Farmers must not obstruct a cross-field footpath or bridleway with growing crops. The line of the path must be clearly marked at all times. Crops over a height of 4 to 6 inches will normally be considered an obstruction. The farmer is required to ensure that a minimum1 metre wide strip is cleared on cross-field footpaths and 2 metres wide on a cross-field bridleway. With crops like maize or rape a wider clearance may be needed to prevent tall crops collapsing over the path later in the season.
Landowners are responsible for removing fallen trees from paths. The Council will contact landowners to ensure this happens and may remove them itself if they pose an immediate risk to the public.
Landowners have a duty to cut back adjacent vegetation so that it does not obstruct the path or make it difficult to use it. The Council will take action where necessary to ensure that this duty is met. The Council is responsible for cutting back vegetation that grows up from the surface of the path (except for most agricultural crops). It has various contracts to ensure that many sections are cut back routinely before problems occur. Other routes will be dealt with as and when required.
Locked gate or new fence, wall, building etc.
Where paths are illegally blocked, the Council will take enforcement action and prosecutions where necessary to ensure that the public's rights are protected.
Path Ploughed Up
Farmers are allowed to plough out the surface of a cross-field footpath or bridleway in order to plant crops only if it would not be reasonably convenient not to do so. If they do plough a path up they must ensure that the line of the path is clearly marked across the field and a reasonably convenient surface is provided for users within 14 days of first ploughing. If they need to disturb the surface for any subsequent operation, they must re-instate the surface within 24 hours.
Stiles and Gates
Stiles and gates are a traditional part of the landscape. They can be attractive and add interest in their own right to a walk or a ride. Whilst their purpose is generally to control farm animals from straying, they can be inconvenient to users or even prevent people with mobility difficulties from using a path altogether. For these reasons their use is controlled by law.
To report potholes or a poor surface condition on a public right of way please contact us using the details at the top of the page.
Disclaimer: This is not a comprehensive or conclusive statement of the law nor of Bath & North East Somerset's policy and all problems are dealt with on an individual basis. If you have any specific queries on Rights of Way issues please contact us via the contact details given.