Last updated: 24/11/2010
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Once such a right has come into existence it continues
indefinitely and can only be brought to an end or amended by the
use of statutory legal procedures for altering a
Public Right of Way. Section 56 of the Wildlife and
Countryside Act 1981 makes it clear that the Definitive Map of
Public Rights of Way is conclusive evidence as to what it contains.
However, the Definitive Map is also without prejudice to any other
public rights of way that may exist (further information please see
Definitive Map and Statement pages). Lack
of use over a period of time does not mean that the rights have
When using Public Rights of Way, it is important to follow the
Countryside Code of Conduct.
You can download the Countryside Code leaflet from
The National Trust website.
Public Rights of Way can be divided into three types:
Public footpaths - rights exist for people
on foot only (Yellow waymark).
Public Bridleways - rights exist for use on
foot, horseback and pedal cycle. (Blue waymark).
Public Byways - open to all traffic (i.e.
rights exist for people on foot, horseback, pedal cycle and motor
vehicles...but don't expect a metalled surface! Cornwall Council
only has a duty to maintain it to a standard suitable for use on
foot and horseback only, not necessarily for vehicular use)(Red
Right to deviate from a Public Right of Way
You may only make a short deviation from the Right of Way in
order to get around an illegal obstruction erected by the
landholder. This right to deviate does not necessarily allow you to
enter land owned by another person. It is considered reasonable for
a walker to use a pair of pocket secateurs to cut back vegetation
which impedes progress along a path.
Where a route fails to physically exist as a result of natural
causes, for example, a path that has been eroded by a
river or the sea, the right of passage fails to exist and a user
does not have the right to deviate from the path. The right to
continue depends upon the dedication of a new path by the
landowner, by a Creation Order made by a highway authority or by a
permissive path being opened by the landowner.