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Guide to Public Rights of Way

Walkers climbing a stileThere are over 1,200km of Public Rights of Way - Footpaths, Bridleways, Restricted Byways and Byways Open to All Traffic - criss-crossing the countryside, villages, towns and cities of South Gloucestershire. All these routes are forms of highway. A highway is a route over which the public have the right to pass and repass. The specific type of highway determines the rights that the public have over the route:

Public Footpath: You may walk on a footpath and you are also entitled to use it with a pram, pushchair or wheelchair although many paths, particularly rural ones, are not suitable for such use. You do not have the right to ride a bicycle or horse on a footpath without the landowners consent – you will be committing a trespass if you do. It is a criminal offence to drive a mechanically propelled vehicle along a footpath without lawful authority.

Public Bridleway: You may walk, ride or lead a horse, or ride a bicycle along a bridleway. Cyclists should give way to pedestrians and horseriders. It is a criminal offence to drive a mechanically propelled vehicle along a bridleway without lawful authority. There is also no right to drive a horse-drawn vehicle, e.g. a horse and carriage.

Restricted Byway: You can use a restricted byway in the horse-drawn carriage and in same ways that you can use a bridleway. Many restricted byways were previously known as Roads Used as a Public Path (RUPPs).

Byway Open to All Traffic: This is a highway that is used by the public mainly for walking, riding horses or cycling, but over which there is also a right to use any kind of wheeled vehicle - whether it is a horse-drawn vehicle or motor vehicle. Motor vehicles should comply with all driving regulations as for ordinary road traffic. They must be taxed, insured and roadworthy and the drivers must have an appropriate drivers licence.

Permissive Paths: You may also come across other routes where the landowner has allowed the public to use a route.