Public rights of way - Overview

You have the right to access some land for walking or certain other leisure activities.

You can walk on all public rights of way. Some public rights of way are also open to horse riders, cyclists or motorists.

We work with farmers, landowners and local people to make sure that public footpaths, bridleways and byways are clear and properly maintained, so that everyone can enjoy using them.

On rights of way you can:

  • take a pram, pushchair or wheelchair, where possible
  • take a dog as long as on a lead or under close control
  • admire the view, stop for a rest
  • take a short alternative route to get round an obstruction but report it to the Council

It is an offence to use any right of way in a reckless or careless manner, or without consideration of other users.

Report a problem on a public right of way

If you see a problem with one of the rights of way, you can report it to us. You can report problems such as: 

  • overgrown plants or weed
  • footpath or bridleway needing repair
  • obstructions on the rights of way such as vehicles, or dead animals
  • damaged bridge 
  • broken gates
  • dangerous animals 

To report a problem on a public right of way, please use the form below, it should take no more than 3 to 4 minutes.

By submitting the form, you agree that you have read and accepted how we process your personal data.

Use the button to report as a guest.

Report a problem on a public right of way

Alternatively, login to / register for a Council Services account to report a problem on a public right of way. 

Leisure and walking

If you are a leisure walker, you can buy Explorer Maps through the Ordnance Survey.

Get involved with the Bedford Local Access Forum and help increase enjoyment of the local countryside as well as safeguarding its future. 

Rights of way online map

View the Rights of Way Online Mapping system 

The Public Rights of Way information displayed on this map does not constitute a legal record. You can get a legal record through the Definitive Map and Statement.

Rights of way rules

Here are some other rules you must follow:

Public footpaths

You cannot ride a bicycle or a horse on a public footpath. Action could be taken by the landowner for trespass or nuisance by the user.

Public bridleways

Public bridleways are for walkers, horse riders and pedal cyclists. Pedal cyclists should give way to walkers and horse riders.

It is against the law (Section 34 of the Road Traffic Act 1988) to drive any motorised vehicle on a public footpath or bridleway without 'lawful authority'. 'Lawful authority' includes the right of the local authority to take vehicles along a right of way to maintain it or the permission of the landowner of the land over which the right of way crosses. 

Byways open to all traffic

This is for walkers, horse riders, pedal cyclists, motorcyclists, horse drawn carriages and motor vehicles.

Any vehicle using public byways must be licensed and insured, properly taxed and fit for use on public roads. In some areas use may be restricted by traffic regulation orders.

People usually mean a byway when they refer to a Green Lane. This term has no legal meaning.

Permissive paths

Landowners may give permission by a formal agreement with the Borough Council to use paths or tracks over their land that is not public rights of way. Usually referred to as 'permissive paths', they are not covered by rights of way legislation and there is usually no intention that they should become public rights of way. Notices may be erected at each end of the path to this effect and cover additional restrictions on use that may apply.

Private and public rights

Public rights of way do not in any way affect private rights of access that may exist over that land for landowners and householders. These rights should be mentioned in the deeds of the land in question. Some ways can carry both public and private rights; eg a farm access road may also be a public footpath. Private rights must not be exercised in any way as to interfere with the rights of the public.

Farmers and landowners

We have produced a guide for farmers and landowners (PDF) to help explain the common issues associated with Public rights of Way.


Footway is another word used for pavement. 

Find out more about Public Rights of Way in neighbouring counties.