ROW in Hertfordshire

These pages include information on the following topics:

(To report footpath problems in Hertfordshire use the contact details on our Problem Reporting page.)


County Council Rights of Way Service

The laws relating to rights of way are significantly different from the laws affecting other forms of highway so, in common with many other Highways Authorities, Hertfordshire County Council manages its rights of way responsibilities in a specialist department.   The County’s Rights of Way Service consists of two teams.

The Definitive Map Team processes all requests for changes to the Definitive Map and Statement for the whole of Hertfordshire. It also maintains the register of commons & greens.

The Countryside Access Team deals with maintenance, enforcement and improvements as well as open access land and recreational routes.  It is responsible for the state of all the rights of way in the county with the exception of those in Dacorum and Broxbourne which are managed by those authorities under agency agreements with the County Council.  The Council has no direct labour for the repair and maintenance of any routes and relies on either commercial contractors or volunteers to undertake the necessary work.

The County Council provides comprehensive information on its website. This includes:

  • Details of the responsibilities of the members of its teams
  • A web version of the Definitive Map and Statement
  • Guidance on requesting changes to the Definitive Map and Statement
  • Lists of outstanding claims for changes to the Definitive Map
  • Lists of Section 31 deposits by landowners


Hertfordshire Definitive Map and Statement

The County Council updates the Definitive Map and Statement every five years, with the latest edition published in 2015. There are paper copies available for inspection at County Hall (but no longer in libraries). There is an on-line version on the Herts Direct website. This map is updated every month. You can zoom in to find individual footpath details.

You can also access the DM via your smartphone, making it easy to follow your location as you go. On your phone, Google, select ‘Rights of way Google map’, then ‘View map’. It takes you to Google Maps with rights of way visible. It should stay there while you are out and about without needing to access the internet.

Footpath secretaries can have a printed copy of the DM for their patch. It is divided into sections - look at this map key to see which map numbers cover your parishes. The Recent RoW Changes page includes lists of modifications to the map since the 2015 edition was published.

There is also a web version of the Gazetteer of Roads Maintainable at Public Expense also known as the List of Streets.

There is no national system for numbering rights of way and different local authorities use different systems. In Hertfordshire they are numbered on a parish basis, together with a code to show the nature of the rights.

  • Public footpaths (FP) are normally open only to walkers
  • Public bridleways (BR) are normally open only to walkers, horse-riders and pedal cyclists
  • Restricted byways (RB) are open to walkers, horse-riders, and drivers/riders of non-mechanically propelled vehicles (such as horse-drawn carriages and pedal cycles)
  • Byways Open to All Traffic (BOAT) are open to all classes of traffic including motor vehicles, though they may not be maintained to the same standard as ordinary roads.

For example Essendon BR 6 is a bridleway in Essendon parish and Ridge FP 23 is a footpath in Ridge parish.


Rights of Way Improvement Plan

The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 requires every Highways Authority to prepare a Rights of Way Improvement Plan (ROWIP). Herts County Council (HCC), the Highways Authority for the whole of Hertfordshire, is at present consulting on the third edition of its plan.  It consists of a high level policy document covering the years 2017/18 to 2027/28 plus a database of proposals for improvements.  Once finalised the policy document will stand for ten years but the database with its associated maps is a living document which is updated as new proposals are identified. 

The policy document and the list of suggestions together with maps covering all the districts and boroughs in the county are now available on the Herts Direct website.

ROWIPs provide one of the more promising ways of improving the footpath network, particularly in areas where there are likely to be major housing developments. The present consultation by HCC is an opportunity for everyone to make suggestions for improvements. The council is now largely dependent on the public to identify new proposals for improvements, so have your say now.

In Stile June 17, Phil Escritt described how St Albans Footpath Society got involved with their ROWIP.


The Hertfordshire Countryside Management Service

The Hertfordshire Countryside Management Service (CMS) is funded by both the County Council and several of the District Councils.  Its staff have specialist knowledge and expertise in the planning and implementation of schemes for the conservation of the countryside and for improvements to rights of way and other recreational routes. 

It coordinates the Hertfordshire Health Walks scheme with walking programmes in at least seven districts.   It assists in the development and promotion of a large number of way marked routes across the county.                                                      

It sponsors and supports a number of volunteer groups who play a vital role in the conservation and maintenance of green spaces and public footpaths.  These include Footpath Friends, Parish Path Partnerships, Friends of Greenspaces and Wood Wardens around the county.

Many of these groups rely on the insurance cover provided by the CMS umbrella and would cease to function if this cover were not available.

Further details are on the CMS website.


Hertfordshire Local Access Forum

The Local Access Forum (LAF) advises the local authority about making improvements to public access for outdoor recreation and sustainable travel. It sets local priorities and responds to consultations and draft policy documents, considering land use and conservation. Its function was described in Stile December 2019. Ramblers members attend the Herts LAF – see more details on their website.