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New website

Welcome to the new Dorsetforyou. We're moving information over from our old site, so for a short time you may see information from both websites. If you spot anything that isn't working as it should please let us know. You can leave feedback at the bottom of every page. Thank you for your patience.

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Public rights of way

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

Report a problem on a public right of way

You'll need to provide a location and include as much detail as possible. You can retrieve information on an existing problem you've reported by entering the code that starts with MNT e.g. 'MNT12345'.

You will need to complete a separate form for each problem / right of way. 

Your report will be sent directly to the rights of way department where it will be prioritised and actioned accordingly. For emergencies, where there is a real and immediate risk of danger or where a crime has been committed, please contact the police.

Due to the volume of public rights of way reports we receive, it is not possible to respond to every report. We will not contact you unless we need more information, or you specifically request that we contact you.

Where to walk, ride or cycle in Dorset

Rights of way map

Plan your route using the Dorset Explorer online mapping system that shows Dorset's public rights of way.

Ordnance Survey Maps

For recreational and navigational purposes we recommend 'OS Explorer' Ordnance Survey Maps (at a scale of 1:25,000). These maps can be purchased from Tourist Information Centres, main book sellers and stationers. It is advisable to buy an OS Explorer map if you are planning to do any walking, cycling or riding in Dorset. OS Explorer maps show public rights of way and other public access routes and areas.

The maps covering Dorset are:

  • explorer 116 Lyme Regis & Bridport
  • explorer 117 Cerne Abbas & Bere Regis
  • explorer 118 Shaftesbury
  • explorer 129 Yeovil & Sherborne
  • explorer OL15 Purbeck & South Dorset
  • explorer OL22 New Forest

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.

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