Public rights of way

In England and Wales we have over 140,000 miles of public rights of way, providing the ability to walk recreationally and to get from one place to another on foot, sometimes by using paths which have been walked for thousands of years. These public rights of way should be maintained by your local Highway Authority and are recorded on official maps (called definitive maps) in England and Wales.

Public rights of way are not just footpaths - there are bridleways and byways which the public has a right to use. Unfortunately not all public rights of way are recorded on definitive maps or shown on the Ordnance Survey, and neither are other paths which are open by permission or under other arrangements.

The Ramblers work to protect public rights of way includes:

  • Ensuring they are recorded properly, adding new paths to the definitive map and the network
  • Reporting problems like obstructions to highway authorities, and follow reports up to make sure these problems are resolved
  • Saving paths from unsuitable diversions which will spoil a walk or make it unsafe
  • Undertaking improvements to paths ourselves - our path work teams all over the country help maintain our paths on behalf of the highway authorities and landowners and for the walking public.

We work in partnership with volunteers, sometimes involving legal action, to make sure that the interests of walkers using their public rights of way are secured.