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Public rights of way

About public rights of way

Our rights of way network hosts the historic Waggonways and covers a wide variety of landscapes including:

  • hills and valleys
  • rural and urban
  • short paths and circular walks

Some paths may be surfaced and many are tracks across countryside owned by farmers and landowners.

Public footpaths are not to be confused with highway footways, which are pavements to the side of the road.

Rights of way are highways over which the public have the right to pass and re-pass and are protected by law. Unless they are stopped up by legal means, they remain 'highways' even if they are not recognisable on the ground.

They are recorded on the definitive map and described below.

Public footpaths

The public has a right of way on foot. Footpaths will cross fields containing livestock or crops, they may be muddy, and generally 'rural' in feel.


the public has a right of way on foot, pedal cycle, horseback and leading a horse. Those cycling must give way to other users. These routes often cross farmland and therefore may include gates.

Restricted byways

The public has a right of way on foot, pedal cycle, horseback or leading a horse, or with a horse drawn vehicle. Restricted byways do not carry public rights for motor vehicles. (All roads used as public paths were reclassified as restricted byways under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000).

Byways open to all traffic (BOATs)

These routes, often simply called byways, are for those on foot, pedal cycle, and horseback, leading a horse, horse-drawn carriages, motor vehicles and motorcycles.

Permissive paths

These are not rights of way, but routes along which the landowner permits people to walk or ride. The permission may extend just to certain types of user, for example walkers. The permission (which may be a written agreement or just verbal) may be withdrawn by the landowner at any time. Sometimes a landowner may give permission for individuals to use a public footpath on horseback. This is lawful as long as the surface of the footpath is not damaged in any way.

Frequently asked questions

Related documents

Report a problem or contact us

If you have any queries or wish to report a problem on a public right of way please contact:

Graeme Clark (MIPROW) 
Public Rights of Way, Definitive Map and Cycle Network Officer
North Tyneside Council
The Silverlink North
Cobalt Business Park
North Tyneside
NE27 0BY
Telephone:  (0191) 643 6086    

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