How to get a blocked right of way fixed
Help us remove barriers to walking by reporting and fixing problems on rights of way near you.
Our advice on what to do when you find a path that is blocked or unusable
Paths that are blocked or unusable make it harder for people to enjoy the simple pleasures of walking in nature.
The Highway Authority is legally required to clear and maintain paths. If you find a path blocked by a fallen tree, deep mud, overgrown bushes, a broken bridge, or even a locked gate, here’s our advice on how to get it fixed.
Reporting a problem on a right of way
The Highway Authority (which is usually the county council or unitary authority) has a responsibility to clear and maintain all rights of way in its area. So when you come across a problem on a path, report it to get it fixed.
You can find details of the local Highway Authority on the local council website. Different councils may require you to report the problem in different ways, but all information on how to submit a report will be on their website. If the obstruction is dangerous, such as fallen tree leaning precariously, or a landslip at the coast, report as soon as possible and indicate that it is urgent.
Highway authorities regularly clear and maintain their paths, and your report will be investigated and added to their job list. Do return to the path to see whether it has been fixed. If nothing has happened in six weeks, then follow up to ensure the council is taking action.
Tell the local Ramblers group about the problem
Ramblers groups have dedicated volunteers who make sure paths are kept clear and open. They may already know about the issue and be able to update you on progress in fixing it. If the Highway Authority does not act, ask the local Ramblers group for help.
How to escalate a problem on a right of way
If you’ve reported an issue to the Highway Authority and followed it up with no sign of progress, then there are ways to escalate your report:
Ask for action to be taken by writing to the council committee chair or cabinet member who is responsible for rights of way. You can find their contact information on the local authority’s website.
Write to a councillor asking them to press for action. This could be either your councillor, or the one representing the ward where the path is.
Write to the local paper expressing concern over inaction. You could also write a press release and send it to all the local papers to reach more people.
Lodge a complaint with the local authority through their complaints procedure. This can be found on their website.
Lodge a complaint with the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman stating that the Highway Authority has failed to carry out its statutory duty.
If all efforts have been exhausted, and there is still no progress, then you have the option to issue legal notices and take action through the courts. This should only be a last resort once all other efforts have been exhausted.
If you feel this is required, then contact the local Ramblers group. They can advise on whether this approach is appropriate and support you if it is.
Help us to keep paths clear and walkable
The Ramblers is dedicated to removing barriers so everyone can enjoy walking in green spaces, and to preserving and improving Britain's well-loved paths, tracks, and trails.
Help us keep these paths open by becoming a member or talking to your local Ramblers group about becoming a volunteer. You can join a path maintenance team, or sign up as a footpath officer, and support our work to keep paths clear and maintained.