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What is the Definitive Map?

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

If a right of way is shown on the definitive map and statement, that is conclusive evidence in law that there is a public right of way as shown and that it has at least the status indicated, but without prejudice as to any question of additional public rights which may exist along it.

The current definitive map was sealed and 1989 and is not always precise, even though it is the prime legal document. This is because of the small scale, thick lines and distortions in the printing process. It is at a scale of 1:25,000 (two and a half inches to a mile) and an extract is shown below:


Each path is numbered according to the parish in which it is situated. The 'working copy' of the definitive map will be altered if the route of a path is changed by a legal order or if new paths are claimed, created or extinguished.

Viewing the definitive map

The definitive map cannot be purchased.

By appointment only

You can view the definitive map at the Regulation Team office at County Hall, Dorchester, during office hours, by appointment only. Please contact the Regulation Team at least two working days before.

Please note that Dorset County Council is not responsible for public rights of way in Bournemouth or Poole. If you have a query relating to a public right of way in this area please contact the relevant borough council.

View the map online

The online version can be used for rough guidance, but do not rely on it without checking with us first. It is not the legal document and is often incorrect in small details. View the interactive rights of way map - Dorset Explorer.



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