Advice for farmers and landowners

General advice

  • Make sure you know where the public rights of way are across your land and have respect for them. (Ensure a check is carried out when purchasing new land)
  • Keep rights of way clear of obstructions.
  • Ensure cross-field routes are convenient, apparent and free from obstruction to the minimum width. 
  • Ensure field edge routes are convenient, apparent and free from obstruction to the minimum width.
  • Ensure stiles and gates are authorised by the council, maintained in a safe condition and easy to use, and remove any unnecessary structure.
  • Do not place barbed wire across rights of way or attach to structures. If unavoidable, place the wire stock side and place plain wire user side to avoid injury
  • Do not place new fences, ditches, stiles or gates across rights of way, or install new bridges or culverts along rights of way, without permission of the council.
  • Do not allow any prohibited bull in a field through which a right of way passes.
  • Do not erect misleading signs likely to deter use of rights of way.
  • Do not remove or alter the direction of rights of way signs and waymarks.
  • Ensure that rights of way are restored following permitted drainage schemes.

Overhanging trees and side vegetation

  • Landowners and managers are responsible for the maintenance of side vegetation from their land, such as hedges and trees, on or by the side of a public right of way, to ensure that it does not encroach onto the public path.
  • When a tree or branch has come down on a public right of way it is the landowner/managers responsibility to clear the debris. 
  • If works need to be undertaken on a tree, a temporary path closure needs to be in place; check to ensure the trees concerned are not subject to a tree preservation order (TPO). 
  • Any branches overhanging a right of way should not obstruct users, and have a minimum height clearance of 3.75 metres on bridleways. 

Stiles and gates

  • The Highways Act 1980 places the responsibility of maintenance of existing structures on public rights of way with the landowner. They must ensure that structures are maintained in a safe condition so as not to inconvenience or create a hazard to path users.
  • We are keen to work with landowners to increase access opportunities for all and improve access where possible on public rights of way.
  • One way of achieving this is by minimising and reviewing the necessity of structures on rights of way through applying a policy of least restrictive access when we consider applications for, or the replacement of, structures.
  • Gaps are the first preference in place of a structure.  We therefore encourage removal of structures that are no longer necessary and for stiles to be replaced with more user-friendly gates, such as kissing gates or self-closing gates.
  • Gates and stiles must conform to British Standards Institute (BS5709).

Related documents

New structures

If you wish to introduce a new structure on a public footpath or bridleway, you will require permission from the Council. 

Applications for a new structure can be made under the following legislation:

  • Section 147 – Highways Act 1980: in order to secure efficient use of the land for agriculture by preventing the ingress and egress of animals.
  • Section 66 – Highways Act 1980: for the purpose of safeguarding persons using the highway.
  • There are various designs of stile and gate for footpaths and bridleways and to suit different boundary types.
  • (Please view attached BS examples of typical structures)
  • Contact the Public Rights of Way Officer to discuss


See below document.

Related documents

Cattle and public access

See the below document for HSE guidance on cattle and public access.

Related documents

Role of the council

The council:

  • Assert and protect the rights of the public to use and enjoy rights of way.
  • Maintain the surfaces of rights of way suitable for its indented use.(that are recorded as maintainable at public expense)
  • Maintain the natural vegetation from the surface.
  • Maintain the natural vegetation from the sides when we are landowners.
  • Assist farmers and landowners with the maintenance of approved stiles and gates.
  • Signpost footpaths, bridleways and byways where they leave a metalled road
  • Maintain bridges over natural water courses crossed by rights of way
  • Receive complaints and take appropriate action