Public Rights of Way

Like a public road, a public right of way is a highway which anybody may use at any time. Public rights of way are recorded on a Definitive Map and Statement (a legal record of public rights of way).  Each route is classified according to what people can do on them. There are four categories of public rights of way:
Public footpath
  • For walkers only.
  • You are allowed to take a pram, pushchair or wheelchair along any public footpath - but be aware that many routes may not be physically suitable for them.
  • Public footpaths are often waymarked with yellow arrows.
  • For walkers, horseriders and pedal cyclists. 
  • Cyclists must give way to walkers and horseriders.
  • Bridleways are often waymarked with blue arrows.
Byways open to all traffic (BOAT)
  • As the name suggests, these routes - often simply called byways - are for walkers, horseriders, cyclists and vehicles - including horse-drawn carriages, motorcycles and other motor vehicles.
  • BOATs are often waymarked with red arrows.
Restricted byways
  • For walkers, horseriders, cyclists and horse drawn vehicles only.
  • Restricted byways are often waymarked with purple arrows.
Additional points
  • A permissive route is not a public right of way. You are allowed to use it with the permission of the landowner.
  • There is a difference between public and private rights. Stoke-on-Trent City Council does not hold records of private rights of access - you should seek your own legal advice on such matters.
  • When using public rights of way you should be aware that there may also be an additional landowner or other private rights of access with vehicles.
  • Although footpaths, bridleways and restricted byways exclude motor vehicles, this is without prejudice to any higher public rights that may exist.
  • If you have any queries on how to amend the Definitive Map and Statement, or any other related subject please contact us using the contact details on the Highway Licences home page.

Click here to access the  Public Rights of Way Register

can view these documents with Adobe Acrobat Reader. You can download a free copy of Adobe Acrobat Reader by clicking here.


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