type of footpaths

Almost all the footpaths in Britain are on land owned by someone, keep this in mind and behave accordingly. Different 'sorts' of paths can be identified.

Public footpaths and bridleways these are often referred to as rights of way. A right of way is defined as "a right established by usage to pass over another's land". Such rights may be legally provided in title deeds or they may simply have developed by the tread of feet over a longperiod of time. Where rights of way do exist it is incumbent upon the owner or tenant to permit through access by means of stiles and gates and keep the route free from hazard, e.g. bulls.The owner might rightly object if the walker does damage, or leaves litter. He may not complain if one pauses to enjoy the view, or to eat lunch.

Public roads are dedicated for the use of the public, on wheels or afoot. Except when prohibited such as walking on motorways.

Private roads, including most farm access roads, have no rights of way unless established by use and recorded on the footpath maps maintained by the local authorities.

Common ground may be freely wandered over by all.

BeenThere DoneThat guide to Britain has an illustrated page about different types of paths, the way the are waymarked and an example of how to navigate a public footpath through an agricultural landscape. Which may not always as straightforward as it seems to be.

the country code

Whilst navigating the British countryside the Country Code provide excellent guidance for behaviour during short rambles and walking long distance footpaths. The twelve points of the Country Code are:
  • Guard against all risks of fire
  • Fasten all gates
  • Use gates and stiles to cross fences, hedges and walls
  • Keep your dogs under close control
  • Keep to public paths across farmland
  • Take your litter home
  • Help to keep all water clean
  • Protect all wildlife, plants and trees
  • Take special care on country roads
  • Enjoy the countryside and respect its life and work
  • Make no unnecessary noise
  • Leave livestock, crops and machinery alone

Part of the text is based on Walker's Britain, published by Pan Books/Ordnance Survey, 1992 edition, partly from the official guide of The Westhighland Way, but there is a large part common sense.