Countryside access

Public rights of way

What is a public right of way?

It is a legal right to pass over land, even if the land is privately owned. On a public footpath, this means a right of way on foot only. On a public bridleway, there is also a right of way on horseback and by bicycle. On a byway open to all traffic (BOAT), there is also a right to drive a vehicle on the public right of way.

Most public rights of way are recorded on the definitive map and statement. The maps covering Pendle are the Ordnance Survey Explorer OL21 South Pennines (1:25,000) and the Landranger 103 Blackburn and Burnley (1:50,000) maps (available from all good bookshops).

Alternatively, you can look at the definitive map at Fleet Street Depot, Fleet Street, Nelson, BB9 7YQ. Just contact us to make an appointment in advance.

Our responsibilities

  • Maintaining the surfaces of public rights of way, plus waymarking
  • Protecting people's rights to use public rights of way, including removing obstructions
  • Promoting access to the countryside
  • Making legal orders to create, divert or extinguish public rights of way

We arrange for stiles to be maintained, footpath surfaces to be cleared of vegetation, and waymarking to be provided. We have a programme of improvements and promote particular walks. We liaise with the County Council and with user groups like the Ramblers.

We deal with requests to divert existing rights of way, for instance when land is being developed.

We receive a number of applications each year to divert or extinguish public rights of way. We provide a service to individual landowners to handle diversion applications.

We promote access to the countryside and carry out projects to create new access or improve access to specific groups for whom access to the countryside is limited (for example the disabled, horse riders, cyclists and parents with pushchairs).

We only maintain public rights of way that are shown on the definitive map and statement.