Public rights of way
There are almost 3,000 miles of public rights of way in Dorset, made up of approximately 4,700 footpaths, 1,700 bridleways and 37 byways open to all traffic.
At last the sun is shining, the ground is beginning to dry out and the vegetation is growing which means that soon it will be all hands to the pump to clear Dorset's extensive network of paths. If there are well used paths in your area that are not routinely cleared, your parish council may be eligible for a small grant to do the work themselves either with the help of local volunteers or using a local contractor.
Winter flood damage
During the year we will start to tackle winter flood damage; the task is greater than the budget available but we will do the best we can with the resources available. The ground needs to firm up a bit before the heavy machinery needed to manoeuvre these large bridges into place can be deployed so fingers crossed for an old fashioned, English spring and summer.
If you want to get out and about and involved there is an opportunity to learn willow weaving on Thursday 16, Friday 17 and Saturday 18 May between 10am and 4pm at Happy Island stone bridge, Bridport (SY 476 935).
Willow stakes and rods will be used to form a new living river bank, protecting the footpath for the future and providing habitats for the local wildlife such as water vole, brook lamprey and kingfisher.
Please bring wellies and waders and a packed lunch and we will supply tools and materials.
For more information contact: Jill Exton 01305 221558 email@example.com
Categories of public rights of way
Footpath - this is a path for walkers and is signed with a yellow arrow and a walking person.
Bridleway - this path is for walkers, horse riders and cyclists and is indicated by a blue arrow and a horse and rider.
Restricted Byway - walkers, horse riders, cyclists and non-motorised vehicles can use this category which is shown by a purple arrow and the sign 'restricted byway'.
Byway open to all traffic (BOAT) - walkers, horse riders, cyclists and vehicles can use this category which is shown by a red arrow and the sign 'byway'.
Roads used as Public Path (RUPP) - there are no recorded Roads used as Public Paths (RUPPS) in Dorset.
A permissive path is where a landowner has given special permission for the public to walk across his/her land. This path is signed with a green arrow 'permissive path'. The county council does not maintain these paths and they are not recorded on the definitive map. The landowner may withdraw his/her permission at any time.
Interactive Map of public rights of way
Dorset Explorer (opens in a new window) is our interactive map which shows information about public rights of way and other information. During February 2001 the UK Farming industry was threatened by an outbreak of Foot and Mouth. Dorset Explorer is a Web based mapping system that was developed by the GIS (Geographical Information Systems) team to manage the Risk Assessed closure and re-opening of the RoW (Rights of Way) network. This mapping system is still up and running and provides information on the RoW network. But now we have a new version that can be used for a much wider range of geospatial solutions including roadworks, countryside, emergency planning and local plans.
Report public rights of way problems
Report a problem on a public right of way online e.g. a locked gate, an overgrown path, a broken stile etc. Reported problems will be prioritised according to a number of factors including our statutory duties, public safety and popularity of the route.
For more information about prioritisation of rights of way problems please read the Prioritisation of Rights of Way Problems (pdf, 11kb) (opens in a new window) .
Traffic Regulation Orders (TROs), are legal orders applied by local authorities to restrict or exclude the use of rights of way to certain traffic. They can be temporary or permanent, and can be applied for various purposes. For information about temporarily closed paths please see Dorset Explorer (opens in a new window) .
To view closed paths you need to turn on the Closed Rights of Way layer in the Countryside folder under 'layer control'. Paths closed along their entire length are shown by a solid black line, partially closed paths are shown by a black dashed line.
Public rights of way - frequently asked questions
If you have a question about rights of way that is not answered on these pages, please contact the rights of way team.
What is the definitive map and statement?
Rights of Way Improvement Plan
The Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW) places a new duty upon highway authorities to prepare and publish Rights of Way Improvement Plans (ROWIPs).
Maintenance of public rights of way in Dorset
Under the Highways Act 1980, the Rights of Way Team is responsible for maintaining Dorset's network of public rights of way.
Where can I walk, ride or cycle in Dorset? - a guide to maps
Maps showing public rights of way are available online, on Ordnance Survey Maps and on the Definitive Map.
Rights of Way Liaison Officers
Each parish council in Dorset can benefit from having an active Parish Rights of Way Liaison Officer - volunteers who are nominated/appointed by parish councils.
- Contact Rights of Way Team