Public rights of way - your responsibilities

Public rights of way are all routes where there is a legal right to pass and repass but these cover a wide spectrum of different physical paths, tracks and unmarked ground. The existence of a right of way does not mean that there is a physical path suitable for a particular person at a particular time. All potential users of the public rights of way have a responsibility to ensure their own well-being in the particular circumstances taking into account the weather conditions and nature of the terrain.

Lancashire County Council and landowners are responsible for maintaining public rights of way.

Highway authority's duty

It is the responsibility of Lancashire County Council as highway authority to ensure that the public rights of way are kept free from obstruction, that structures are provided where appropriate and maintained in a safe and convenient condition and that vegetation and crops are not allowed to obstruct the public rights of way. Surfaces of some public rights of way are also the responsibility of Lancashire County Council.

Landowner's duty

It is the responsibility of the landowner to maintain any permitted gaps, gates and stiles and not to obstruct the public rights of way. It is normally the responsibility of the adjacent landowner to keep their boundary hedges, trees, walls or fences from encroaching onto the right of way, to reinstate the surface of the path following the ploughing a cross-field path and to keep it free of crops.

Public's duty

Members of the public are responsible for keeping to the public right of way and ensuring their dogs are under close control, do not stray from the right of way and do not chase farm animals. It is the responsibility of each user of a public right of way to assess the nature of the path for themselves and to take appropriate care - if necessary turn back rather than risk injury to yourself or companions. Please bear in mind that in general the public rights of way are not regularly inspected but repairs are carried out where necessary in response to reports by members of the public. This maintenance work is prioritised according to Lancashire County Council's Strategic Statement of Priorities for Public Rights of Way.

Find out more about what to expect from rights of way, how to report an obstruction or defect in a right of way and how to stay safe.

Please note that this is not intended to be a complete and exhaustive account of the law relating to public rights of way.