Using public rights of way

Public rights of way are paths and tracks over which all members of the public have a right of passage

Types of rights of way

There are four types of public right of way:

  • Footpath - for walking
  • Bridleway - for walking, horse riding and cycling
  • Restricted Byway - for walking, cycling, horse riding and horse drawn carriages (or other non-motorised vehicles)
  • Byway Open to All Traffic - for walking, cycling, horse riding, horse drawn carriages and motorised vehicles. Most do not have a surface suitable for ordinary motor traffic

It is a criminal offence to prevent the public exercising these rights.

Driving a motorised vehicle on a public right of way without lawful consent is also a criminal offence. Find out more about vehicles in the countryside.

Mobility vehicles, wheelchairs and pushchairs can be used on all rights of way. Some paths may not be suitable for this use if there are stiles or uneven surfaces.

If you stray from a right of way onto land with no other rights of public access, you are committing a trespass against the landowner. Visitors to the countryside should follow the Countryside Code.

Signs and notices

We have a duty to signpost all public rights of way that leave a road. This may be with a wooden fingerpost or a coloured disc ('waymark'). Urban paths may not be signed where it is clear that the public can use them.

Signs or notices that misinform or discourage public use should not be placed on public rights of way.

Sometimes we need to inform people about changes, or proposed changes to rights of way. In such cases we will erect legal notices. These notices should not be removed.


Use our interactive map to help you plan your route.

The definitive map is the legal record of public rights of way.

The Ordnance Survey produces a number of maps which show the rights of way network and long distance walks.

Download map data: Location of paths featured on Hampshire’s definitive map of public rights of way

Other paths

A permissive path can be used by the public with the landowner’s permission. This permission can be withdrawn at any time. These routes are not public rights of way.

We do not hold records of private rights of access or land ownership.