Q: Can I stop on a right of way?

A: You may stop to rest, admire the view, make a sketch, take a photograph, have a picnic or do other things incidental to your journey but you must not obstruct other people when you do so.

Q: Do I have a right to take a wheelchair or pushchair on a public right of way?

A: You may take a wheelchair or a pushchair along any public right of way, although it may not be practical to do so.

Q: Can I cycle on a footpath?

A: Cyclists may use bridleways, byways open to all traffic and restricted byways. They must give way to walkers and horse riders on bridleways. There is no right to cycle along public footpaths. It is not an offence to ride on a footpath, but it may be a trespass against the landowner. However, it is an offence to ride on a pavement beside a carriageway and also where a traffic regulation order or a bylaw is in place to prohibit cycling. You may take a wheelchair or pushchair along any public right of way although it may not be practical to do so.

Q: Can I ride a horse on a footpath?

A: This is not an offence unless horse riding is prohibited by a traffic regulation order or a bylaw but it may be a trespass against the owner of the land. It is possible that "higher rights" may exist that have not yet been recorded, and if so it would not constitute trespass.

Q: Is it legal to shoot across a right of way?

A: It is not a specific offence to shoot across a public right of way but to do so could amount to a common law nuisance, wilful obstruction of the highway, a breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act of 1974 or intimidation. It is an offence for anyone except the landowner or occupier (or someone with their permission) to carry and discharge a loaded firearm or air gun in a public place, including any public right of way. Organised shoots should adhere to the BASC Code of Good Practice.

Q: Are cars or motorcycles allowed to use public rights of way?

A: Vehicles may use byways open to all traffic (unless there is a Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) in place). They may not use footpaths, bridleways or restricted byways - this is a criminal offence if done without lawful authority, or if the motorbike/car is ridden/driven inconsiderately or causes damage. The legislation is enforceable by the Police as for other road traffic offences. Races or speed trials on paths are forbidden. Permission for other types of trials on paths may be sought from the local authority, if the landowner agrees.

Q: In the countryside, where can I walk, ride my horse, ride my bike, drive my horse-drawn carriage, drive my 4X4 or ride my motorbike?

  • Walk; on all rights of way (footpaths, bridleways, restricted byways, byways open to all traffic), some cycle tracks, Open Access Land, permissive paths and various open spaces such as village greens, parks, some nature reserves, woodlands and National Trust and Forestry Commission land is also open to walkers, and these are often shown on Ordnance Survey maps.
  • Ride my horse; on bridleways, restricted byways and byways open to all traffic, permissive bridleways and toll bridleways.
  • Ride my bike; on bridleways, cycle tracks, restricted byways, byways open to all traffic and on permissive cycle paths.
  • Drive my horse-drawn carriage; on restricted byways and byways open to all traffic.
  • Drive my 4x4 or ride my motorbike; on byways open to all traffic. Remember any that traffic legislation that applies to using a vehicle on a public road equally applies to the use of vehicles on public rights of way.

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