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Public rights of way maintenance

A right of way is a path that anyone has the legal right to use on foot, and sometimes other modes of transport:

  • public footpaths can be used by walkers
  • public bridleways can be used by walkers, horse-riders and pedal cyclists

There are almost 3,000 miles of public rights of way in Dorset: 4,700 footpaths, 1,700 bridleways and 37 byways.

Maintenance of rights of way

Working closely with landowners and volunteers, Dorset County Council's Greenspace Management Teams investigate reports received from members of the public and user groups and carry out practical work across the county.

Signposting and waymarking

Dorset County Council has a duty to signpost public rights of way where they leave a metalled road. Rights of way are also signposted or waymarked particularly where the route is not obvious.

Stiles and gates

It is the landowner's responsibility to maintain stiles or gates on public rights of way on their land. Dorset County Council usually contributes a minimum of 25% of costs.

Obstruction

It is an offence to intentionally obstruct a public right of way.

Ploughing and cropping

Crossfield paths may be ploughed or cropped as long as the path is reinstated within 14 days. Headland paths should not be ploughed or cropped.

Overgrown vegetation

Landowners are responsible for cutting back hedges, trees or shrubs overhanging a public right of way. Surface vegetation or undergrowth on rights of way, such as nettles or brambles, are the responsibility of Dorset County Council.

Bulls

A bull can only be kept in a field crossed by a right of way if it is under 10 months old OR it is accompanied by cows or heifers.

Bridges

Dorset County Council is responsible for the maintenance and repair of foot and bridle bridges.

Surface

Dorset County Council is responsible for the maintenance of the surface of rights of way according to the status of the path; for example a footpath will be maintained up to footpath standard even if it may also be used by private vehicles.

To contact the Rangers who look after your area please see the following map; Greenspace Areas & Managers.

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