public rights of way.

Can I take my dog along a public right of way?

You may take your dog with you, provided that it is kept under close control and remains on the path and does not "worry" livestock. When walking through a field with sheep then you must keep it on a lead. When walking in a field with cows and calves please be conscious of the behaviour of the cows, and release your dog from the lead if approached. Always try and look out for a safe exit point in case you are approached by aggressive farm animals.

Please remember that dog control orders apply to all public rights of way, parks and countryside sites and require dog owners to clean up and to keep dogs under close control.

Can I take a pushchair or wheelchair along a public right of way?

Pushchairs and wheelchairs are permitted to be taken along public rights of way if it is practical to do so. The recommended routes on the Walking the Riding website have information about the accessibility of each of the chosen routes:

Walking the Riding (external East Riding website)

For rights of way not included within a recommended walk, the best way of finding out is to ask your Local Rights of Way Officer for information about the route.

We are working to improve the accessibility of routes, we would like to hear from you if you want to use routes but structures are stopping you from enjoying the countryside.

Is there a map of public rights of way in the East Riding?

The definitive map is the legal record of all public rights of way currently recorded in the East Riding. The definitive map and Statement of Public Rights of Way (definitive map) can be viewed at the council`s archives and local studies collections within the Treasure House:

The Treasure House
Champney Road
East Riding of Yorkshire
HU17 9BG. 

For reasons of copyright, photocopies of the definitive map cannot be provided.

An electronic working copy map is available online at the Walking the Riding website. This is not the definitive map but shows the routes so that you can see if you are entitled to use a particular route. It is also useful for creating your own routes.

Walking the Riding (external website)

The information derived from the definitive map is used by Ordnance Survey to produce their OS "Explorer" maps, and are available locally from bookshops and Tourist Information Centres.

The definitive statement accompanies the map and can give further information such as length, the width of the way, recording gates and stiles and any limitations.

The definitive map and statement can be amended using statutory processes.

Where can I get walking, riding and cycling information?

Ordnance Survey "Explorer" maps are published at a scale of 1:25000 and are an easy way to get information on a wide range of public access available. The maps show public rights of way information, accessible woodland, country parks, parking, pubs and Tourist Information Centres (TICs). They are available from most bookshops and TICs.

We have developed a range of promoted access leaflets and publications that are available to help you enjoy the East Riding countryside. Free town centre walking and cycling maps and leisure cycle maps are available to download from the Transport Policy pages of this website:

Town centre walking and cycling maps

Visit Hull and East Yorkshire has developed 8 Big Skies Bike Rides that are longer distance routes inspired by the artwork of David Hockney. Ride maps and information can be downloaded from:

Visit Hull and East Yorkshire - Big Skies, Big Rides (external council website)

We also manage the Walking the Riding website that has information on over 300 leisure walks in the area. You can use the site to search for a suitable route for mountain bikes and horse riders:

Walking the Riding (external council website)

If you would prefer to walk as part of a group or would like to introduce exercise into your daily routine, we run a Walking for Health programme with led walks starting from towns and villages across the East Riding.

There are also leaflets and guide books published by independent groups that are available from most local bookshops and TICs.

Is there a right to roam?

You are not allowed to go wherever you want in the countryside. 

You are welcome to use the public rights of way network, nature reserves, parks, beaches and some woods. 

You can wander wherever you want on land mapped as 'access land', and many of the dry chalk valleys in the Yorkshire wolds offer opportunities to wander off public rights of way.

How wide is a right of way?

If a path has a recorded width in the definitive statement, then that is the legal width of the right of way. Generally, there are few paths with a recorded width in the statement.

If no width is recorded, then the width of the right of way is that which the public has used. Where a right of way has fences or hedges either side of the path then it will normally be the whole width between the boundaries that has been dedicated as a right of way.

The Rights of Way Act 1990 sets out legal widths for the reinstatement of public rights of way after ploughing or sowing crops.

Paths that have been disturbed should be reinstated to a minimum width of:

  • 1.0 metre for a crossfield footpath
  • 2.0 metres for a crossfield bridleway

Farmers are not permitted to plough field edge paths and the minimum widths that should be left undisturbed are:

  • 1.5 metres for a field edge footpath
  • 3.0 metres for a field edge bridleway

Who looks after public rights of way in the East Riding?

East Riding of Yorkshire Council is responsible for the management of all recorded public rights of way within the administrative boundary.

Many public rights of way run across privately owned land and the responsibility for looking after rights of way rest with the council although the landowner or farmer has obligations as well.

A small group of routes are not recorded on the list of streets that are maintained by the council, by virtue of the way in which they were dedicated as highways. These routes are treated slightly differently in maintenance terms.

We are responsible for:

  • Signposting rights of way where they leave the road
  • Waymarking paths along their route where necessary
  • Keeping rights of way in reasonable repair and clearing surface vegetation
  • Ensuring that they are free from obstructions
  • Ensuring that farmers and landowners reinstate rights of way after ploughing or cropping
  • Helping farmers and landowners to maintain gates in good condition
  • Maintaining the definitive map and statement, which is the legal record of public rights of way
  • Consideration of applications for the legal diversion of public rights of way
  • Considering applications to modify the definitive map.

Landowners and farmers are responsible for:

  • keeping all paths free from obstruction
  • cutting back overhanging vegetation
  • reinstatement of paths after ploughing and keeping them clear of growing crops
  • maintaining gates and stiles
  • not ploughing paths that run along a field edge.

Is it possible to temporarily close or divert a public right of way?

Temporary orders under the Road Traffic Act can be used where necessary to ensure that planned engineering works or development can take place and the public can be excluded from the site for their own safety, for a reasonable period.

Charges are made for this work, and if you wish to make a request, please contact us online.

Please note: the authority expects the applicant to carry out consultations with the user groups prior to submitting an application. The authority needs at least two months notice to complete the legal process and is not under any obligation to accept an application.

Can new structures be erected on a public right of way?

Existing structures such as stiles and gates can be replaced by landowners, but in doing so they must ensure that these are easy to use and meet the principles of the British standard for gaps, gates and stiles as far as is practical.

New structures erected on the public rights of way network must be authorised by the council as highway authority. Strict rules and conditions apply to this process, and often it is not possible for a new structure to be authorised. 

Unauthorised structures remain an obstruction and the council reserves the right to remove these.

If you would like to erect a new structure, you must contact us online.

How can I report a issue on a public right of way?

Read more about how you can report an issue on a public right of way online.

This is the Area Officers map which helps customers find the right person to speak to:

Public Rights of Way - Area Officers (pdf 3.1mb)

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