Policy paper

Rights of way circular (1/09)

This publication was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

This circular gives advice to local authorities on recording, managing and maintaining, protecting and changing public rights of way.



The information contained in this circular is applicable only within England.

This circular replaces previous advice and guidance in circulars: 1/08, 2/93, 3/93, 17/90, 18/90, 32/81, which are now no longer valid.

In many areas, rights of way help to boost tourism and contribute to rural economies. They can also provide a convenient means of travelling, particularly for short journeys, in both rural and urban areas. They are important in the daily lives of many people who use them for fresh air and exercise on bicycle, on foot, on horseback or in a horse-drawn vehicle, to walk the dog, to improve their fitness, or to visit local shops and other facilities. Local authorities should regard public rights of way as an integral part of the complex of recreational and transport facilities within their area.

This advice and guidance sets out Defra’s policy on public rights of way and its view of the law. It does not take the place of the legislation, but seeks to give an overview of it within a policy context.