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Maintenance of public rights of way in Dorset

Installing gate and signpost at Clifton Maybank
Rights of Way Team Kubota clearing a footpath
Path through a field of maize

Dorset Countryside is responsible for maintaining Dorset's network of public rights of way.

Maintenance of rights of way

Working closely with landowners and volunteers, Dorset Countryside Rangers 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 it 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 on rights of way i.e. undergrowth such as nettles and brambles, is 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 e.g. a footpath will be maintained up to footpath standard even if it carries private vehicular rights.

Report a problem

If you find a problem on a right of way please report it using our Public rights of way - report a problem (opens in a new window) . The report will be prioritised and appropriate action will be taken.

Contact Dorset Countryside about rights of way

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