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Isle of Anglesey County Council


What are public rights of way?


Confused about the different types of public footpaths, bridleways and byways? We provide clear guidance to help you enjoy Anglesey.

There are just over 1081 km of public rights of way on Anglesey -  1069 km of footpaths and around 12 km of bridleways, ‘restricted byways’ and ‘byways open to all traffic’. The Council works closely with both users and landowners, to keep the network in good shape for all to enjoy.

Like a public road, a public right of way is a highway which anybody may use at any time. Rights of way are classified according to the nature of the public’s rights along them. There are four categories of public right of way:

For walkers only. You are allowed to take a pram, pushchair or wheelchair along any public footpath - but be aware that many paths, particularly in the countryside, may not be physically suitable for them.

Public footpaths are often way-marked with yellow arrows.

For walkers, horse riders and cyclists. Cyclists must give way to walkers and horse-riders.

Bridleways are often way-marked with blue arrows.

'Restricted byways’ are available for walkers, horse riders, cyclists and horse-drawn vehicles only. This is a new category of public right of way introduced by the CROW Act 2000. All routes which, immediately prior to the commencement of the relevant section of the CROW Act in 2006, were recorded as ‘roads used as public paths (or ‘RUPPs’) were changed to ‘restricted byways’.

Restricted byways’ are sometimes way-marked with purple arrows.

As the name suggests, these routes - often simply called byways - are for walkers, horse riders, cyclists and vehicles - including horse-drawn carriages, motorcycles and other motor vehicles.

BOATs are sometimes waymarked with red arrows.

Be careful to distinguish between public rights of way and private rights of way. The Council does not hold records of private rights of access, way-leaves or easements. Different rules apply - you should seek your own legal advice on such matters.

You are likely to come across a number of other terms being used to describe routes that you want to follow. If you want to learn more follow the link below.

Other terms for routes

You may come across a number of other terms to describe routes.

Amongst those in common use are:

These are not rights of way but routes along which the landowner permits people to walk or ride. The permission may extend just to certain types of user, e.g. walkers. The permission (which may be a written agreement or just verbal) may be withdrawn by the landowner.

Sometimes the permission may be for the riding of cycles or of horses on a route which is a public footpath. In this case, walkers have a right to use the path, whilst riders use the same route only with permission. The route is a public right of way for walkers, but a concessionary or permissive path for riders.

An increasing number of routes are being provided for cyclists. Some are brand new, whilst others follow existing routes. A cycle lane is a part of a carriageway set apart for the use of cyclists. It may be either advisory (dashed white line) or mandatory (a solid white line). A cycle track or path is a route physically separate from a road and which has been constructed for cyclists, although they can normally be used by walkers too.

The National Cycle Network (being developed by Sustrans in partnership with local authorities and others) involves sections of cycle path and cycle lane, as well as other routes.

A footway is a path set out beside a carriageway for pedestrians. It is not a public right of way, but a part of the main highway.

The footway may not be used by either cyclists or horse riders unless a part of it has been specially set out for their use - in which case, it will be signed and may be surfaced with a different coloured tarmac. Cyclists and horse riders can of course cross a footway to reach a route which leads off the road.

This term has no legal meaning but is often used to describe certain routes which have no sealed surface. A green lane may also be a right of way, or it might be entirely private.

Formerly known as “Long Distance Paths”, there are 15 such routes promoted for walkers or riders by the Countryside Council for Wales and Natural England e.g. the Pembrokshire Coast Path. There are none in Anglesey.

Other route with public access’ is the description for a new symbol on Ordnance Survey maps, indicating routes which carry public rights of some sort, but which are not recorded either as public rights of way nor coloured as most public roads are, in red, brown, orange or yellow.

They are shown on the local authority’s ‘list of streets’ as being highways maintainable at public expense and will normally (but not necessarily) be unsealed public carriage roads. ORPAs typically have the character of a green lane.

These are middle distance routes which are promoted in some way for the public’s enjoyment. They typically consist of a mix of different types of right of way, minor roads and permissive paths, and may be distinctively way-marked.

The Anglesey Coastal Path is a recreational route promoted by Isle of Anglesey County Council  for walkers.

Some of the most minor public roads don’t have a sealed surface i.e. they are not covered in tarmac or concrete but have an earth or gravel surface or else they may be cobbled. In country areas they may be referred to as ‘green lanes’ and will be shown as ‘ORPAs’ on Ordnance Survey maps.

These routes are so called because they are the minor roads shown, but not coloured in, on Ordnance Survey maps. They are often unsurfaced. They may be unclassified county roads, or carry other (unrecorded) public rights of access, or else they might be private.

The Ordnance Survey now show which of these routes are known to carry public rights of some sort - see ORPAs.