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Advice for farmers and landowners


This page provides information to landowners and occupiers relating to public access.

Landowner on a public right of way
virus

Public Rights of Way remain open, but please be considerate when using them and see our Coronavirus Public Rights of Way guidance.

A guide to public rights of way

We have produced a leaflet entitled 'Public Rights of Way - A Guide for Landowners and Occupiers'. You can contact us for a free paper copy.

Icon for pdf Public Rights of Way - A Guide for Landowners and Occupiers (PDF, 599.6kb)

As a farmers or landowner, you need to:

  • know where public rights of way cross your land, as shown on the online Definitive Map
  • ensure that any public rights of way are not obstructed.
  • cut back overhanging and encroaching vegetation that affects public rights of way - see Icon for pdf Overhanging hedges, trees and shrubs (PDF, 223.1kb)
  • remember that it is illegal to cultivate or disturb any field edge footpath or bridleway
  • provide and maintain stiles and gates on paths across your land in a safe and convenient condition for public use. A grant of 25% of reasonable costs incurred maintaining stiles and gates is available. Works carried out on Teesdale and Weardale Way paths attract a 50% grant. See  Icon for pdf 25% grant form for stiles and gates on Public Rights of Way (PDF, 148.0kb) .
  • ensure that footpaths and bridleways across fields are reinstated and marked on the ground to the correct width after ploughing or other authorised works
  • ensure that paths across fields are kept free from crops - a range of minimum widths are prescribed by law depending on the path's status and location where no other evidence exists as to width
  • not cultivate or disturb byways, roads used as public paths and county roads under any circumstances

Stiles and gates on public rights of way

Farmers and landowners also need to:

Cattle in fields with public access

Particularly relevant since the introduction of open access land in England and Wales, guidance for keeping cattle in fields with public access has been produced: Icon for pdf Health and Safety Executive - Cattle and public access in England and Wales (PDF, 40.9kb)  

Open access

Landowners wishing to know more about their rights and responsibilities with respect to open access, can obtain further information from the Natural England: open access land website.

Deposits of Statements, Maps and Declarations by landowners

Section 31 (6) of the Highway Act 1980 - Deposit of Statement, Maps and Declaration allows for landowners to acknowledge the existence of certain public rights of way across their land and to prevent new public rights of way being created by 'presumed dedication'.

Deposits of Statements, Maps and Declarations by landowners

Contact us
Access and Rights of Way
03000 265 342
Our address is:
  • Neighbourhoods & Climate Change
  • Durham County Hall
  • Durham
  • County Durham
  • United Kingdom
  • DH1 5UQ