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Signs in the countryside

Who is responsible?

We are required to sign all public rights of way to assist persons unfamiliar with the locality.

Path status and waymarks

Public footpaths are waymarked using yellow arrows

Only walkers may use these routes. You may take a dog provided it is under close control. If the path is suitable, a pram or pushchair may also be taken. You must not push, carry or use a bicycle on a footpath.

Public bridleways are waymarked with blue arrows

You may walk, or ride a horse or bicycle along these routes. Cyclists must give way to walkers and horseriders.

Byways Open to All Traffic (BOATs) are waymarked with red arrows

Walkers, cyclists, horseriders and vehicles may use these routes. However, they are only maintained to bridleway standards and may not be physically suitable for vehicles. A list of BOATs including any existing restrictions can be downloaded by following the link below or requested from Countryside Access.

Other symbols you might see:

Permissive paths

Permissive paths are not public rights of way, but routes which the landowner has agreed can be used by the public. There may be some restrictions on these paths, for example keeping dogs on a lead. Or a landowner may give permission for horse riders to use a public footpath that crosses his land, or for certain vehicles to use a footpath or bridleway.

Other routes and trails

Where a right of way is part of a special route, such as a long distance path, you may see a combination of waymark arrows and other symbols. This acorn symbol indicates that the paths you are walking on form part of a National Trail long distance footpath. In Surrey you may be on the Thames Path, which runs along the river from the Cotswolds to the Thames Barrier in Greenwich. Or perhaps the North Downs Way which runs from Farnham through the Surrey Hills and Kent Downs Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONBs) to Dover in Kent.

Another popular long distance route is the Greensand Way, which runs for 108 miles from Haslemere in Surrey along the Greensand ridge into Kent.

Access Land

You may have heard of 'Right to Roam'. Under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000, the public have been given access on foot to 4,000 square miles of countryside. The provisions recently came into force in the southeast, and you may start to see the following symbol at the boundary of 'Access Land', which advises you that you may walk in that area. You can view maps of Access Land, and find out more about where you can go and what you can do, including details of local restrictions and closures, by visiting the Countryside Access website.

Landowners

If you own land crossed by public rights of way and would like the signing to be checked or improved to ensure the public can find their way, please do not hesitate to contact About Rights of Way on our website.

What happens now?

Your report will be allocated to the relevant area Countryside Access Officer, who will prioritise and make arrangements for the necessary work to be carried out. To ensure our work is completed in a cost effective way, signing is often completed when other work is being carried out in the area, or during the Winter months.

Use our online form if you need to report a problem. You can also make an enquiry about a rights of way issue.

What to expect

Public rights of way are generally signed from a road, with a wooden or metal finger post indicating the status and direction of the path. Along the way you might find other signs or waymarks to help you follow the correct route without getting lost. Route signing is normally only installed where a path is difficult to follow or at a junction with other paths.

Who is responsible?

We are required to sign all public rights of way to assist persons unfamiliar with the locality.

Path status and waymarks

Public footpaths are waymarked using yellow arrows

Only walkers may use these routes. You may take a dog provided it is under close control. If the path is suitable, a pram or pushchair may also be taken. You must not push, carry or use a bicycle on a footpath.

Public bridleways are waymarked with blue arrows

You may walk, or ride a horse or bicycle along these routes. Cyclists must give way to walkers and horseriders.

Byways Open to All Traffic (BOATs) are waymarked with red arrows

Walkers, cyclists, horseriders and vehicles may use these routes. However, they are only maintained to bridleway standards and may not be physically suitable for vehicles. A list of BOATs including any existing restrictions can be downloaded by following the link below or requested from Countryside Access.

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