Guide to cross compliance in England: 2016

GAEC 7b: Public Rights of Way

Public rights of way (public footpaths, bridleways, restricted byways and byways open to all traffic) must be kept open and accessible because they are important landscape features.

What you must do

You must:

  • not wilfully obstruct public rights of way without lawful authority or excuse
  • not disturb the surface of public rights of way without lawful authority or excuse, with the exception of ploughing the surface of a footpath or bridleway when it is not reasonably convenient to avoid doing so
  • Where you have disturbed the surface of a cross field path or bridleway, you must:
    • make good the surface of cross field footpaths and bridleways to not less than the minimum width within 14 days of it first being disturbed if you are sowing a crop, or within 24 hours in all other circumstances. Minimum widths are 1 metre for footpaths and 2 metres for bridleways
    • indicate the route of a reinstated cross-field footpath or bridleway so that it’s visible on the ground and is at least the minimum width of the recorded route
  • maintain stiles, gates and similar structures across a footpath or bridleway in a condition that makes them safe and reasonably easy to use

These rules apply to visible public rights of way only. This includes any rights of way which would be visible if it wasn’t for breaches of the rules.

More information

There is more information online about Public rights of way: landowner responsibilities.


You should contact your local authority.
Rural Payments Agency: 03000 200 301